Adding upredictability to your off-ice hockey drills

hockey Stickhandling mediumWhen I play defense, I can either skate backwards or stick check the puck away from my opponent – not both (I get paid for training hockey players – luckily my livelihood does not depend on my skill). 

 Hockey is a multi-tasking sport but far too often players train for the best case scenario.  Think about the last time you did some off-ice agility or  goalie movement drills.  Was anyone trying to knock you off the puck?  Was anyone firing a puck at you?  Was anyone constantly backing into your?  Probably not.  You were likely given a pattern and then allowed to practice it unhampered. 

Try this progression of your next off-ice agility drill:

  • Become competent performing the drill forward with your dominant foot leading
  • Become competent performing the drill forward with your non-dominant foot leading
  • Become competent performing the drill backward leading with your dominant foot and then your non-dominant foot.
  • Perform a predictable pattern transitioning from forward to backward.
  • Add a motor skill such as using hockey sticks to pass a puck handling ball for skaters or catching and passing a tennis ball for goalies.
  • Add an unpredictable pattern when the coach points either forward or back and the athlete must respond to the visual stimulus.
  • Continue with the unpredictable pattern, but add in the motor skill.

Adding complexity to these drills will teach you to process information and deal with unpredictability while continuing to execute your movement skills effectively.