Youth hockey leagues are all about letting the kids have fun and stay fit, but it is also a great time to teach them the fundamentals of the sport. During youth, children learn the basics of hockey and can develop good habits. It is far easier to teach a kid the fundamentals of hockey from an early age than correct poor habits when he is older. Running the best hockey drills is a large part of that process. Hockey drills in youth leagues must be simple enough for the children to understand and complete, but still provide skills that will be useful on the ice. The drills should simulate some movement or task which must be completed during games, yet still be fun. Of course, some hockey drills are better for youth players than others. Read below for information on a couple of the best hockey drills for use in youth leagues.
Many hockey leagues focus on teaching offensive skills, but it is good to let the kids know that defense is just as important. It may not be as flashy as scoring a goal, but making a great defensive play can be vital to a hockey team. This defensive youth hockey drill allows kids to stay in good defensive position and limit the offense's chance of scoring.
To complete the drill, you need an offensive player, a defensive player, and a goalie. A coach can stand behind and to the side of the net with a puck, with the offensive and defensive player on one of the walls. The offensive player can take off across the ice (in a straight line) as he wishes, with the defensive player mirroring his moves. When the offensive player gets near the goal, the coach passes the puck. The goal for the defensive player is to be in position to stop the pass. With the offensive player moving back and forth as he wishes, it is a great drill to develop defensive quickness.
The drill is a good one for goalies as well, as they need quick reflexes and good positioning to stop shots. The coach can also try to score from behind the net from time to time, forcing the goalie to look back prior to the pass. This teaches the goalie to keep his eyes on the puck at all times, as shots can come at any time and from all angles.
Hockey is all about quickness on the ice, and this drill helps youth players develop it. Players should line up in two corners. Pucks should be placed just inside the dots near the blue line. One player from each corner sprints up the boards, move around the top of the circle, around the bottom of the circle, back up the boards around the neutral zone face off area, picking up a puck and taking it in for a shot. This allows players to move quickly in different directions, teaching them to skate with and without the puck. When a player is nearing in on the puck, another player from his line can start; this helps to increase the pace of the drill.