Read these 8 Drills and Practice Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Hockey tips and hundreds of other topics.
When making a pass you want to use a sweeping motion. Rather than "slapping" at the puck, begin with the puck on the heel of your stick and during the sweeping motion, the puck should spin to the toe of your stick and off to your teammate. Like shooting, remember to point the toe of your stick at your target at the end of your follow through to increase accuracy.
If you want to increase your ability to stickhandle through traffic, grab about ten pucks and place them about a foot apart in a straight line. Moving at a comfortable speed, stickhandle through the pucks trying not to hit any of the stationary pucks. If you find the distance between the pucks is too easy, move them closer together and see how close you can get them.
A fun drill for goalies after practice is the rebound game. Three players play against the goalie while a goal and save are each worth one point. Players shoot from the slot and if they score the players get a point, if the goalie makes a save and clears the rebound then he/she gets a point. If the goalie saves it, but the forwards grab the rebound and score, then again they get a point. Games are normally played to ten and when the forward who shoots does not score and the goalie clears the rebound, another forward takes over and so on.... This drill works on the forwards' shots and forces goalies to clear their rebounds.
To improve stickhandling skills, take your hockey gloves off and place them on the ice about 3 feet apart. Stickhandle a figure-8 around the gloves, increasing speed when you begin to feel comfortable. This will not only increase stickhandling speed and control, but will build up strength in your forearms.
Make it a rule that all shots in practice must hit the net (since you can't score if don't hit the net and it gives your goalie more practice) and keep the shots low. The last thing you want is for your goalie to take a shot off the mask in practice and then fear the puck in an upcoming game.
Very often when a team is playing poorly, they are not executing the basic skills of hockey - skating, passing, and shooting. If a team is not meeting expectations, try to refocus on the basics and work from there. Often, players make the game more complicated than it really is. As Gretz always says, "Hockey is merely a game of two-on-ones."
The difference between a good team that is successful in the playoffs and a team that gets upset in an early round is how the team practices throughout the year. If you consistently work your players until exhaustion every practice they will have nothing left by the end of the year AND be extremely injury prone. The day before a game should be an opportunity to get a little sweat going and move your feet a bit - if a team is practicing poorly, throw them off the ice rather than tiring them out for the upcoming game. Also, toward the end of the season every player will have some type of nagging injury and to consistently exhaust them during practice is counterproductive.
Special teams make or break any hockey team, so why do so many coaches avoid the fine tuning? There are several methods to working on PP but I recommend starting 5 v 0 and let your Power Play unit get used to moving the puck. Once they look sharp, add a couple defending players so they get used to hitting the open man and then throw all four penalty killers at them.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|