Defenseman Specific Drills Aid In Development Of All Young Players

Joe Doyle

Small area games, activities or drills that replicate game situations and target skills specific to the position a player plays (forward or defenseman) can be an effective way to use your ice time and develop fundamental skills. Position specific drills become more and more common as a player gets older, typically in the Bantam age group on up.

It is very important at younger ages (Mites, Squirts and Peewees) that ALL players, regardless of what position they play in games, receive repetitions in practice at both forward and defense. This will help with their overall understanding of the game. The fact is that we don’t know long-term whether 11 or 12-year-old players are ultimately going to be forwards or defensemen, so it is in the interest of their overall development that they get reps in practice at both positions.

In a previous article we showed some Forward Specific Drills, and in this article we’ll show some Defenseman Specific Drills that can be done on half a sheet and accommodate 12 players (four per station) while keeping the activity level and repetitions high. These drills are designed for players starting at the 14 & Under level, but can also be introduced at 10 & Under and 12 & Under.

If a coach has 30 minutes with the defenseman he or she can conduct three stations at 10 minutes each.

The intent is to have all these drills going at the same time in one half of the ice (forwards on the other end of the ice) with more than half the players active at all times in each of their stations.

STATION 1: Corbett ‘Hinge’ Drill

Age Level: 10U and Up
Activity/Purpose: D1 starts with puck and attacks red line toward wall. Simulating feeling pressure from opposing team, D1 makes a firm pass back to D2 who is behind D1 and to the center of the ice. D2 attacks opposite side of ice up to red line towards boards. Again simulating feeling pressure, D2 makes a firm pass back to D1 who skates puck hard up ice. Repeat this for approximately 30 seconds. This drill emphasizes good passes, skating hard with the puck up ice and defensive puck support.


STATION 2: Bonnett ‘Y’ Pivot Drill

Age Level: 10U and Up
Activity/Purpose: One player starts backwards at the base of the Y facing the boards. Start with a C-cut and skate backward to the dot. Open hips and reach with front leg to the cone. Stay on back leg inside edge for push and create a hole between legs. Stop at cone and skate backwards to dot again opening hips and making a big push with back skate returning to base of the Y. Repeat drill to the other side. Emphasize opening hips and big push with back skate inside edge.


STATION 3: Johnson Puck Retrieval

Age Level: 10U and Up
Activity/Purpose: The defenseman starts backward facing coach. The coach dumps puck behind the defenseman, who pivots from backward to forward and retrieves puck on his forehand. Without stickhandling, he moves his feet and passes to coach. The defenseman skates up and around the tires and pivots to backwards as the coach dumps another puck. The defenseman pivots to forward, retrieves puck and drill continues. Do four to five repetitions at a time. This drill emphasizes surrounding puck and opening up to gather the puck on the forehand, under handling the puck, and shoulder check (what’s happening behind the defenseman) while retrieving the puck.


>> These small area activities not only work on a player’s skills but also on team concepts and hockey sense/awareness. Putting players in scenarios during practice that replicate game situations is hugely beneficial for a player’s development. Doing them in smaller areas increases the repetitions as well as the compete-level and enjoyment of the players.



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