The video above does a great job of explaining this game. Just throw some hockey tape on your players’ helmets to designate teams and you can easily make this your team’s next pre-game warm-up.

 

If you’re looking for a great way to improve the quality of your team’s pre-game warm-up, you might want to consider ditching repetitive and predictable drills like the horseshoe or the breakout-regroup-3v2 and try some small area games! Remember, you’re warming up to play a hockey game. It’s a messy, competitive, constantly-changing environment. If the goal of a warm-up is to potentiate subsequent performance, then the warm-up needs to mirror the demands of that performance. That is, your warm-up should look like the game!

I know what you’re thinking: “how can I have my team play small area games as part of a warm-up when everyone is in the same jersey and we only have one net?” There’s a very simple solution that works like a charm: use hockey tape! All you have to do is tear off 7-9 strips of white hockey tape (enough for half of your team) and place them on the door in the locker room before the game. Half your players place the tape on the front of their helmets and, presto, you have the equivalent of jersey-pennies so that players know who’s on which team. It’s actually even better than pennies because it forces players to pick their heads up and scan the ice to identify where their teammates are. Once warm-ups are over, the players simply pull the tape off their helmets, throw it in the trash and they are ready to start the game.

A simple strip of white hockey tape serves as a “jersey” and indicates that this player is on the “white” team for warm-ups. 

One of my favorite small area games to implement with my team as a pre-game warm-up is USA Hockey’s “Nobles Transition Game” because it only requires one net (you can have your goalies change out every 30 seconds, every goal, every time the skaters change, etc.), it’s continuous and doesn’t require a coach to blow a whistle for changes, and the net is positioned in the standard crease area. Here’s how the game works:

The green team just got the puck to their teammates waiting on the wall. The original green players are out and the new ones go on offense. The blue players are now on defense and three new players go wait on the wall. No whistles are needed for this game.

One team (let’s say the non-tape team) starts with 3 players on offense. One team (let’s say the tape team) starts with 3 players on defense. The defensive team has 3 players on the wall waiting to get the puck. The offensive team tries to score a goal. If they score, they get a new puck. If the goalie covers it, a loose puck is thrown into play. If the defensive team gets the puck, they pass to their players who are waiting on the wall. The players who were just on defense are now OUT of the game and go wait at the blue line. The players who were just on offense are now on DEFENSE (that means we need 3 non-tape players to go wait on the opposite wall for the puck). The tape players who just received the puck on the wall go on OFFENSE and try to score. The game is continuous from there. You can get a ton of high quality, competitive, game-realistic repetitions in a 5-minute warm-up when you play this game. Your players will be battling for loose pucks and making decisions and your goalies will be facing the kinds of shots they will face in the game.

Here are a few tips and tidbits on how to make this successful:

  • You can put just one single puck on the ice to start the game and then have a coach on the bench throw new pucks into play as necessary. This makes it so players don’t have to worry about managing pucks and it limits the amount of pucks that you lose to the other end or have to pick up after warm-ups.
  • Use the opposite color tape of your team’s helmets (i.e., if you wear black helmets use white tape; if you wear green helmets, use red tape). This does two things: (1) it makes the tape more visible and (2) it means that you only have to tear off enough strips of tape for HALF your team before the game.
  • Assign each goalie to a team and have him or her switch in/out as teams go on defense/offense. This keeps the goalies engaged in the game and prevents a lot of standing around.
  • Throw the puck bag on the ice with about 20 seconds left in the warm-up. This gives players time to pick up the pucks before the buzzer sounds.
  • Have the coaches collect the tape from players helmets when they come to the bench for your pre-faceoff remarks.

 

Try it out at your next game!

Brandon Reich-Sweet

Brandon Reich-Sweet is a former AAA hockey player from Colorado, currently a coach for the historic Littleton Hockey Association south of Denver, a lead instructor with the Ice Ranch’s Learn to Play Hockey Program and a private instructor offering lessons and small group camps. He is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with Distinction (CSCS*D), a Level 4 USA Hockey Certified Coach, a Level 2 USA Weightlifting Certified Coach and a strength & conditioning coach with the Colorado Rampage AAA Hockey Club. He is the founder of BRS High Performance Hockey, a hockey skills and training company dedicated to comprehensive and long-term player development through the 4-pillar approach of fundamental skills coaching, game-representative problem solving training, strength & conditioning, and athletic development. Brandon is currently pursuing an M.S. degree in Applied Exercise Science (Sports Performance Concentration) at Concordia University Chicago.