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How do I get better?

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Old
02-09-2010, 04:28 PM
  #1
seventieslord
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How do I get better?

I quit hockey when I was 15. I was never that great. I was a decent defenseman who had very little offensive upside. Scarred by fear of screwing up, I was content to make the easiest, safest play available to me. I was not a player who "took initiative", so to speak. I was never given a chance to hone my blast from the point because they would rather I just dumped it in the corner or passed to my partner. I was good enough to contribute to a championship team in my final year without screwing anything up, and then I quit.

In the summer of '08, when I was coming 27, my brother convinced me to join "D" level Adult Safe hockey. I was apprehensive but bought some cheap equipment and gave it a shot. As it turns out, I'm still pretty decent. I am still pretty low-key and want to make safe plays. I screw up with the puck surprisingly little, and when I do, it is not for lack of knowing where the puck should go or trying to put it there, the error is simply in the execution.

I figured that I had much more room to improve and play myself into game shape than other players did, because they had already been playing adult safe for X number of seasons, and I hadn't been. That was correct, but it seems that I've plateaued now. My room for improvement is only the same as anyone else's by now. And I don't like where I sit.

In D hockey, I'm pretty much the same player I was as a kid. I seem to have an eye for when to rush the puck now, and I do ok with it, until I eventually get forced to the outside with not many options because I'm apparently not too creative. Probably not having a coach screaming at me helps, too. I also play forward about half the time. My big frame gives them trouble in front of the net, but for the life of me I can't tip a slapshot and I never seem to be the one who gets to that juicy rebound.

I decided this season that I wanted to play on two teams to "speed up" my development, so to speak. I can't improve myself in relation to everyone else if they're all getting the same practice as me, so now I play twice as often. I joined an E team, and I'm noticeably better in E than in D. (surprise, surprise) People actually pass the puck to me and look at me as one of our team's offensive threats. I have nearly double the points per game in E as I do in D. But still, I feel like I could be better. Like there's something in me just needing to be brought out somehow.

I just feel like although my head is in it, I can't always "do" what my brain says I want to do. Especially when an opposing player is trying to stop me from doing it. When he is successful at that, I take it as a personal defeat because I am competitive. Am I clumsy? Lacking agility? Lacking speed? I dunno.

What are some quick and cheap ways to improve my skills? All I want is to be a very good D or E player, I'm not asking a lot.

Main issues:

- Footspeed isn't great. OK top speed, poor acceleration.
- Can't seem to onetime a fast pass if my life depended on it.
- Never seem to have the stamina to make that extra push to catch a player, despite really wanting to.
- Really bad one-on-one. As a defenseman, can get beaten to the outside so easily. Have stuck to skating forward almost exclusively but even that isn't foolproof.
- Offensively, I find it practically impossible to beat a guy one on one. I just get forced to the outside or have it tipped away. I feel so behind the guys who spent their whole childhoods deking guys out.
- Can't seem to "create room" for myself. For example, if I was forced to the outside, I could slam on my brakes and stop, survey my options quickly and make a good pass, but I always feel like my checker is closing in on me and I need to get rid of it, then I dump it into the corner and hope for the best ,or put it past him into a small crowd where my teammate may or may not get it. Why does it seem they give the best players time to do these things? I never feel like I have time.
- Occasionally can rip an amazing slapshot (usually when it's passed to me fast or when I am skating fast) but more often than not, it's rather weak and I'd prefer not to use it.

Anything I can do mentally or physically to get better? Is it just a matter of getting into better physical shape? I'm not in bad shape at all (6'2", 185 lbs, below average body fat, average muscular strength) in fact I appear to be in better shape than 3/4 of the league. But many players in a lot worse shape than me seem to be able to do a lot more.

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02-09-2010, 04:39 PM
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The only thing I can recommend is practice. Taking the initiative to get back into hockey was a good idea, but it all boils down to practice. Work on your shot, because if you can rip an amazing shot at times, then with a bit of work you could be pulling out that shot 98% of the time. Just work on the areas that you are lacking in.

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02-09-2010, 04:50 PM
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Gunnar Stahl 30
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skating

if you cant skate well you will never be a player that is looked at as good. thats the first thing the other team notices, who can skate well. if they skate well thats usually a sign that you are a pretty decent hockey player. thats what i work on alot, im a pretty good skater now, not anything special, but im working on getting my skating to top 10% percent of my league.

i take power skating lessons one on one with a great instructor which helps alot.

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02-09-2010, 05:13 PM
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seventieslord
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Originally Posted by Gunnar Stahl 30 View Post
skating

if you cant skate well you will never be a player that is looked at as good. thats the first thing the other team notices, who can skate well. if they skate well thats usually a sign that you are a pretty decent hockey player. thats what i work on alot, im a pretty good skater now, not anything special, but im working on getting my skating to top 10% percent of my league.

i take power skating lessons one on one with a great instructor which helps alot.
Skating, exactly. I'd say that out of 13 guys on my team, I skate better than 3 of them. So I'm not the worst. Thing is, those three guys still do things with the puck that at this point I can only do in brief flashes. I'm sure it would all seem easier to me if I was moving faster, and that is probably the biggest thing, but I still feel there is more. Foot speed ain't stopping me from tipping shots and getting to rebounds.

I can't see myself going to a power skating instructor as a 28-year old adult safe player. Is it a matter of building leg strength? I can do that at the gym or at home. Is a lot of it technique?

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02-09-2010, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Skating, exactly. I'd say that out of 13 guys on my team, I skate better than 3 of them. So I'm not the worst. Thing is, those three guys still do things with the puck that at this point I can only do in brief flashes. I'm sure it would all seem easier to me if I was moving faster, and that is probably the biggest thing, but I still feel there is more. Foot speed ain't stopping me from tipping shots and getting to rebounds.

I can't see myself going to a power skating instructor as a 28-year old adult safe player. Is it a matter of building leg strength? I can do that at the gym or at home. Is a lot of it technique?
Strength isn't going to get you anywhere without technique.

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02-09-2010, 05:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Skating, exactly. I'd say that out of 13 guys on my team, I skate better than 3 of them. So I'm not the worst. Thing is, those three guys still do things with the puck that at this point I can only do in brief flashes. I'm sure it would all seem easier to me if I was moving faster, and that is probably the biggest thing, but I still feel there is more. Foot speed ain't stopping me from tipping shots and getting to rebounds.

I can't see myself going to a power skating instructor as a 28-year old adult safe player. Is it a matter of building leg strength? I can do that at the gym or at home. Is a lot of it technique?
its 99% technique. once you get the technique down, and not just get comfortable doing the wrong thing, then adding strength will help.

im 6'3 185 and the JV team i coach, there are 5 foot nothin 85 lb kids that, (before i started going to the powerskating lessons) blew right past me and could skate circles around me. they can because have the technique down and get every ounce of energy out of there stride.

pay attention to the good players in your league, or pro games and notice how these players skate. look at their legs, their feet, their upper body their butt, their head....i cant really tell you what my instructor tells me because its more of a thing where you should be on the ice, but the one thing that should help you is to keep your butt low and down move your upper body too much because it can throw you off balance, especially when you are not already a great skater

the thing that separates hockey from any other sport is that it is on ice. i have a few kids on my team that excel in the other sports they play but they arent great hockey players because they cant skate, then there are the 5 foot nothing 85 lbs kids that probably would get destroyed playing football or basketball but because they can skate, they are so much better than the 6'2 210 lbs kids on my team

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02-09-2010, 05:38 PM
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Like someone above said- work on skating. Get the Laura Stamm book or Robbie Glantz videos and work on your agility, a lot. Then work on explosive starts to get your accel up. Next, keep playing and try to play with better players when possible. Finally, get into off ice workouts to fix your weak muscle groups and gain endurance.

Also, begin to work off ice on your puck skills, specifically stick handling, right away.

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02-09-2010, 06:48 PM
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You said you're getting some time as a forward, well I'd say do that more. I'm in a similar boat as you, and when I'm playing up front I feel a lot more comfortable taking risks and trying new things because at worst it'll end up as a turnover, rather than a scoring chance if I were a D man 'trying something'.

Also see if you can find some shinny. If you go to shinny and try to dangle your way down the ice through 8 guys and turn it over, nobody is going to bat an eye because you're just another jackass at shinny.

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02-09-2010, 06:49 PM
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seventieslord
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunnar Stahl 30 View Post
its 99% technique. once you get the technique down, and not just get comfortable doing the wrong thing, then adding strength will help.

im 6'3 185 and the JV team i coach, there are 5 foot nothin 85 lb kids that, (before i started going to the powerskating lessons) blew right past me and could skate circles around me. they can because have the technique down and get every ounce of energy out of there stride.

pay attention to the good players in your league, or pro games and notice how these players skate. look at their legs, their feet, their upper body their butt, their head....i cant really tell you what my instructor tells me because its more of a thing where you should be on the ice, but the one thing that should help you is to keep your butt low and down move your upper body too much because it can throw you off balance, especially when you are not already a great skater

the thing that separates hockey from any other sport is that it is on ice. i have a few kids on my team that excel in the other sports they play but they arent great hockey players because they cant skate, then there are the 5 foot nothing 85 lbs kids that probably would get destroyed playing football or basketball but because they can skate, they are so much better than the 6'2 210 lbs kids on my team
OK, so almost definitely my technique is bad. I'm 28 and to my knowledge, I've skated the same way my whole life. Basically the way I skate is one big bad habit.

Suppose I learn to skate better. Is this going to be something like typing with all 8 fingers, or sitting in my office chair with proper posture, where no matter how much I know how to do it right, my body wants to do it the "easy" way that it is used to? Or, once I skate better is my body going to enjoy the efficiency of motion and strive for it?

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02-09-2010, 06:50 PM
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Don't give yourself too big of a hill to climb. Your list was long so don't try and fix all of it at once. Divide your list up into things that are related and start there. Obviously skating is involved in all of it so that is key. Start with skating forward and work on the skills that you will need in the offensive zone (positioning yourself so you can go around a defender, chip and chase, driving the net) whatever it is. Then maybe move to defense to offense transition (maybe make up for lack of explosion by reading the play quicker so you get started one or two steps earlier) Your head can make up for a lack of speed. I played defense with an NHL HOF left wing who was the slowest skater I ever played with. Didn't keep him from scoring 600 goals. He knew where to go and got there in the most efficient way possible. You played defense before so you know where a defensman wants a forward to be. Read the play and get there, don't wait to see what's going to happen. Hockey is a read and react sport. Making it a watch and react sport puts you 2 steps behind. My son is playing high school hockey and has the same issues so I have been dealing with this for a while. He played for a coach who made him scared to make mistakes so he thinks too much. He knows how to play and I am trying to get him to just play and let it flow. Make mistakes giving 100%.
It sounds like your lower league moves at a pace that you can think one step ahead and thus the game is easier. Don't let your higher league freak you out, it's the same game. It's like anything else, the more you do it the easier it gets. Use your lower league to get better and then implement what you learn into your higher league game.

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02-09-2010, 06:59 PM
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seventieslord
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donGjohnson View Post
Like someone above said- work on skating. Get the Laura Stamm book or Robbie Glantz videos and work on your agility, a lot. Then work on explosive starts to get your accel up. Next, keep playing and try to play with better players when possible. Finally, get into off ice workouts to fix your weak muscle groups and gain endurance.

Also, begin to work off ice on your puck skills, specifically stick handling, right away.
I know my stickhandling needs work. I think the best thing would be to stickhandle with someone who's there to coach me and make it as difficult as possible on me, so my competitive nature forces me to find a way past them. (because I only get this chance about once per period in Adult Safe) The problem with that is, who's going to spend an afternoon with me on the court helping me? So, assuming I can't get a "training buddy", what do you recommend I do by myself to improve my technique?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragss View Post
You said you're getting some time as a forward, well I'd say do that more. I'm in a similar boat as you, and when I'm playing up front I feel a lot more comfortable taking risks and trying new things because at worst it'll end up as a turnover, rather than a scoring chance if I were a D man 'trying something'.

Also see if you can find some shinny. If you go to shinny and try to dangle your way down the ice through 8 guys and turn it over, nobody is going to bat an eye because you're just another jackass at shinny.
LOL. Totally know how you feel when it comes to being a forward as opposed to a defenseman.

Funny thing is, I've scored on an end-to-end solo rush before. I can barely remember it because I wasn't thinking. I just did it. I got into a zone somehow, and saw my way past people, guys who were most likely faster and more skilled than me. Figuring out how to do this on a regular basis, or at least skate through guys on a regular basis (it doesn't always have to always be a solo rush for a goal!) would be real nice. I've got real long reach. Stickhandling should be a strength of mine, not a weakness.

There's not much shinny going on lately, my friends seem to have grown out of it, and I've found that once I got into Adult Safe, my urges to round up people for shinny or for a skate on the outdoor rink have dried up.

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02-09-2010, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Steelhead16 View Post
Don't give yourself too big of a hill to climb. Your list was long so don't try and fix all of it at once. Divide your list up into things that are related and start there. Obviously skating is involved in all of it so that is key. Start with skating forward and work on the skills that you will need in the offensive zone (positioning yourself so you can go around a defender, chip and chase, driving the net) whatever it is. Then maybe move to defense to offense transition (maybe make up for lack of explosion by reading the play quicker so you get started one or two steps earlier) Your head can make up for a lack of speed. I played defense with an NHL HOF left wing who was the slowest skater I ever played with. Didn't keep him from scoring 600 goals. He knew where to go and got there in the most efficient way possible. You played defense before so you know where a defensman wants a forward to be. Read the play and get there, don't wait to see what's going to happen. Hockey is a read and react sport. Making it a watch and react sport puts you 2 steps behind. My son is playing high school hockey and has the same issues so I have been dealing with this for a while. He played for a coach who made him scared to make mistakes so he thinks too much. He knows how to play and I am trying to get him to just play and let it flow. Make mistakes giving 100%.
It sounds like your lower league moves at a pace that you can think one step ahead and thus the game is easier. Don't let your higher league freak you out, it's the same game. It's like anything else, the more you do it the easier it gets. Use your lower league to get better and then implement what you learn into your higher league game.
Hey, thanks for all that.

(if you're trying to be mysterious about who you played with, you'll need to be a little more vague.... only four LWs have scored 600 goals and just two of them are in the hall, and no one would EVER call Bobby Hull slow )

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02-09-2010, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
OK, so almost definitely my technique is bad. I'm 28 and to my knowledge, I've skated the same way my whole life. Basically the way I skate is one big bad habit.

Suppose I learn to skate better. Is this going to be something like typing with all 8 fingers, or sitting in my office chair with proper posture, where no matter how much I know how to do it right, my body wants to do it the "easy" way that it is used to? Or, once I skate better is my body going to enjoy the efficiency of motion and strive for it?
its going to be both.....let me explain

my instructor tied these elastic cords to my skates and the back of my pants in an attempt to make me sit lower. it was very uncomfortable, and a little over the top but once he took them off and i sat lower i noticed my stride was much more efficient and i was exuding as much energy and going faster

once you get comfortable with these new techniques you wont have to think about how you should be skating and your lack of conditioning wont be as much of a detriment(like mine is)

start with simple things like your forward stride. if you cant go to an instructor i would recommend watching some videos and practicing those techniques, even if you have to force yourself to which may be uncomfortable atleast at first

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02-09-2010, 07:31 PM
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Making yourself skate better is as easy as learning the proper technique and then making yourself put that knowledge into practice. However, it takes a long time to change what you've been doing for so long.

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02-10-2010, 09:52 AM
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1. Realize that you are just playing for fun, not a career and you will be better.

2. You should have gotten on a "C" team instead of an "E" team. You get better by playing with better players, not equal or worse ones.

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02-10-2010, 11:10 AM
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- Can't seem to onetime a fast pass if my life depended on it.
Simple solution: forget the one-timer. Most players at your level can't execute a one-timer to save their lives, so instead catch the pass and then shoot. The time you lose isn't bad when you consider the alternative is to miss it entirely and waste the play.

I'm a B-C player, and I try to avoid one-timers because I'm much more effective controlling a pass and then shooting.

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02-10-2010, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by TCNorthstars View Post
1. Realize that you are just playing for fun, not a career and you will be better.

2. You should have gotten on a "C" team instead of an "E" team. You get better by playing with better players, not equal or worse ones.
Well spoken.

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02-10-2010, 01:36 PM
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you mentioned how u had trouble beating players one on one, dont worry about the stickhandling, just come in with a lot of speed and put the puck on the net, then go to the net for a rebound (if there is one), worst thing that happens in the goalie freezes it and its a faceoff in their zone. You can even use the defenceman as a screen

if you really want to improve your one on one skills, take a golf ball, set up sum pylons, dumbbells, any object and practice stickhandling around them

i also like to lean a stick against a desk at a 45 degree angle to the ground (this way it kinda simulates a poke check by the d) and just stickhandle around and underneath the stick

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02-10-2010, 03:45 PM
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If you can afford it, don't be afraid to take lessons. I think they help d-men even more than forwards.

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02-10-2010, 08:44 PM
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You don't necessarily need a "training buddy" to work on your puckhandling skills.

You can work on head fakes by yourself. You can work on handling the puck itself on your own. You can move around with the puck by yourself. If you want to simulate a defender, get a chair and an old hockey stick.


Know that a defender has three holes: to his left between his outer skate and the extent of his reach, to his right between his outer skate and the extent of his reach, and between his legs. Beginners seem to always want to put the puck between a defender's skates. However, if you can push the puck to one side of a defender and drive around him on the other side, you'll have a deadly move that's hard for a defender to stop in a non-checking league.


These are just a few of the things you can master on your own.

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02-11-2010, 01:00 AM
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I would say playing in two leagues is a plus, but games are nothing compared to practicing. This guide is for coaching kids, but the numbers still stand true Hockey practice vs Hockey Game

You will learn a lot more practicing! As for what you need help with I will try to help

- Footspeed isn't great. OK top speed, poor acceleration.
- Take Full strides, dig your blades in, and make sure your feet are at about 45 degrees angle to get full traction, and push out, hard and fast. Practice stop and starts to really build your foot speed and acceleration
- Can't seem to onetime a fast pass if my life depended on it. This is just hand eye, it will come with time, the only way to nail this is with a friend feeding you fast passes
- Never seem to have the stamina to make that extra push to catch a player, despite really wanting to. Work on fitness, go really hard, quick shifts, this will build the proper systems in your body for quick recovery, and more stamina
- Really bad one-on-one. As a defenseman, can get beaten to the outside so easily. Have stuck to skating forward almost exclusively but even that isn't foolproof. For this one I would recommend your lateral movement, try skating backwards, and crossovers. Practice moving your shoulders, and your stick quickly from one side to the other as well.
- Offensively, I find it practically impossible to beat a guy one on one. I just get forced to the outside or have it tipped away. I feel so behind the guys who spent their whole childhoods deking guys out. Try coming in slow, then shifting gears and going as quick as you can. If you are coming in quick try to just chip the puck past the D, or you can always pass and then go hard to the net for a give and go. Through the legs is always an option, and even under the stick is a good deke. If you are going to go under the stick bring the puck far to the one side as if you are going to go around on that side, then slide it under the stick and go the other way. I have turned a lot of D inside out with this one, the one thing is you should try to move the puck straight from the one side to the other, if you cheat and do it on a bit of an angle the D has a better chance of catching the puck in his skates
- Can't seem to "create room" for myself. For example, if I was forced to the outside, I could slam on my brakes and stop, survey my options quickly and make a good pass, but I always feel like my checker is closing in on me and I need to get rid of it, then I dump it into the corner and hope for the best ,or put it past him into a small crowd where my teammate may or may not get it. Why does it seem they give the best players time to do these things? I never feel like I have time. The good players are really quick, so other players may be hesitant to go in and try to take the puck from them. Usually against a good player I will get him in the corner, then sort of wait and try to block the pass, or wait for him to make a move. With weaker players I will just skate in and knock the puck off of their stick and then go.
- Occasionally can rip an amazing slapshot (usually when it's passed to me fast or when I am skating fast) but more often than not, it's rather weak and I'd prefer not to use it. There is another thread on this called slapshot help, hop over there and check it out. I am also working on an article on how to improve your slapshot so I will post it here when I am done. In the mean time you could check out this one how to take a slapshot I wrote it about a week ago and even included some of the HFboard forum member tips

Hope that helps

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