Great players are excellent goal scorers, but the really great players are outstanding passers. The “Great One” himself, Wayne Gretzky, had 1,963 regular season assists. It’s fun to watch a player deke a goalie, snipe one top shelf or tap one in into an open net. And while the player scoring the goal gets the spotlight, how the puck got onto their stick is often times just as impressive, if not more skillful than the goal itself. Are you a great passer? If not, all it takes is some hard work developing a few key skills. Here are some tips to consistently put the puck on the tape of your teammates.
Keep Your Head Up
Good passers see the ice because they are not looking at the puck, instead they are paying attention to their linemates. Good passers always know not only where their teammate is on the ice, but more importantly, the location of the stick that they are passing to. There are far too many passes that end up in skates or behind players because it’s originating from a player who doesn’t have their head up, and they are not looking before passing. Players have been told since age 5 to keep their head up, and this is definitely a prerequisite of any good passer.
Passing the puck with accuracy tops the list of ‘musts’ when it comes to passing. As players get older and more talented, any time spent turning to circle back for an errant pass or trying to dig it out of your feet takes away precious time and space. Passing accuracy comes from hard work and spending the time to develop good hand-eye coordination. Take the time to practice not just passing, but passing accurately, every time.
The good passers have their head up and can put the puck on the tape every time. The great passers are able to anticipate the play, they know where the play is going, and if they can’t thread the needle directly to the tape, will give an ‘area’ pass. These passers are the head turners, they have an incredible ability to put the puck into an area of the rink that they know a split second after it arrives, presto, it’s on the tape of teammate cutting across the middle or streaking down the boards.
These are three areas of passing the puck that if you can master the skills, you are going to have a lot of best friends on the team and along the way, win an award or two for being a playmaker as a big-time player. Take the time to practice passing in your basement or garage, trying to hit a specific target over and over. Try from a variety of angles and distances and eventually, over an obstacle or two. Being creative as you practice your passing skills will help in that big game when the puck is on your stick and you have a wide open teammate heading in for the winning goal. Tape to tape!
Remember, always work hard and dream bigger than everyone else!