Hi Hockey Fans,
This week, we’re going to move on to the fourth skill in hockey, which is stick handling!
This skill is one of the most challenging parts of hockey for any beginner. It requires our fine motor skills and is a bit of an unorthodox movement. For me, this is one that we can improve much quicker for beginners if we take some time to practice off the ice. Here are 5 things to keep in mind while you practice:
- Eyes Up – this is the foundation of stick handling. Our goal is to be able to take in information around us and make good decisions based on what we see. If we can’t stick handle with our eyes up, we are missing out on some of our alternatives during the game. When you practice at home, you can watch TV, practice looking around the room, or have a friend make you call out how many fingers they are holding up. Train this skill first as it is the most important and then you can start trying more challenging moves.
- Feel the Puck – when we stickhandle, we want to roll our wrists and keep the puck closer to the heel to maintain control. As we are doing this with our eyes up, we should be focused on getting the feel of the weight of the puck, how it feels on different spots on our blade, and how much we lift the blade over the puck each time we change directions. As you train your brain and hands to feel the puck, you will get better at keeping your eyes up as well!
- Practice with Different Objects – there are so many options out there to work on stick handling. You can use puck like options such as the green biscuit or Fly Pucks. Or you can use a ball, like a golf ball, a weighted ball, or a road hockey ball. Each can offer you something different like forcing you to be quicker with your hands or stronger on your stick. Do a variety of whatever you have for 5 minutes each and you’ll notice that you improve drastically.
- Expand your Range – once you have got the basics down, now try to control the puck further outside of your sweet spot. Most players sweet spots are right in front of them. Try handling the puck on your strong side and then your weak side. You’ll notice that you have more trouble now that you’re challenging yourself to get outside your comfort zone. However, this is exactly what you want! As you continue to practice, you’ll find you can control the puck anywhere around your body.
- Use Your Feet – all too often in hockey, the puck ends up in our skates. Whether it’s from being knocked away, over-skating it, or a bad pass. You should think of your feet as 2 extra sticks and use them to get the puck back to your blade. Again, try to practice this with your eyes up and feel the puck being kicked off your heel, toe, inside, or outside of your foot. You’ll find that the better you get with your feet, the more comfortable you will be taking the puck from your skates to your stick quickly.
If you need any further tips, drop me a line!