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How to improve feel of the puck?

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Old
09-10-2010, 04:45 PM
  #1
Jimers
 
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How to improve feel of the puck?

Hi,

I'm 25 and just getting started with hockey (this year will be my second season).

As you all can imagine, I have lots of skills to sharpen and improve, but overall I feel my main issue right now is puck handling feel.

I skate very well for my level. My shot is pretty weak but that's something I can live with for now.

However, what I want to focus on most is my stick handling. I know I need to play with my head up, but right now if I try to do that, within 10-15 seconds, the puck is off my blade. I've tried working on it at home, just tapping the puck back and forth for hours but I don't see much improvement. I've looked at all the videos and guides online, making sure I use the wrists and hands, not shoulders/arms, and that it's mostly the top hand but it still seems like I have to concentrate too much (and I handle relatively slowly compared to experienced handlers).

I'm looking for any advice you guys can share with me, things to focus on, ways to practice for better results, etc.

Thanks in advance!
Jim

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09-10-2010, 05:07 PM
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Jarick
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What seemed to help me was stickhandling with a Smart Hockey ball while watching TV. Keep the head up and dribble back and forth. Eventually you get the hang of it.

Also, you don't have to always be dribbling the puck in the game. Only stickhandle when necessary...otherwise no harm in just bringing the puck with you on your forehand.

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09-10-2010, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
What seemed to help me was stickhandling with a Smart Hockey ball while watching TV. Keep the head up and dribble back and forth. Eventually you get the hang of it.
My problem is that at home things tend to work, but on the ice it's a different story.

Toe drags is a good example for me. I can do them okay on a carpet (or smooth/tiled surface) with a FlyPuck, but on the ice I have a lot of trouble grabbing the puck with the toe.

I also can keep the puck tighter on my blade at home than on ice.

I wonder if my practice at home is even hurting my ice play since I'm used to the friction from non-ice surfaces.

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09-10-2010, 11:53 PM
  #4
budster
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As Jarick mentioned, the Smart Hockey ball works pretty good. You might try the Green Biscuit on HDPE plastic for a more ice-like feel. If you're cheap you can buy one of those wooden balls (about the size of a racquetball) at a craft store. Either way the more you practice the better you'll get.
-------------------
Green Biscuit review | Smart Hockey Ball review

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09-11-2010, 02:34 AM
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WhooFleuryScores
 
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Prob just need to practice on ice as much as possible.

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09-11-2010, 05:36 AM
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Razzmatazz
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Thrifty whiteboard ftw


$11.87 at Lowes, have them cut it in half if you can't get the whole 8x4 board home, spray on some silicone spray, wipe it down, and let it settle for a few minutes...and stickhandle away


Last edited by Razzmatazz: 09-11-2010 at 05:44 AM.
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Old
09-11-2010, 08:29 AM
  #7
DevilsFan38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Razzmatazz View Post
Thrifty whiteboard ftw


$11.87 at Lowes, have them cut it in half if you can't get the whole 8x4 board home, spray on some silicone spray, wipe it down, and let it settle for a few minutes...and stickhandle away
These things really do a great job of simulating on ice feel, once you spray it with silicone spray you can use a regular hockey puck on it.

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09-11-2010, 08:57 AM
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Thanks for the advice guys. I actually have very slick flooring (almost like glass). After polish the puck slides pretty well but what I'm looking for here is some tips on technique. If I'm going to practice, I figure I should focus on proper by-the-book way so I don't waste time building bad habits.

For instnace, I've heard a lot of people say to handle in the middle of the blade, but some say they like to handle at the heel and when I tried it, I felt like instantly my handling became tighter and a littler faster. Although it still comes off my blade in under 30 seconds, it felt better (at least while I wasn't moving) and I'm wondering if I should continue to do that or if that's bad.

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09-11-2010, 01:40 PM
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EmptyNetter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimers View Post
My problem is that at home things tend to work, but on the ice it's a different story.

Toe drags is a good example for me. I can do them okay on a carpet (or smooth/tiled surface) with a FlyPuck, but on the ice I have a lot of trouble grabbing the puck with the toe.

I also can keep the puck tighter on my blade at home than on ice.

I wonder if my practice at home is even hurting my ice play since I'm used to the friction from non-ice surfaces.
I've had the same problems. One thing to remember, though. There's a big difference between doing these moves in sneakers and repeating those moves on ice while wearing skates. On skates you have to stay balanced while executing these moves. It's very possible that your eyes are even helping you balance (keeping the horizon line level) so your focus will be split between keeping the puck in control and staying on your feet.

Try to make your practice situation as close to an on-ice experience as possible. If you have a pair of roller blades wear them while you practice stick handling. Also, make sure you practice moving with the puck. If you practice with your feet planted you won't be prepared to have the puck follow you as you skate with it. Many's the time I've lost the puck off my stick and overskated it because I'm not used to bringing it with me, only standing in one place with it.

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09-11-2010, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimers View Post
Hi,

I'm 25 and just getting started with hockey (this year will be my second season).

As you all can imagine, I have lots of skills to sharpen and improve, but overall I feel my main issue right now is puck handling feel.

I skate very well for my level. My shot is pretty weak but that's something I can live with for now.

However, what I want to focus on most is my stick handling. I know I need to play with my head up, but right now if I try to do that, within 10-15 seconds, the puck is off my blade. I've tried working on it at home, just tapping the puck back and forth for hours but I don't see much improvement. I've looked at all the videos and guides online, making sure I use the wrists and hands, not shoulders/arms, and that it's mostly the top hand but it still seems like I have to concentrate too much (and I handle relatively slowly compared to experienced handlers).

I'm looking for any advice you guys can share with me, things to focus on, ways to practice for better results, etc.

Thanks in advance!
Jim

Are you using your peripheral vision to somewhat see the puck?...or are you doing a drill where you can't, or can barely see it at all?

In case 2, 10-15 seconds is not bad, or even good, depending on the speed and technical difficulty of your drill

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09-11-2010, 04:32 PM
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If you have just started playing then hockey stickhandling with your head up is probably too much too soon. I'd concentrate on just the stickhandling for now.

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09-11-2010, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crosbyfan View Post
Are you using your peripheral vision to somewhat see the puck?...or are you doing a drill where you can't, or can barely see it at all?

In case 2, 10-15 seconds is not bad, or even good, depending on the speed and technical difficulty of your drill
I'm not talking about deking and dangling the puck around, just tapping it tightly with as little puck movement as possible. And whether I'm using my peripheral vision or looking straight at the puck, I just lose my cadence. I may not "lose" the puck completely, but I can't keep a consistent rhythm.

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09-11-2010, 06:12 PM
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rye&ginger
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Toss down some cans of food or other obstacles to stick handle around. Just going back and forth with no stimulus is probably not going to help you progress.

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09-11-2010, 06:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rye&ginger View Post
Toss down some cans of food or other obstacles to stick handle around. Just going back and forth with no stimulus is probably not going to help you progress.
Was gonna say this too.

Also if your having trouble doing it on ice, it may be the adjustment height of the skates compared to in your bare feet... if you have skate guards, chuck on your skates and do the drills.

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09-11-2010, 06:34 PM
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RobertKron
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Move around, move your feet, bring the puck in close, move it out to the edge of your reach, etc. etc. etc. The only thing that makes it easier is doing it more and doing it in all kinds of scenarios.

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09-11-2010, 07:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Please View Post
Was gonna say this too.

Also if your having trouble doing it on ice, it may be the adjustment height of the skates compared to in your bare feet... if you have skate guards, chuck on your skates and do the drills.
That's almost certainly it. With the height difference, your stick is going to feel a good bit longer then it will on skates, and that's going to throw things off.

Best drill you can do is on ice, have somebody flash up different numbers of fingers while you stickhandle. You call out how many there are, forcing you to look up, and you get a feel for the puck just stickhandling back and forth.

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09-11-2010, 11:57 PM
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A wood stick can do wonders for beginners. If you are using one already, trying using a green biscuit.

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09-12-2010, 12:08 AM
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Old
09-15-2010, 12:27 PM
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimers View Post
I'm not talking about deking and dangling the puck around, just tapping it tightly with as little puck movement as possible. And whether I'm using my peripheral vision or looking straight at the puck, I just lose my cadence. I may not "lose" the puck completely, but I can't keep a consistent rhythm.
I found this video pretty helpful last year:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DycV8UE5Ua0

I don't think it's important to try to be as fast as the guys in the video, or to get "as little puck movement as possible." Concentrate more on the range of movement, rather than how fast you can do it, as I think being able to move the puck to different areas is much more valuable than being able to 'dribble' it quickly/tightly.

This video also has a few good ideas:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOVOuF4_klU

And here's an Yzerman video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyQ0F1wXusg

You can see that being able to move the puck large distances was more important than being able to quickly 'dribble' the puck. Also, when he doesn't need to protect the puck, he just pushes it (why complicate things if you're in the clear).

Hope some of this helps : )

EDIT:
Also, if you are right-handed and shoot right (or are left-handed & a left-shooter), then a surprising bit of information I came across in some video last year is that the upper hand (left hand for me) is actually really important in stickhandling. Don't do it all with your lower hand. Use the upper hand to turn the stick over to cup the puck better. Do some one-handed drills to build up strength in that upper hand if it's not your dominant hand.


Last edited by smozoma: 09-15-2010 at 02:17 PM.
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Old
09-16-2010, 04:27 AM
  #20
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Keeping your head up doesn't mean that you never track the puck. You should still track it every now and then but just peripherally. If you do have to look down at your puck, just be smart of when you look down by using your self-awareness. That comes with hockey experience. For me, in-game: I try to play heads up while tracking the puck peripherally, and when I do look down at the puck, I alternate by tracking my surrounding players peripherally.

Also, practicing it stationary is your problem. You have to practice it on-the-move because for me, the forward motion when I stickhandle does a lot of keeping the puck in my blade.

About the feel of the puck, it could depend on your stick. I prefer really lightweight sticks with only 1 layer of taping on the blade. Of course, it could be just in my head that the lighter the stick is, the more you feel the puck on stickhandle and pass-receiving.

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09-16-2010, 06:49 AM
  #21
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im in the same boat, and i also thought that there is some miracle-drill which will make me catch up to players playing since decades. feel comes after 100s of hours of practice. even nhl players look down from time to time.

it will not happen in 1 year. well it can, if you practice-practice-practice.

in my experience it really adds up on your abilities, no matter what you do with the stick as what you have to improve is your hand-eye coordination. i played roller hockey in the summer, and to my surprise i improved with the puck too, although i thought it will mess me up. so what you really need is just having that stick in your hand and stickhandle in all kinds of situations.

Jarick suggested the smart ball, and i can recommend it too. it moves fast, and about the same weight as the puck, also it helped me to rely more on the wrist movement of my top hand. the green bisquit is also a great tool, and it works even on pavement.

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