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Decision time with puck

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Old
04-26-2009, 06:04 PM
  #1
Tommi Santala
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Decision time with puck

I'm fairly new to ice hockey, in fact I joined my first league in April. I am a pretty decent skater, but I find that I take way too long to make decisions with the puck, which allows defenders/backcheckers to close on me. I play wing, by the way.

Is this something that will go away as I play more games and get more confident with the puck? Or is there something I can do to speed up my decision making?

Also, my shot is very hit or miss. I can't get away a very good shot unless I have plenty of time.

Any help is appreciated!

Cheers

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04-26-2009, 06:08 PM
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Gunnar Stahl 30
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you have only been playing for a few weeks, do you really expect to be sharp in all facets of the game?

with time, your decision making will come easier and faster. that is more of a game situation thing

you can work on your shot at practice though.

you really should work on your skating above everything. it will make everything better. if you arent a good skater, your shot wont be as good, your defense etc.

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04-26-2009, 06:14 PM
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cptjeff
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Practice and experience are what you need. For shooting, if you have a basement or garage with a smooth concrete floor, cover a puck in duct tape (ideally the gorilla tape brand, which has a better adhesive). layer two strips side by side top and bottom, fold the corners over and cut a strip in half lengthwise and wrap it around the edges. Then take a hockey stick and shoot it against your basement or garage wall (Ideally cinderblock).
The duct tape keeps it from marking, feel free to skip it if you don't care. Use either a shorter stick or practice on rollerblades so you don't throw off the height and lie of the stick.

As for decisions with the puck, only playing can help that.

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04-26-2009, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cptjeff View Post
Practice and experience are what you need. For shooting, if you have a basement or garage with a smooth concrete floor, cover a puck in duct tape (ideally the gorilla tape brand, which has a better adhesive). layer two strips side by side top and bottom, fold the corners over and cut a strip in half lengthwise and wrap it around the edges. Then take a hockey stick and shoot it against your basement or garage wall (Ideally cinderblock).
The duct tape keeps it from marking, feel free to skip it if you don't care. Use either a shorter stick or practice on rollerblades so you don't throw off the height and lie of the stick.

As for decisions with the puck, only playing can help that.
I'll go one step further and recommend the non marking pucks that you can buy that have more of a plastic vulcanized rubber. They are more slippery than the regular rubber pucks and will actually slide very well on carpeting. They will damage and still make marks on a basement wall but not as dramatic, I mentioned more for the slippery aspects of them .... they are different than regular rubber pucks.

I learned to shoot with those, they are regulation weight and size. I would take the legs off of a large kitchen table so I could wear skates to make it as close to possible to the regular height if playing so the same shooting mechanics are achieved like you mentioned already.

I would either cover the table with short knapped carpet or not even use a carpet.

It really helped and it is slick enough to practice stick handling with a puck rather than a tennis ball or whatever. Cheap and it works especially if a formica toppped table is used.

I would also use spray furniture polish on the puck to give it some more glide.

mainly I used a table because I didn't have a basement to use and would just go outdoors in the backyard with it.

About the puck decision stuff .... the puck tells you your job like you said more or less.

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04-26-2009, 06:38 PM
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Tommi Santala
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Thanks for the replies so far guys - really helpful. I'll be sure to work on my skating more. I think it is the strongest part of my game right now.

Unfortunately it's a mens league (one game a week/no practice), so the only other place is to work on my shot is at pick-up or at the house.

I also picked up one of those smart hockey balls, so hopefully using that will improve my hands.

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04-26-2009, 06:45 PM
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The Tikkanen
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I try to remember where my teammates were when I got the puck. I know where everybody is before I have the puck so that when I do get it I can make quick decisions. Since you're starting out you will have to look down at the puck to do everything so making quick decisions will be difficult unless you're a natural at the game.

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04-26-2009, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommi Santala View Post
Thanks for the replies so far guys - really helpful. I'll be sure to work on my skating more. I think it is the strongest part of my game right now.

Unfortunately it's a mens league (one game a week/no practice), so the only other place is to work on my shot is at pick-up or at the house.

I also picked up one of those smart hockey balls, so hopefully using that will improve my hands.
Well I thought of another thing to help with decision making ... play some floor hockey with people. There are floor hockey leagues in just about every state. there is one here played at a local recreation center.

it won't help you too much with actually playing ICE hockey but you will have to run with a puck and make passes (decisions) to make plays happen.

But for ice hockey just remember the basics. headman the puck ... which means give the puck to the guy with you who is up ahead of you so you don't force on offsides because you are taking too long to get rid of the puck.

Another old saying is "the boards are your friends". If you are undecided what to do with the puck don't be afraid to throw it up the boards where you are closest to them. Don't ice the puck or anything but play it up ahead of you and if possible try to see if you are throwing it up to a player on the other team whoi can then send it back making you look like a jerk for turning the puck over in the neutral zone.

Playing hockey isn't easy if you are a beginner and it is important to realize that and play within your limitations. there are experieinced players who are puck hogs and hold onto it too long and lose the puck like dopes because they want to be Ovechkin or something.

use your team mates! it is a team game. The really good players when playing on a team will pass and make decisions quickly and rarely hold onto the puck too long.

Puck hogs suck to play with on a team whether they are really good or not. the show off "look how good I am" guys all suck to play with on a team. We get rid of any player who wants to play for our team and is a puck hog.

The point is use your team mates. it is a team game .... you'll learn soon enough. Most amatures hold onto the puck too long and give the other team time to read that and steal it.

The important thing is to keep the puck out of danger in your own end or in the neutral zone. While still important in the offensive zone you can afford more fiddle diddle there to try and make a play happen.

Just have fun with it.

There is much to learn, I've been playing for 35 years and still learn stuff almost every week.

Now if we could get our defensmen to stop trying top force a pass up the middle in our own end I will be happy haha.

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04-26-2009, 10:30 PM
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EmptyNetter
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One thing I'd add (good tips so far) is to keep moving when you have the puck. If you stand still they can cut off your shooting and passing lanes. If you're moving those lanes keep changing so you're making the defender's job more difficult. Also, start thinking what you'll do with the puck before you even get it. Don't get clever and keep it simple --

1. shoot
2. pass to a man near the net
3. pass to a man open along the boards
4. dump the puck in the corner and then chase after it

Most important is that you're patient with yourself. You're just learning and you'll make mistakes. For the longest time I'd try to get rid of the puck as soon as I got it. You'll get better the more times you try to keep the puck. You'll learn nothing if you don't try.

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04-26-2009, 10:32 PM
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Another way to work on your puck handling skills is to use a golf ball. they really improve your skills in that area, moreso than the smart ball, because they're smaller and harder to handle.

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04-26-2009, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Quik View Post
Another way to work on your puck handling skills is to use a golf ball. they really improve your skills in that area, moreso than the smart ball, because they're smaller and harder to handle.
Interesting, I'll give that a whirl soon.

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04-26-2009, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by EmptyNetter View Post
One thing I'd add (good tips so far) is to keep moving when you have the puck. If you stand still they can cut off your shooting and passing lanes. If you're moving those lanes keep changing so you're making the defender's job more difficult. Also, start thinking what you'll do with the puck before you even get it. Don't get clever and keep it simple --

1. shoot
2. pass to a man near the net
3. pass to a man open along the boards
4. dump the puck in the corner and then chase after it

Most important is that you're patient with yourself. You're just learning and you'll make mistakes. For the longest time I'd try to get rid of the puck as soon as I got it. You'll get better the more times you try to keep the puck. You'll learn nothing if you don't try.
Yep good advice there.

Also trying something like shinny hockey will help a lot. He can try everything he wants to there without worry of blowing the game.

I play shinny once a week for practice really and try things I am working on and then try them out when my team plays.

This is a good forum as I have learned a couple of things from some of you guys in other threads.

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04-27-2009, 12:55 AM
  #12
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This happens to every player I've ever heard of. It will get better with experience, and you have to focus on finding a teammate to pass to quickly.

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04-27-2009, 01:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommi Santala View Post
Thanks for the replies so far guys - really helpful. I'll be sure to work on my skating more. I think it is the strongest part of my game right now.

Unfortunately it's a mens league (one game a week/no practice), so the only other place is to work on my shot is at pick-up or at the house.

I also picked up one of those smart hockey balls, so hopefully using that will improve my hands.
Pickup is a GREAT way to improve decision time and your overall skill set. You will be playing with players better then you, which really helps you learn. You see the plays, are on the ice with them and have to force yourself to think and play faster. Just don't try and learn positioning from pickup.


Oh, and another suggestion for practice. If you don't have a basement or garage that you can use, get a sheet of linoleum and a cheap net, and you can just use regular pucks, it's smooth so they slide pretty well.

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04-27-2009, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by EmptyNetter View Post
Also, start thinking what you'll do with the puck before you even get it.
This is the key. You have to learn to keep track of where players are around you when you don't have the puck, so when you do get the pass you already know what to do next. It's not something that can be taught easily, but it can come with time and experience.

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04-27-2009, 11:25 AM
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Your decisions are made easier once you understand what plays you are NOT supposed to ever consider making in transition:

Ie: Playing the puck from your defenisve hash marks,into the middle of the rink...(It doesn't matter if your dumb a$$ centreman is blazing down the rink like Randy Moss...don't try that pass...its alluring...I know...but it won't get where you want it to go 90% of the time!!!

On the attack...follow a simple rule of thumb: When you have the puck...make plays TOWARDS the net...(not cross ice, no drop passes!!)

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04-27-2009, 01:21 PM
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cptjeff
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Your decisions are made easier once you understand what plays you are NOT supposed to ever consider making in transition:

Ie: Playing the puck from your defenisve hash marks,into the middle of the rink...(It doesn't matter if your dumb a$$ centreman is blazing down the rink like Randy Moss...don't try that pass...its alluring...I know...but it won't get where you want it to go 90% of the time!!!

On the attack...follow a simple rule of thumb: When you have the puck...make plays TOWARDS the net...(not cross ice, no drop passes!!)
And keep in mind that those are rule for beginners. More experienced players violate them all the time. The difference being that they know when and how to.

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04-27-2009, 03:35 PM
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Tommi Santala
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Thanks again guys, great advice.

I'll keep going to drop-in and work on all your suggestions.

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04-27-2009, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommi Santala View Post
I'm fairly new to ice hockey, in fact I joined my first league in April. I am a pretty decent skater, but I find that I take way too long to make decisions with the puck, which allows defenders/backcheckers to close on me. I play wing, by the way.

Is this something that will go away as I play more games and get more confident with the puck? Or is there something I can do to speed up my decision making?

Also, my shot is very hit or miss. I can't get away a very good shot unless I have plenty of time.

Any help is appreciated!

Cheers
I can't believe the Thrashers wasted a draft pick on this Santala guy







1) With time you will adjust to the pace of play.
2) I used to shoot in my garage all the time with a tennis ball just to work on a quick release.
3) In most US cities there is no practice time, I use roller blades to work on things in between games.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tikkanen View Post
I try to remember where my teammates were when I got the puck. I know where everybody is before I have the puck so that when I do get it I can make quick decisions. Since you're starting out you will have to look down at the puck to do everything so making quick decisions will be difficult unless you're a natural at the game.
This is also really good advice. One league I play has a very wide range of skill levels. The beginners are always so focused to catching the puck that they have no idea what they are going to do with it after they get it. Take a quick peek before you get the puck. This can takes years to do consistently in games--but start trying to do it now.


Last edited by Enstrom39: 04-27-2009 at 10:42 PM.
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04-28-2009, 04:11 PM
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This happens to every player I've ever heard of. It will get better with experience, and you have to focus on finding a teammate to pass to quickly.
Perfect answer here. You here announcers always saying "He's creating room for himself", these are what good players do. If you cant make a decision, learn the little plays that give you extra time to do so(streaking down the wing, cut just inside the hashmarks, gives you pass, shoot, or keep skating options/go around the net with head up alot, etc etc)

But the real thing is, you cant teach hockey sense. Just takes practice.

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04-28-2009, 04:24 PM
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Another way to work on your puck handling skills is to use a golf ball. they really improve your skills in that area, moreso than the smart ball, because they're smaller and harder to handle.
I have tried this out, and I can say it improved my puck handling as well.

+1 To most, if not all, of the replies so far.

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04-28-2009, 07:06 PM
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Work on stickhandling with your headup and most of your decisions will already be made for you if you can see the ice

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05-02-2009, 05:57 PM
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lots of good tips, i know you didn't metion about receiving pucks, but with a lot of beginners, receiving the puck is also a problem spot. practice handling the puck but also work on receiving passes on the fly. once you mesh with your linemates and able to pass quickly and receive while you're on your full stride, you should be able to own the beginner leagues.

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05-02-2009, 06:09 PM
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lots of good tips, i know you didn't metion about receiving pucks, but with a lot of beginners, receiving the puck is also a problem spot. practice handling the puck but also work on receiving passes on the fly. once you mesh with your linemates and able to pass quickly and receive while you're on your full stride, you should be able to own the beginner leagues.
This is my biggest weakness (well, maybe one of my biggest - there's a lot of them). Is there any way to work on this other than just getting on the ice and passing a puck with someone? None of the rinks in my area have sticktime, so that's kind of hard to do.

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05-02-2009, 06:16 PM
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This is my biggest weakness (well, maybe one of my biggest - there's a lot of them). Is there any way to work on this other than just getting on the ice and passing a puck with someone? None of the rinks in my area have sticktime, so that's kind of hard to do.
even stick handling with a golf ball will help "soften" your hands and get the motion down. its important to actually receive the pass and not just let it bounce of your stick. you have to cushin the puck as it is comes. its a very similar motion to making a pass just opposite. when you do it though, dont look at the ball. look up

saucer passes are alot of fun and very usefull to make too when you get there. there is a definite technique to it to actually get the right height, sauce and to land it where you want it to land

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05-02-2009, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Gunnar Stahl 30 View Post
even stick handling with a golf ball will help "soften" your hands and get the motion down. its important to actually receive the pass and not just let it bounce of your stick. you have to cushin the puck as it is comes. its a very similar motion to making a pass just opposite. when you do it though, dont look at the ball. look up

saucer passes are alot of fun and very usefull to make too when you get there. there is a definite technique to it to actually get the right height, sauce and to land it where you want it to land
I learned my saucer passing by watching Mario Lemieux and have also watched marc Savard with the bruins who holds his hands up high on the shaft almost together when he does it.

As for passing "tape to tape" as asked by DevilsFan38 ... boy that is a tough one unless you are actually skating and passing with someone. All i can think of if you cannot have ice time for practicing alone off the top of my head is to try indoor hockey like floor hockey and while running pass with someone else. There wouldn't be much difference as far as timing goes though the puck will be lighter for floor hoickey since it is a hockey puck that is light or a roller hockey ball.

On outdoor ice I would place pucks at random here and there and would skate around hitting the pucks with other pucks like I was passing to someone's blade who wasn't moving while I was moving.

You could bank pucks of the kickplate on an indoor rink and try to hit it with a puck pass while skating in motion.

other than that I have not much useful info to try.

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