Small area games are excellent teachers because they allow players of all ages and skill levels to work on their basic skills in confined spaces and competitive situations. By using small areas and short shifts, players are challenged to read and react quickly under pressure, and by doing so they learn to think and see the ice better. They also encourage players to battle hard for the puck while at the same time have a great deal of fun.
In this edition, we are focusing on small area games designed to work on basic balance, agility, skating and puck-handling skills of Mite-aged players.
Purpose: Teaches players to crossover with their heads up
Using one or two circles (depending on the number of players) players line up without sticks around the circle. Players skate clockwise around the circle staying on the line as they crossover. If there are five players place four pucks in the middle. On the coach’s signal, players dive in the middle to get a puck. If they don’t get one they are eliminated. Reduce the number of pucks each round. The game is over when only one player is left.
Red Light, Green Light, Yellow Light, Blue Light
Purpose: Teaches stopping and agility while having fun
Using one third of the rink, all players start against the boards. The coach starts out between the face-off circles. The coach commands are:
Green Light – skate forward
Red Light – stop
Yellow Light – fall down on their stomachs and get up quickly
Blue Light – yell “hockey” or their team name.
A new game starts when all the players have made it to the other side.
Sharks and Minnows
Purpose: Teaches puck handling under pressure
The Minnows line up across the boards with pucks, while the Shark begins in the middle. Minnows skate from dot to dot with their puck. If the Shark takes or knocks the puck from their stick, they too become a Shark and help check the remaining Minnows. The Minnows are safe from the dots to the boards as shown. The game is over when every player has their puck knocked off of his or her stick.
Purpose: Emphasizes the importance of quick skating and puckhandling in a confined area
Divide the players into two groups. Players begin the drill in a face-off circle, each with a puck. The players can skate in any direction, keeping their heads up and staying inside the circle. After a few minutes, place all the players in one circle and repeat the drill.
No matter what age group you’re coaching, small area games are excellent training aids, and players love them because they get to compete in game-like situations while working on their skills.