50 Ways To
Improve Your Game!
Greg Siller - Pro Learning Systems
As the ability of roller hockey players improves with each passing season;
it is important that you periodically evaluate your game to make sure that you
are not only playing well; you're improving. I have compiled several techniques
covered in my book Roller Hockey: Skills And
Strategies For Winning On Wheels that will help you improve your
game! If you don't want the competition to pass you by, put these techniques into
- Choose The Right Stick. Choosing your stick
should be based not only on how it is manufactured (wood/fiberglass,
aluminum, composite) but on how it feels in your hands. It is very
important to choose a stick that feels right and is correct for your
skating and stickhandling style. Factors to consider when selecting your
stick include weight, shaft thickness, shaft flexure, length, blade
curvature, and lie. A good rule of thumb for proper stick length is to
place the stick upright in front of your body with the toe of the blade
resting on the floor. With skates on, an appropriate length occurs when
the end of the shaft reaches just below your chin (or your nose while not
- Select The Right Wheels. The right wheels give
you the skating control you need to maneuver around the playing surface.
Your skating style will determine which wheels are best for you; but make
sure that you have a harder wheel (i.e., 81A - 86A durometer) for a
rougher playing surface and a software wheel (i.e., 76A - 81A) for the
smoother/slicker playing surfaces. Generally, the harder wheels are faster
and the softer wheels grip the surface better.
- Work Your Stride. Bill Zebley, a
Southern California skating instructor, believes that one skating technique
every player can improve on is the stride. To become as efficient as
possible and increase speed, players need to adequately bend their knees
prior to each leg extension and return their skates to the center position
following the leg extension. These two techniques will ensure maximum
distance with each leg thrust, which is a major contributor to efficiency
- Drive With A Mental Edge. Extra drive or desire
comes from the fact that you have developed confidence in your ability to
push the skating envelope and take your skating ability further than you
have before. One or two extra steps on most defenders will allow you to
create many exciting scoring opportunities.
- Feel Your Way To The Net. A player who has the
ability to control and manipulate the puck quickly, accurately, and
consistently by feel is said to have soft hands. All great puck handlers
have soft hands. When maneuvering with the puck toward the net, feel your
way while looking up and evaluating your options.
- Improve Your Puck Control In Traffic. Skating with the puck,
in traffic, is one of the most difficult skills. By working to improve
this ability, you will be able to consistently move past your opponents
and in on net for scoring opportunities.
- Don't Give Away Your Pass. Telegraphing your pass
(looking directly at your receiver prior to passing) gives away the puck.
Telegraphing a pass when your receiver is in traffic allows your teammate
and your opponent to know where your pass is going. A good idea before
making a pass is to read the defensive coverage and then react with a
deceptive move to confuse the defenders. Use your peripheral vision to not
give away your receiver (or the puck).
- Pass To Score! Passing the puck across the goal crease to a teammate
is an excellent way to score. Since a puck can move faster than a
goaltender, getting the puck quickly to the open teammate will usually
leave the goaltender out of position to make a save. By the time the
goaltender moves across the crease, the shot is already in the net and
you've just added a notch to the scoreboard.
- Move To Receive. A receiver's job is to locate open space on the
playing surface to receive a pass. By moving to an unoccupied location,
you provide the passer with an all important option.
- Pass To Yourself. When you are skating with the puck near a defender
(and the boards), use the bank pass to move around the defender and toward
your offensive zone.
- Shoot The Puck! If you don't shoot, you won't score; it's just that
simple. Whatever you do during a game, make sure that your team takes at
least 20 shots before the final buzzer (30 or 40 would be better).
- Always Look For Rebounds. Get into the habit of
following in on a shot to take advantage of any rebounds. Each shot is
really a potential one-two punch; the initial shot and the rebound. The
average goaltender allows many rebounds, especially from low shots. If you
follow in quickly, these rebounds can be turned into additional scoring
- Too Close For Comfort. Many roller hockey players have a habit of moving in
too close as possible to the goaltender before they shoot because they
believe that they need to be as close to the net to score. This habit is
probably the number one reason why scoring opportunities are missed, since
it allows the goaltender added time to react. By staying out far enough
from the goaltender, you can raise your goal scoring average. Most goals
are scored from between 5 to 25 feet out, and directly in front of the
net; with the majority of those goals coming from between 10 to 15 feet
- What Location Do You
To improve your goal scoring stature, get into a high percentage scoring
location before you shoot. The associated figure shows position and
percentage information of typical goal scoring locations. Approximately
sixty percent of goals are scored from the middle slot, 30% (15% on each
side) of goals are scored from the area of the face-off circles, and 10%
(5% on each side) of goals are scored from the extreme angles between the
lower portion of the face-off circle and the goal line. The moment you get
the puck and have a chance to score, you should get into a high percentage
scoring position. Once in a good position, the odds start to swing in your
favor and against the goaltender.
- Just Fake It. The fake shot is an excellent deceptive move to use
on any team a couple of times a game and provides you with an opportunity
to move in closer to the net for a higher percentage scoring opportunity.
The fake slap shot is the most effective due to the large wind up
required. As you take your stick back and then forward, stop it just
before it contacts the puck. Move the puck around the defender and toward
the net for your real chance to score.
- Study The Opposing Goaltender. Shooters should study
opposing goaltenders at every opportunity in order to determine weak and
strong points. The goaltender should be watched carefully during the
pre-game warm-up and as play progresses. When sitting on the bench, you
can learn a lot about the opposing goaltender (and teammates) if you watch
carefully. Most players just watch the game and fail to look for
information they can use to their advantage the next time they are on the
playing surface. When studying a goaltender, think about the following
points and use the information gained to improve you scoring chances: Does
he go down to the playing surface often and what moves get him down there?
Is he good with his glove/blocker? Is he better to one side (stick side or
glove side)? Does he give rebounds off his stick, skates, or pads? Does he
stay in his goal or come out to cut off the angle? Does he keep his legs
together or apart?
- Play The Percentages. Great scorers do more than just shoot the puck in the
direction of the goal, they pick their spots. Factor in the following
percentages when deciding where to shoot. On average, 70% of goals are
scored below knee level, with more goals going in on the goaltenders stick
side (60%) than on his glove side (30%). The top corners should not to be
neglected, since many times the goaltender is sprawled across the playing
surface, leaving the upper corners open. Use this information during
practices to hone your goal scoring prowess.
- Play The Percentages -
Playing the percentages means forcing shots from an angle rather than
directly in front of the net. It also means forcing shots from far out
rather than close in. If a shot is going to be taken, give your goaltender
a fighting chance to stop it.
- Play Each 2-On-1 As A 2-On-2. When playing this
scenario, the defenseman should always remember two things; play the pass
and utilize your goaltender as a second defenseman to play the shooter.
This will increase your teams odds at stopping the attack.
- King Of The Slot. There is one location on the playing surface where
your defensive dominance will be continuously tested throughout the game;
the slot. Your opponents are trying to get into that scoring location
while you try to protect that area. Become a king and play to win all
battles in the slot.
- Give Your Stick A Workout. Use your stick to
strip the puck away from opponents and prevent them from scoring. The
stick is one of the most valuable assets a defenseman has to keep a
defender from acquiring or maintaining control of the puck. If you have
given your stick a workout each game, you know that you've done a good
- Get Your Defense Involved In Your Offense. Roller hockey requires
at least one defenseman to participate in the offense to provide effective
puck control (possession) and add scoring opportunities. Do this by
skating the puck up the playing surface and providing options to both
forwards when the play is in the offensive zone.
- Protect That Puck. During many offensive attacks, it is necessary to
protect the puck from a defender in order to move in on net and set up a
scoring opportunity. That means using your stick or body to keep a
defender from stealing your puck.
- Test The Goaltender. During the beginning of the game, shoot the puck at
various locations on the goaltender. This will give you information about
how the goaltender handles certain shots and where he gives up rebounds.
Once you know the goaltenders strong and weak areas, use that information
to put plenty of quality shots on net and get any rebounds that come your
- Work Behind The Net. When the puck is behind the net, two things occur; 1)
the goaltender is in an awkward position to defend his net, with his eyes
focused on the puck carrier behind him and his body facing the front/side
of the rink, and 2) there is a concentration of players near the net,
creating traffic and confusion for the goaltender. Use that space behind
the net wisely to create many unique offensive opportunities.
- Screen The Goaltender. If the goaltender's view of a shot is blocked, you've
just reduced his overall effectiveness and increased your overall scoring
chance. Utilize a moving or stationary forward as a screen to improve your
teams scoring punch.
- Defensive Forwards. An effective forward is always going to be a two-way
player. When your team loses control of the puck, forwards should position
themselves to regain the puck. In your offensive zone, forechecking adds
the right defensive pressure. In your defensive zone, backchecking is a
- Develop An Effective Stance. Proper stance provides
the foundation for a goaltender to stop any shot. By correctly positioning
your body, arms, legs, and head; you will be able to maintain proper
balance and cover the maximum net area.
- Stamina And Strength Are Crucial. Unlike other members
of a roller hockey team who can rest between shifts, a goaltender is out
there for the entire game. Being able to move quickly, powerfully, and
efficiently, for an entire game, are essential requirements for any
- Know Where You Are At All Times. If a goaltender is
going to cover the maximum amount of net area, he must always know where
he is in relation to the net. Use your stick or gloves to tap the goal
posts when you are close to the net. When you out from the crease, use
reference points on the playing surface or boards to help pinpoint your
- Play The Puck Not The Shooter. A goaltender must
always align himself with the puck and the net to cover the maximum amount
of net. Beginning goaltenders sometimes center themselves on the shooter's
body, creating an additional scoring area for the shooter.
- Behind The Net. The only time a goaltender does not face the play
(align the front of his body with the puck) is when the puck goes behind
the net. Keep your body close to one of the posts and facing toward the
boards; using your turned head to follow the puck. If the puck is passed
to the slot, you are already in position to face the shooter.
- Work The Rebound. Prior to any shot, the goaltender must read the
location of all opponents near the net. This will provide the goaltender
with the information necessary to direct rebounds away from the net as
well as potential scorers.
- Watch The Pros Do It; that means both on television and at the rink. The
pros (or a strong amateur team) can provide you with some very effective
ideas. Watch and learn!
- Develop Your Confidence. Confidence is
fundamental to playing the game of roller hockey. If you are going to
excel at this game, you must have confidence in yourself and believe that
you can play well against any opponent. To recognize an opportunity is one
thing, but to consistently capitalize on those opportunities requires
- Study The Sport. Read roller hockey books such as Roller Hockey:
Skills And Strategies For Winning On Wheels, watch instructional videos
such as Shooting & Stickhandling, and subscribe to magazines like
Roller Hockey to keep up-to-date on news, products, and skills.
- Attend A Hockey School Or Clinic. Give yourself a quick
shot of roller hockey instruction at a hockey school or clinic. The time,
effort, and money invested should pay dividends in your ability to become
a better overall player.
- Know The Rules. Rules define the game of roller hockey. If you know
the rules, you understand one major facet of the game. Use your knowledge
of the rules to play within the boundaries and stay out of the penalty
- Use Video Equipment. A way for good players to become excellent players is
to view their performance on video. Have a parent or coach videotape you
(and your team) during the next practice or game. After you (and your
coach/team) view the tape, identify specific areas for future improvement
and work on those areas the next time you are on skates.
- Know Your Opponent. A well prepared team knows what to expect from the
opposition. To progress to the next level of roller hockey, make a point
of learning the various moves and play patterns of your opponents,
including the forwards, defense, and goaltender(s) and exchange this
information with your teammates. Use this information to exploit your
opponents weaknesses to give you that edge.
- Intensity Versus Patience. Creating opportunities
requires a balance of patience and intensity. Strive to play aggressively
and intensely while maintaining discipline and control; it is a double
edged sword, but it is the best way to create opportunities
- Use Game Statistics To Increase Your Opportunities. During a game, the
coach can identify "hot" players or instruct the team to shoot
more frequently or from higher percentage scoring locations. Over a period
of several games, statistics can show trends which will help the team
improve its overall effectiveness.
- Improve Your Scoring While On The Bench. Spend time after each
shift talking about your effectiveness and sharing information about
opposing players. Discuss what's working, what isn't, and what you should
try on your next shift to improve your play. Knowing your line's strengths
and weaknesses as well as your opponent's, and developing your game around
them, is critical to the success of any team.
- Improve Your Face-Off Win Percentage. Winning face-offs
equates to puck possession and puck possession equates to scoring
opportunities. This is especially true in your offensive end. Techniques
used to win face-offs are: 1) Be quicker than your opponent. This requires
you to watch the official's hand to get the best possible jump. 2) Play
the center's stick to ensure that he doesn't win the draw, and then play
the puck. 3) Physically tie up the opposing center and then use your skate
to move the puck to a teammate.
- Defined Plays With Improvisation. By practicing defined
plays, your team will create a better organized attack than with just an
ad-lib attack, all things being equal. By working on these plays, teams
develop the confidence and ability to improvise on the defined plays when
different situations arise.
- Read, React, And Anticipate. These three components
refer to the ability of a player or players to perceive the play around
them and to respond appropriately. These skills are required during all
phases of the game to regain control of the puck when you are on defense
and to create scoring opportunities when you are on offense. Developing these
skills doesn't come from careful planning but from plenty of practice and
- Create Opportunities Without The Puck. What you do when you
don't have the puck is just as important as what you do with it. Improve
your team's chances for scoring by giving the puck carrier options. That
may require you to move into position to receive a pass, head to the net
for a possible rebound or deflection, or force a defender away from the
- Realize That Coaching Takes Time. Being an effective
coach requires time; time to select your players and get to know them,
time to shape those individuals into a team, and time to help your team
perform and improve during every practice and game. Realizing, up-front,
that you will be spending plenty of time with your team will help ensure
that you plan for that time and make it available.
- Talk With Your Players Frequently. A good coach is a
leader. As a leader, players (and parents) look to you for guidance and
information. Provide this guidance and information through frequent
exchanges of information. Let players know whether they are performing to
their potential, what they are doing well, and what needs improvement.
Giving your players feedback ensures that they have the opportunity to
- Plan To Win. Just as each coach asks his or her players to be
prepared during the season, you should also be prepared by properly
planning out the season. For a coach to be effective, he has to plan, and
many times anticipate, all activities involving the team. Plan to succeed
and you will be rewarded with a smoother road to victory.
Greg Siller @ Pro Learning Systems