Do you want to get better hands on the ice?
Are you looking to improve your stickhandling skills, so you can dangle around opponents and put goalies in a spin cycle?
Well, then you better be doing some stickhandling training sessions in your spare time.
Because the best stickhandlers in the world (ie Patrick Kane) don’t become the best from only working on their stickhandling in practice and games.
It’s a craft that you need to master with some off-ice hockey stickhandling drills and many hours of hard work.
Unfortunately, as a kid, I didn’t do too much work on my stickhandling outside of my ice time.
Like many hockey players, I did shoot pucks at home and saw the benefit of that – but for whatever reason, I didn’t do much stickhandling.
I want to help you make sure you avoid the mistake I made by not stickhandling at home.
Here are 11 hockey stickhandling drills that will help you become a better stickhandler so you can stand out on the ice!
Limited Space Hockey Stickhandling Drills
Let me start off with a very basic drill that I love to use as a warm-up drill for almost all stickhandling training sessions.
Even though stickhandling isn’t too intense of exercise I still think a warm-up is a good idea to get the body and mind prepared for the session.
This 7-Point Stickhandling Drill involves stickhandling at 7 different places around your body and gets your hands, forearms, and core warm and ready to go.
5-Point Toe Drag Drill
Similar to the 7-Point Drill, this 5-Point Toe Drag Drill is more so used for a warm-up to get used to doing some toe-drags for more advanced toe drag work that will come later in the training session.
This is all about getting a feel for the puck. Simply perform toe-drags at 5 different places around your body, as shown in the video demonstration.
Thanks to Max Ivanov (2-Time Stanley Cup Champion as Pittsburgh Penguins Skills Coach) for this drill idea. Although the video has him on the ice, this is also great for off-ice training too.
For this drill, all we need is a line in front of our body as shown. This could be a skipping rope, a line of pucks, or even an imaginary line if needed.
There are two variations to this wide stickhandling drill. The first is starting by sticking handling in the middle, and then moving the puck wide to your forehand side, back to the middle for a few quick stickhandles, and then to your backhand side wide, and repeat.
The second variation is starting off with some quick stickhandling in the middle, followed by moving the puck wide and around the line. Repeat but in the opposite direction.
I’m a big fan of wide stickhandling drills as it’s something that usually isn’t practiced too much, but comes into play quite a bit in game situations. There are often times in games where you have one hand on your stick and need to control the puck out wide or pull it back into your body from out wide.
Hockey players need a feel for this wide stickhandling, and also the grip, wrist, and forearm strength to control the puck away from the body.
Stickhandling From Line To Line
This one again is thanks to Max Ivanov who has worked with NHL greats including Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin!
It is similar to the previous Wide Stickhandling Drill, but for this one when we bring the puck out wide we are going to be stickhandling out wide on both the forehand and backhand side.
The lines should be set up slightly less wide than the previous drill, as we want to be able to do some quick stickhandling at each point with two hands on the stick (whereas the previous drill was more about controlling the puck with one hand very far away from the body).
Narrow To Wide Stickhandling
I’m going to mix in my variation of practicing wide stickhandling with my Narrow To Wide Stickhandling drill.
With this one, we have four pucks set up – two about one foot apart, and then two more out wide (roughly 5 feet apart – but pick a distance that works best for your reach).
We are going to do 5 quick stickhandles in tight, and then follow that with 5 reps back and forth out wide. This is a good hybrid drill for practicing your narrow and wide stickhandling.
McDavid Lateral Crossover Conditioning Drill
This drill went viral, as it was a drill that Connor McDavid did as a teenager and there’s some great video footage of him performing the drill. And because he’s arguably the best hockey player in the world, it makes sense to try and figure out how he got there!
I love this drill as a finisher drill because of the conditioning effect for your legs. I recommend placing it at the end of a stickhandling training session (I’ve included it as an optional finisher in our Hockey Skills Training Pro workouts).
For this drill, we want to have two lines on the ground (ideally tape or something you can’t roll your ankle on) that we will be doing lateral crossovers over top. Use a stickhandling ball for this one as we want to concentrate on quick hands, having your head up, and fast explosive crossovers.
Vertical Figure 8s
This is a simple drill that works on forehand side stickhandling with a bit of toe drag work involved as well.
Set up two pucks on your forehand side vertically (one roughly in line with your toe and then another about a foot in front of that).
All you will be doing is making figure 8s with your puck between the two pucks. Make sure you switch directions every set.
Rollerblading Hockey Stickhandling Drills
Even better than just stickhandling from a standstill position, is putting on some rollerblades and performing some hockey stickhandling drills while moving.
This won’t 100% replicate the ice because of the differences in surfaces, but it does have a pretty good carry over if you can find a smooth surface and are using the proper puck (I like the “green biscuit” puck).
Here are some great drills you can do on your blades:
Pull Back + Quick Cut Back
I love this drill because it combines to stickhandling moves into one, and forces you to have quick hands.
Set up pucks or cones in a zig-zag style like you can see in the video (adjust the distance between as needed).
As you approach the first cone on your forehand side you will perform a “pull back” move (pull the puck back towards your body on the backhand side of the stick). Perform a few stickhandles in the middle, and when you approach the cone on the backhand side you will perform a quick “cut back” move (where you are essentially just pulling the puck back across to your forehand side quickly).
With the pucks in a zig-zag style, you will want to skate in a fairly straight line between the pucks. As you approach a puck on your backhand or forehand side you want to stickhandle around it with your hands going wide away from your body (try not to cheat and skate too much towards the cone).
This is another great wide stickhandling drill that hockey players can use to get comfortable stickhandling away from their bodies.
Mohawk Into 1-on-1 Move
One reason I love rollerblading training for hockey players is that you can also work on some skating techniques. This drill incorporates a bit of a puck protection move using the mohawk skating technique, and then we move into a 1-on-1 move.
I like to set up a “C” like shape with the pucks for the first mohawk puck protection move, and then you can use anything as the defender to make your 1-on-1 move on.
Stickhandling Obstacle Course
This is pretty much a free-for-all hockey stickhandling drill that you can set up however you like. The main idea is that you set up an obstacle course that replicates a game situation, or uses as many different stick skills as possible.
In my obstacle course I set up a defender to perform a 1-on-1 move on, then had pucks set out in a straight line to either stickhandle between or pull of a forehand or backhand toe drag on, and then went on to pass the puck aiming to hit my target (my hockey gloves) and finished by crashing the net for a pretend rebound.
You can be creative and set up any type of stickhandling course while also incorporating skating, passing and shooting too!
Recap Of Stickhandling Drills For Hockey Players
The above are just a small portion of the stickhandling drills we have loaded into our Hockey Skills Accelerator member’s area.
If you’d like more drills and complete done-for-you training sessions to follow in order to improve your stickhandling skills and become a better hockey player I highly recommend you sign up to join the team here.
Whether you join our team or not, I think it’s extremely important for all hockey players to be practicing their stickhandling skills away from the rink at least a few times per week.
The great thing about stickhandling training is that you don’t need to buy any additional training aids and most work can be done with just a stick and a few pucks.
I hope you enjoyed these drill ideas, now go put in the work!
Frequently Asked Stickhandling Training Questions
It’s something you can be doing every day, but I would recommend working on your stickhandling away from the rink at least 1-2 times per week.
Yes, although you should be careful that you aren’t tiring your body out. I personally like a light 10-15 minute stickhandling session just to get a feel for the puck.
20-40 minutes is the ideal range for a stickhandling session. With that said, I would rather a hockey player do 10 minutes a day over no stickhandling work.
Practice the skills on a regular basis. This means doing stickhandling training sessions at home, on top of the work you do in on-ice practices. Aim for doing some work with the puck (on or off the ice) 5+ days per week.