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Improving Your Stickhandling

By Greg Siller - Pro Learning Systems


I have looked at your web site and have not seen anything on stickhandling. I do not play in a league but I do play for fun against friends. We do not have very many people so there isn't a lot of passing. I need to know how to stickhandle past them, so that I can improve my game. Please help me. Martin

Well Martin, I am glad to add some information on stickhandling to my web site.

Stickhandling and puck control are skills required to maintain possession of the puck, advance it into the offensive zone, skate in close proximity to opponents without losing control of the puck, create open space in which the puck carrier (and team) can work in, and maneuver close-in on a goaltender to set up a scoring opportunity. Stickhandling is the process of moving the puck with the eventual goal of setting up a scoring opportunity. Puck control is the process of maintaining possession of the puck against one or more opponents and can be performed either individually or as a team.

Although many hockey players possess good skating skills, when the puck is introduced, their level of playing ability drops off due to the added task of keeping the puck on their stick and moving it up the playing surface. The skating ability of proficient hockey players does not drop off when they are in possession of the puck; they are proficient (either naturally or taught) skaters and puck carriers. One of the most important yardsticks for gauging the potential of players, particularly at a young age, is controlling the puck while skating. Two techniques that I instruct all players to learn include the side-to-side stickhandling skill and controlling the puck while moving around an opponent.

The side-to-side is the most commonly used stickhandling technique. The player starts off by moving the puck from side-to-side, using a sweeping motion, in a path that varies from one foot to as wide as you can reach with your stick and arms. The puck is moved to one side, then the stick is lifted over and ahead of the puck to cup it, and then the puck is moved back again. When lifting the stick at the end of the sweep, let the puck move a little ahead of the stick blade so that it is not flipped by the stick as the stick is lifted. This skill is used to fake an opponent into thinking that you are going to move with the puck one way (to the left let's say) and then actually move to the right.

One-handed puck control is a technique used to advance past a defender while keeping the defender away with your free hand. To advance past a defender, a player should move to the outside of the defender, lean slightly into the defender, and with his inside arm, keep the defender from trying to obtain possession of the puck, without holding the defender. The inside arm should be firmly held out to keep the defender from getting too close to the puck while the outside arm and hand control the stick and puck.

Hope these tips improve your game.

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