5 Small Area Games for Your Practices, Dave Starman

As time passes, technology, research and analytics are becoming increasingly present in the game of hockey. Specifically in the past 7 years, we've seen a significant presence of small area games and cross-ice practices in rinks across North America and at every level of the game.

This, large in part can be attributed towards the push of the ADM from USA hockey and their focus on increasing player activity, puck touches and engagement in condensed spaces of the ice. By proving their development concepts through statistics, we're finally seeing an adaptation to how the game is being taught.

Our team at CoachThem are full believers of the new wave of player development and connected with one of USA Hockey's own, Dave Starman, to share this knowledge base with the CoachThem community.

On top of coaching with the Tier 1 P.A.L Jr Islanders (14U AAA Major), Dave is a USA Hockey Coaching/Goaltender Development Coordinator for New York State, pro scout for NHL Seattle, college hockey analyst for CBS Sports and the Big Ten networks AND a huge advocate of the ADM teaching model. His knowledge in the game brought him to speak at both the 2018 and 2019 Hockey Coaches Conferences, where his captivating presentations on small area games opened the eyes of hundreds of coaches to this methodology.

We collaborated with Dave and put together 5 of his favourite small area games for engaging, competitive and FUN practices, at every level!


1. 2 vs 1 Keep Away

Tags: Small Areas, 2 vs 1


  • 4 pylons to create a smaller zone
  • Teams play a 2vs1 keep away, while staying within their respective pylons
  • Coach decides length of interval

2. Corner 2 vs 2


  • Coach plays puck into corner zone for a 2v2
  • Coach continues to cycle pucks in play if they get out of zone until a goal is scored

3. Gretzky


  • 3vs3 game where each team has a "Gretzky" behind the opposing net that they have to pass to before they can attack
  • "Gretzky" cannot score and must stay behind the goal line at all times
  • Coach dumps in puck to begin play

4. Regroup 


  • 3vs3 game where each team has a player behind their own net
  • Coach dumps in puck to begin play
  • Each team must regroup with their goal line player before attacking opposing team
  • Must regroup on change of possession



  • 2vs2 game where each team has two stationed on the half wall
  • D on each team must play stationary 
  • Coach dumps in puck to begin play
  • Each team's F's must battle for the puck and pass it to their respective D
  • There must be a D-D pass before a shot on net from the point

Recommended Blogs

Most Viewed

CoachThem's Top Drills of 2019

2019 has been quite the year. Take a walk through our annual wrap up and view our Top 5 Drills,... Read More.

Last updated December 16 at 12:00 am .

Transitions for Explosive Offense, Jon Goyens

A quick transition game can be deadly and when implemented effectively, will exploit mistakes from... Read More.

Last updated August 23 at 12:00 am .

Top 5 Drills from NHL Coaches, Gerard Gallant

Preparation is key to creating that perfect practice. Here are Coach Gallant's five favourite... Read More.

Last updated February 28, 2017 at 12:00 am .

Top 5 Drills from NHL Coaches, Brad Shaw

Regardless of what level of the game you're coaching, preparation is always the key to a successful... Read More.

Last updated July 23 at 12:00 am .

How to Defend With Angling, Danny Heath

We connected with renowned skills coach Danny Heath and are excited to share his insight on one of... Read More.

Last updated January 6 at 12:00 am .


CoachThem Free

Your coaching begins here.

Plan your practices the right way.

Create Drills ** 5
Create Plans *** 2
Discover Marketplace Drills 5
Discover Marketplace Plans 2
Share Drills & Plans No

CoachThem PRO

More space. More freedom.

Get the complete CoachThem experience and take coaching to the next level.

Create Drills Unlimited
Create Plans Unlimited
Discover Marketplace Drills Unlimited
Discover Marketplace Plans Unlimited
Share Drills & Plans Unlimited

CoachThem Association

Redefine Your Association.

Allows more control over the drills and skills your coaches Teach.

Everything Unlimited
Minimum Teams 8
Coaches Per Team 4