CoachThem's Top Hockey Drills of 2020

CoachThem's Top Hockey Drills of 2020

COVID-19 put life on pause for much of 2020, and the hockey world certainly wasn’t immune to the devastating effects of the global pandemic. Nevertheless, the NHL still managed to crown the Tampa Bay Lightning champion in the Edmonton bubble in September, and a new season begins in mid-January!

The lockdowns and new restrictions felt across the sport haven’t been easy to contend with - but that hasn’t stopped coaches everywhere from doing the work they love with the help of CoachThem. Our coaches have taken full advantage of this newfound downtime, retooling their playbooks and sharing drills and plans like never before.

The support for CoachThem amidst this troubling period has been nothing short of remarkable. In 2020, we surpassed the 10,000-user and 300,000 drills created marks, and we couldn’t be prouder. You stuck with us through the ups and downs of the last 10 months, and we are incredibly grateful.

With that in mind, we sought to bring you fresh content in collaboration with the top hockey minds in the game, including topical CoachThem blogs, "Drill of the Week" social media posts and Drill E-Books. We also forged brand-new partnerships with both the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) and Minnesota Hockey, while further solidifying our partnership with the National Hockey League Coaches’ Association (NHLCA). And our longstanding association with The Coaches’ Site remains stronger than ever.

We’ll never forget the events of the past year, but we know good things are ahead for the sports world and we’ll be there to serve your hockey drill drawing needs every step of the way! To wrap things up, we put together a list of CoachThem's Top 5 Drills of 2020 based on your feedback, and we’re excited to share!



5. Brad Shaw - Lemaire 2v2 N-Zone Angling

Tags: 2 vs 2, Angling, Checking, Force vs Contain, Gap Control

As featured in our popular blog feature, Top 5 Drills from NHL Coaches, Columbus Blue Jackets assistant coach, Brad Shaw, ranks this drill among his favorites - and with good reason! It demands speed and sound tactics. The fact that any change of possession means the defending team is now on the attack and looking to get down ice as fast as possible is a nice touch.


  • First 4 skaters on the boards at the blue line. Coach is at center red line with pucks.
  • 2 O's vs 2 X's full ice 2v2. On the whistle, the coach randomly passes the puck to any of the first 4 skaters. The team receiving the puck is attacking the other end ASAP.
  • Defending team skates forward 100% to check. Angles and stick position are key.
  • Coach can let this drill run longer and then it starts to have a conditioning element as well.

Advanced Version:

  • Move the first 4 players to the neutral zone dots and leave the lines on the boards. This allows the offensive team more options and makes the defenders check at a higher level.

4. Angle Progression Drill

Tags: 1 vs 1, Angling, Defence, Individual Skill

CoachThem's own Mike Weaver played 633 games in the NHL over the course of his career, so he's well-versed in the art of angling. He believes the key to stopping rushing forwards in their tracks is eliminating their options. How? By taking away where you don't want them to go and giving them just one choice: down the boards! This drill emphasizes the crucial element of stick placement, which is often underappreciated.


  • The drill starts on the whistle. 
  • D angles F down the boards by taking an angle.
  • Your stick opens and closes doors. Place the stick where you don't want the player to go, which most times is the middle.

3. Loop 1 vs 1

Tags: 1 vs 1, Angling, Gap Control, Small Areas

Provided by renowned Minnesota-based skills coach, Danny Heath, this drill can quickly turn up the tempo at any on-ice session. It focuses on explosive crossovers for forwards and lateral gap control for defenders, while the unique net placement is great for sparking a battle down low and generating some serious intensity. Follow Danny on Instagram - @danny_hype - for some more innovative drill ideas!


  • F and D start in front of their respective bumper.
  • On whistle F skates with puck and circles around their bumper. At the same time D follows movement, pivoting aroud their bumper, keeping eyes and chest towards F.
  • F heads to net for screen & tip, depth is important.

2. Scoring - Crosby Bottom Circle Net Drive

Tags: Agility, Half Ice / One Way, Individual Skill, Offensive Zone, Scoring, Shooting, Skating

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more effective player down low than eight-time NHL All-Star, Sidney Crosby, so why not help your players hone some of his best assets? This drill asks players to keep their feet moving, make good fakes, and practice mohawks on their turns. They also have to go hard to the net and protect the puck to create a scoring opportunity in tight.


  • Player starts on dot in circle, place two pylons near outside of circle.
  • Coach spots puck in corner - O goes hard to puck, fakes one way and takes puck up the wall.
  • O turns inside out around cone and attacks net wide with speed. Fake outside drive and turn inside bottom pylon.

1. Small Area Game - Net Front 2 on 2

Tags: 2 vs 2, Half Ice / One Way, Small Areas

At the top of our list is a small area drill focused squarely on finding open seams and scoring goals! While your forwards out front are being challenged to keep their sticks free, your defense will be battling to tie them up. Talk about a fight for space!


  • F3 behind net with pucks.
  • 2 offensive players and 2 defensive plays in front of net.
  • F3 can’t come in front of goal line, F1 & F2 can’t go higher or wider than the dots in the circles.
  • Player behind net gets 3 passes out front to try and score. After 3 passes are made, exchange players.

All CoachThem Pro and CoachThem Association users can find drills the above in our Drill Marketplace and add them directly to their custom practice plans!

If you're looking to improve how you coach, sign up for a 10-Day Free Trial of our online drill drawing and practice planning tool!



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