Five Practice Hockey Warm-Up Drills
There are many, many hockey warm-up drills: passing warm-up drills, skating warm-up drills, goalie warm-up drills—the hockey pregame is, or should be, a busy time. To compete at peak levels, players should have their bodies ready to go and their skills sharp before the puck drops—exactly what a good hockey warm-up is designed to do.
When performing or explaining these pregame hockey warm-up drills, make sure slap shots aren't taken inside the face-off circles, as they can injure your goalie—you want your goalie warmed up, not sitting on the bench for the game because shooters were too amped during pregame. When they're in close, have skaters use wrist shots.
Additionally, have skaters resist the temptation to deke the goalie. This will disrupt the flow of the drills by getting the goalie out of position. Shooting is only one of several skills these drills are designed work on.
Finally, 2-on-0 or 3-on-0 drills should include no more than two passes inside the blue line to approximate game-like conditions. In actual play, more passes are likely to cause a turnover.
1. "S" Skating Hockey Warm-Up
You can file this one under "hockey passing drills" or even "give and go drills." Either way, this is a great, fast hockey warm-up that focuses on the fundamentals of skating, passing, and shooting.
In this drill have the defensemen act as passers—neutral zone D-to-D passes are something they will have to execute many times during actual game play. Make sure defensemen make hard, accurate passes to each other and on the cross-ice pass. Remind the offensive skater to not blast the goalie inside the blue line.
To begin, forwards line up in the corner with two defensemen positioned on the near blue line, each above the face-off circles. On the whistle, the first forward passes out to the defenseman and skates up the board, around the first defenseman, across ice, and below the second defenseman, continuing up the ice in an "S" shape. Meanwhile, the defensemen are executing crisp D-to-D passes until the the forward has skated around the second defenseman. At this point, the puck should be in the first defenseman's possession, who fires a cross-ice pass to the forward, who attacks the goal 1-on-0.
After the drill, the skater returns to the back of the line.
2. 4-Pass Hockey Warm-Up Drill
This is another drill that works skating, passing, and shooting. It's also a great drill for goalies as they must defend shots from multiple angles.
To begin, line skaters in four groups across the goalline with one group in each corner (1, 4) and two groups on either side of the net (2, 3). Lines one and three, and lines two and four will always work together. Each line has pucks.
On the whistle, the first skater from line one skates hard to the blue line and then turns and skates toward line three to receive a pass from line three. The skater then turns up ice, skating near the opposite board for a 1-on-0 shot on goal from the opposite side of the ice from where they started.
When the first skater receives the pass, then the skater from line two skates hard to the blue line, turns, and skates back toward line four to receive a pass from line four. Skater two then turns up-ice and skates along the opposite board for a 1-on-0 shot on goal.
Skaters three and four follow in turn and perform the same maneuvers, except they start from the opposite side of the ice—skater three receiving their pass from line one, and skater four receiving theirs from line two, etc.
Pay attention to details: make sure players skate hard to the blue line and come back for the pass. Make sure, also, that skaters take their shots from the high slot without dekes. Shots should be low, hard, and made in stride.
3. C-Pass Give and Go
Here's a fast-paced hockey passing drill that will get the blood pumping in your players. This drill's designed to work on giving and receiving passes while in motion. This drill should be done at game speed.
To begin, players line up in the right-side corner. A coach is positioned same-side, at the boards on the offensive blue line.
On the whistle, the first player skates around the circle and back toward the boards, in a "C", and receives a pass from skater two. The first player carries the puck into the neutral zone and executes a give-and-go pass with the coach at the offensive blue line. The coach returns the pass to the skater, who carries the puck to the high slot for a shot on goal.
This drill can be run simultaneously in the opposite direction, starting in the right corner at the far end of the ice. Again, players should not deke the goalie as this will slow everything down. Encourage skaters to keep their feet moving for the whole drill.
4. Leafs' Warm-Up Drill
This fun drill works a player's backward skating, pivots, passing, drive skating, and shooting. It can be run on full- or half-ice. Position two cones in the neutral zone parallel with the face-off circles. For a half-ice drill, players line up on the boards at center ice. For full-ice, the drill is exactly the same, just run in an opposite direction with a second group of skaters on the other side of the red line.
On the whistle, the first player leaves the board, skating backward along the red line and receives a pass from the second player. (Players should always deliver passes to the side the receiving player will turn.) After receiving the pass, the skater opens up and skates forward around the second cone, curling toward the net, and shooting low and hard from the low slot.
After the shot the player gets at the back of the line or, for full-ice, at the back of the second line to run the drill in the opposite direction.
Variations on this drill include circling the near cone rather than the far one; and after the pass, player two can join player one for a 2-on-0.
5. Warm-Up Pass Exchange
This is another excellent hockey warm-up drill designed to work puck-handling, forward and backward skating, pivots, passing, and shooting. This skills-dense but simple drill should be run as quickly as possible—not only to limit stand-in-line time, but also to stretch the skater's ability to execute skills at top speed.
Skaters form two lines, with pucks, in the left-side corners at opposite ends of the ice.
On the whistle, the first skater from each line carries the puck to the blue line and performs a pivot toward center ice. They continue, skating backward while carrying the puck, to the next blue line. They perform another pivot toward center ice and skate around the circle. Skaters are now facing each other in the low slots at either end of the ice. Without stopping, the skaters skate hard to the blue line and pass diagonally to the approaching skater. The passes should lead the other skater and not interfere with the other player's pass. After receiving the passes, both players skate up ice for shots on goal from the low slot. After the drill, each skater joins the back of the opposite line.
Drills in practice can focus on a single skill. You've got the hour or two to work slowly and with focus—there's time to drill-down on any confusion skaters might have. But pre-game ice time is limited—any pre-game warm-up drill should deliver the most bang possible in the time available.