Stickhandling is among the most important skills a young hockey player can work to master. Outside of skating, it is the skill that players will use the most on the ice. What is the key to becoming a great dangler? It is practice and repetition. The more you practice stickhandling the better you become. The players that become the best stick handlers in the world are the ones that spend the most time working on the craft. Here are a few stickhandling tips and stickhandling drills to turn a regular hockey player into an expert dangler.
The Fundamentals of Stickhandling
The number one thing to know and remember about stickhandling that it is all about controlling the puck. It is not just about moving the puck side to side, it is about the ability to control the puck anywhere around your body while skating. When you watch the best stick handlers, it can sometimes be hard to see where their stick end and the puck begins. This is because they have so much control over the puck. It almost looks like it is stuck to their stick.
To reach this level of comfort with the puck on your stick, young players should start slow, back and forth. Then, you want to start doing it without looking and developing a feel for the puck. Finally, you want to start expanding where you can control the puck. Stickhandling in the full range of your stick’s reach. In front of yourself, on both sides, and even behind you. Once a player masters that, it is just about constant practice and repetition to get more and more adept and comfortable.
Since stickhandling is about practice and reputation, working through a wide range of stickhandling drills is a good idea. Each drill should work on a different aspect of stickhandling but they should all have the same result; being more comfortable and in control of the puck. Here are some great stickhandling drills to try.
- Soft Touch Drill – Quickly touching a puck or ball with either side of your stick moving it back and forth just a few inches. Challenge yourself to do this faster and faster without losing control.
- Around the Body – Standing in one spot and using the same quick, soft touches, stickhandle in an arc from all the way on one side of your body to all the way on the other side.
- Tight & Away – The same basic drill as Around the Body but you alternate making arc as close to your feet or skates as possible for one rep and as far away from your body as you can on the next rep.
Stickhandling Training Aid
Because of how time and repetition is to becoming great at stickhandling, it is so important a player commits to off-ice stickhandling training as well. The best way to train off the ice is with the SweetHands Hockey Stickhandling Trainer. This stickhandling trainer will help increase a player’s puck control, feel, and stickhandling speed as well as improving timing and hand/eye coordination. Using it off the ice in any indoor setting will develop the skills needed to better control the puck back on the ice. It can be used for numerous drills and by multiple players at a time if need be. You can even get a special SweetHands bundle that comes with a stickhandling trainer and specialized Dangle Balls to be able to do even more targeted training drills.
With these stickhandling tips, you or your young hockey player can develop the stickhandling skills to succeed at every level of the game.