Looking to improve your hockey skills? These 10 tips will help keep you sharp and in the game.
By Warren Tabachnick
There are a number of key elements that, combined, help define a good ice hockey player. Following these key points will help keep you at the top of your hockey game.
It cannot be emphasized enough that to be a good hockey player requires that you skate, and skate well. Quick starts and stops, sharp turns, and explosive acceleration are needed to ensure you’re in the right position at all times. If you’re not quite up to speed, consider a skating clinic.
Puck movement is critical in hockey. Whether it’s on a breakout, in the neutral zone, or on a scoring drive to the net, learning to pass the puck well is a skill that must be mastered. Work on your hard pass, saucer pass, wrister, lifter, and more.
Spend some time perfecting your wrist shot and slap shot. If ice is not available for practice time, use a street hockey puck or ball to hone your shooting skills.
4. The Backhand Shot
Developing an effective backhand shot almost always gives you the edge when shooting on a net. It often can be difficult for a goalie to prepare for a backhander since this type of shot causes the puck to travel at weird angles.
5. Keep Your Head Up
If you’re like the majority of us recreational ice hockey players, giving or taking a body check is not something you’re concerned with when you’re out on the ice. Learning to skate and stickhandle with your head up will not only keep you safer, it allows you to better see the ice and make more informed decisions in a hockey game.
6. Soft Hands
You probably hold your hockey stick with firm hands, which is what many players do. Using “soft hands” will enable you to react faster to receive a pass and shoot.
7. Stick on the Ice
Think about how many missed opportunities were caused by not having your stick on the ice. If the blade of your hockey stick is not flat on the ice, those scoring chances will go whizzing by.
8. Stay Focused
If your mind is not on your game, you’ll tend to rush things and make the wrong decisions. Conversely, thinking too much can have the same effect. Having a strong understanding about the game will help you to be more relaxed during a game, leading to better focus. And better focus will give you the confidence need to perform your best.
No matter what, you won’t improve your hockey skills unless you keep yourself properly conditioned. Watch what you eat (or drink), do some pre-game stretching and post-game cool-down exercises, and make sure you get plenty of rest. (See “Tips for High-Performance Hockey.”)
10. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Now that you’re aware of what goes into becoming a good hockey player, head to your local rink for some stick time where you can practice these tips. Then you can use them in your next hockey game.
Warren Tabachnick is always looking for ways to improve his game.
Got any tips on improving your skills? Share them with us!