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08-04-2011, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by j cal View Post
Great advice here, thanks everyone.

I don't want to skate at 80% either BUT I believe if I'm trying to drill it into the zone and there isn't anyone with me, it would be pretty tough for me to make a good play (unless I had excellent puck control). But even if so, that's not exactly what I'm trying to accomplish here.

Where I skate, there are a lot of guys that will backcheck real well, but then go in for a pokecheck/lunge forward trying to make a defensive play. If I had the right awareness, I should be able to make one move and blast right past him in that instance.

I also find myself going way too fast where I'm just making it easier for the d-men because I skate mostly north-south without maneuvering east-west.

I won't even bring up my lack of positioning skills in both zones...
Where do you skate? I mean do you play in a league where wins and losses are tracked or is it strictly pickup? If it's just pickup, make the most of each time you touch the puck and try to make it last -- 2 seconds, 5 seconds, 10 seconds without passing or having it stripped from you. The more confident you become in handling it and protecting it the less pressured you'll feel to get rid of it and make the bad pass. And if you do turn the puck over it doesn't really matter because it's only pickup.

Honestly, I'm in a similar situation. I'm not a fast skater but I'm even slower with the puck on my stick. I'm pretty agile but my puck handling skills don't match up with my skating so that's not really an asset either. I always *think* (because I look down at the puck too often) that somebody is just about to pick my pocket so I try to get rid of the puck as quickly as possible. That's a whole lot of problem areas for me to fix but at least it's a starting place. Anyway, here's my course of action in order of importance:

1. Play more pickup hockey and don't worry so much about making mistakes. As long as I believe that the worst thing I can do is turn the puck over I'll never try to hold and protect the puck. If I'm going to learn I have to allow myself to cough up the puck now and again and not take it so hard. I also play in a men's league so in league games I'll look for the safe play and take fewer chances. The aim is to make myself a better player through practice so that what's risky now becomes second nature to me in game situations.

2. Learn to protect the puck. To me this is far more important than learning to skate more quickly with the puck. For as long as the puck is on my stick I control the game, no matter how slowly I skate. What good is it if I skate the puck up the ice quickly, only to turn it over and have to backcheck?

3. Make smart decisions with the puck. The whole purpose of learning to protect the puck is to gain time to make a smart play. Clearing the puck out of my end is the bare minimum I should expect of myself. Starting a successful breakout, either by skating the puck out or passing up to a streaking winger can mean creating a scoring chance or at least giving my teammates a chance to change up. But this is a process -- I'm bound to make some bad decisions along with the good ones. It's important for me to be aware of what works, what doesn't and to adjust my strategies for the next time. Above all, don't be too afraid to screw up.

4. Lastly, do everything quicker. Speed is definitely an asset. But it's more important to build consistency in my play -- my decision making and my execution -- before I start trying to do everything quickly.

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