Sometimes you need to tighten the bolt.
If you riffle through a drill book or site, you’ll find an endless list of wonderful drills which have various types of resistance. 2-on-1s – 3-on-1s, which become 3-on-2s – small area games that are essentially battle drills. These are all great and have their place.
What we never see are drills that show how to add varying types of resistance in degrees, what I like to call tightening the bolts. It’s one thing to put the bolt on the screw. That’s easy. But as you turn the bolt and get near the end to tighten it, things get more challenging. So it should be with many drills.
In a game at pretty much any age and level, there are three types of resistance: front, as in a forechecker or a defenceman facing an attacker, back such as what a backchecker would provide while chasing a puck carrier, and side as one would see jostling along the boards or battling for the puck shoulder to shoulder. Nearly all drills we find illustrate front, a few from the back, and rarely from the side unless a pure battle drill. Moreover, not many drills increase or change the resistance as the drill progresses.
Taking the typical 2-on-1 as an example, players begin with a curl or pass or give and go then attack the defenceman. Because there’s no rear pressure, they don’t need to attack with speed or hurry the play or react quickly. This is fine if the drill’s objective is merely to work on what kind of attack is to be attempted. But at some point, the play needs resistance. The bolts have to be tightened in order for all three players to learn to react under varying conditions.
This in fact is the crux of the issue: how to alter a simple drill to make it more challenging, more gamelike, and offer more read and react opportunities.
Here’s another simpler drill. You’ve asked your kids to skate through, say, four pylons with a puck and then take a shot. You’ve been working on puck skills and tight turns and now it’s time to put it into action. Except, skating through pylons, after a few tries, isn’t action at all. It’s perfecting techniques, which is of course vital. If you had a chaser who starts about three seconds later, the puckcarrier now has to deal with a great deal more variables.
Once players have a handle on a drill, it’s time to tighten that bolt. How you achieve it is another problem. However, doing it in any fashion that still allows the drill to function properly with some success will help your players learn to cope with the game’s various adversities.
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