As a player and coach of hockey throughout his life, Wayne Blazejczyk always looks for new ways to help players get the most out of the game. One of the biggest struggles for hockey players in the age of COVID-19 has been finding ways to hone their skills without access to public fields and other players. Fortunately, Wayne Blazejczyk knows of a great drill that players can take advantage of from the comfort of their own backyard.
A lot of players do not practice their skills due to lack of space. Wayne Blazejczyk believes that a confined space should not hinder a player’s ability to practice. Two of the most important skills a hockey player can have are agility and ball control. In a game situation, around the shooting circle and in the neutral zone, players will find themselves marked by a defender. When this happens, the player must have the ability to break free without losing possession for their team.
With just five cones, players can work on their agility and ball control, which will in turn help them in game situations. Cones number 1 and number 5 just need to be set thirty feet apart. Cones two and four should be placed thirty feet from cones 1 and 5 and then then cone 3 can be placed directly in the middle. The drill can then be practiced by sprinting from cone 1 to cone 2 while dribbling the ball. If this is something that is difficult for the player to do consistently without losing control, Wayne Blazejczyk recommends focusing on this part of the drill until it becomes easy enough to do without thinking. Wayne Blazejczyk believes it’s all about maintaining speed. If a player cannot sprint, they aren’t going to be able to maintain possession in a game situation.
Once the first step of the drill is mastered, the player can look to the second part of the drill which asks the player to cut to cone 3 before slowing down and pulling the ball around cone 4. In this scenario, the player can visualize the fourth cone as a defender, or the goal, as this technique can help a player work on their wrap around technique. After this step, the ball should be dribbled over to cone 5, where another cut will take place around the cone and the ball can be dribbled back to cone 1. This drill can repeated over and over again. It will help build a player’s ball handling skills while also improving upon their lung capacity. The more a player sprints, the better off their conditioning will be in a game situation.