Tips for Improving Your Passing in Ice Hockey

By Jason Marshall , last updated January 22, 2012

Improving your passing shot in ice hockey is more difficult than improving other skills like stick handling and shooting. These skills can be practiced without a partner, but passing requires running drills with someone else. This means passing skills are often weakest among members of a team. That doesn’t mean that passing shots can’t be practiced and perfected. There are some simple techniques and drills you can practice in order to improve your ice hockey passing shots.

Basic Techniques

There are some basic passing techniques that all ice hockey players should be aware of and practice. For instance, one of the biggest causes of bad passes is the failure of the passer to keep his eyes on the target. The tendency, especially among beginning players, is to glance down at the puck. But good passers will tell you that you can’t pass effectively without keeping your eyes on the target and to follow through fluidly toward the target.

It is also important to hit the puck with your stick correctly. You don’t want to hit the puck dead on. Rather than a slap, the maneuver should look resemble a sweeping motion and it should roll off the blade of the stick from the heel to the toe. Again, you need to be sure your stick follows through toward the target.

Stationary Partner Pass

This is the most basic passing drill, but players cannot run through this drill without a partner. It is worth finding a practice partner because the skills mastered in this drill are the basis for all advanced skills. Players stand facing each at a comfortable distance apart. While standing still, they pass the puck between each other. When running through this drill, make sure both players are practicing on both their forehand and backhand sides. Players need to be comfortable shooting from both. As the players get better, the distance between them can be increased.

Moving Partner Passes

Once players are comfortable with stationary passes, they should move up to moving passes, which will better reflect what happens during a game. Again, you will need a partner. Players should begin skating down the ice from the goal line. As they move down the rink, they will pass the puck between them. At the other end of the rink they will turn around and begin again. This gives them an opportunity for each to pass and receive from both their forehand and backhand sides. As the players get better, the distance between the players and their speed skating on the ice can be increased.

Breakout Drill

This is an effective drill for more advanced players and can be modified to fit specific circumstances. One version only involves a defenseman, winger, and center. The defenseman begins behind the net with the puck while the winger waits by the hash marks. The center skates down the ice toward the net and begins to turn toward the winger. The defenseman then skates away from the net and passes toward the winger, who then passes to the center. More players can be added and more passing patterns can be practiced as well.

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