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Tips for Beginners

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Old
10-04-2010, 05:28 PM
  #1
pass the bisk
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Tips for Beginners

There has been a bunch of threads about people new to hockey and them looking for some help, so here is my thread on some easy things beginners can do to greatly improve their game:

1. SKATE. You can be the worst stick handler in the world and have no shot whatsoever, but if you can skate, that won't matter as much. Plus, skating will supplement your game better than anything else possibly can. Work on perfecting the stride and stopping first, then move to crossovers, then backwards skating, backwards crossovers, mohawks, etc

2. Choosing a stick: If you're new to hockey, you don't need a 100 flex stick with a Sakic curve. Because you will not have developed the proper technique yet, you don't need a lot of flex. My advice is for anybody under 160 pounds to use 65-77 flex, 215 and under to use 85 and anybody else use 100. When it comes to curves, do not use a big one. Big curves give beginners a false sense of ability and because using a huge curve (lets pick on the sakic one) makes it so much easier to lift the puck, you do not build muscle as easily as you would with a Zetterberg/Malkin one. Also, you will probably be shooting low with those curves anyway, which is good because you create more scoring chances. It also makes passing easier IMO.

3. Don't worry about strength! Gaining strength will do nothing if you do not have technique. You can have ripped forearms, a core, and huge arms, but that won't do anything for your shot if you're a beginner. First work on shooting. 100 shots a day will do wonders for you. It only takes about 30 minutes to do too! Really the only thing that could I could recommend would be to get a shooting pad and work on pulling the puck towards your body.

4. Stick handling. Once you gain some basic skills, you can start working on the dangles. I have found that you should NEVER EVER EVER USE A BALL!!!!! I swear using a street hockey ball makes you worse at hockey. They are light so you don't develop any strength and they are larger than a puck so when you switch to the real thing you are always going over it and missing. Plus, you aren't used to the weight either. Also, try to move around when you are stick handling because I mean how often are you stationary during a game right?

Well that's about all I could come up with in ten minutes lol. Feel free to add suggestions.


Last edited by Jarick: 06-07-2013 at 11:51 AM.
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10-04-2010, 06:14 PM
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FiveAndAGame
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I think for beginners, attitude/mindset is another thing that is very important.

1. You should never get down on yourself because someone else is better than you, or because you can't do something. I used to do this to myself when I first started playing. If I couldn't put my wrist shot where I wanted, I would slam my stick and get off the rink, and it hurt my development. Instead, I should have gone to a stick and puck and worked on my problem instead of getting angry. If you can't do something, it just means you need to practice.

2). If anyone ever gives you **** for not being an all-star at an open skate or something, just blow him off. No one starts out as a great player. It takes all sorts of hard work, and everyone has to start somewhere. And unfortunately, you will find a decent number of people who think everyone needs to play at an NHL level. He's a jerk. Don't ever be "that guy".

3). Be willing to take advice/criticism, and ask for it if you need it! I have never once seen someone get mad because someone asked a question while playing hockey. Especially as a newer player, more experienced players will (generally) be willing to help you out as best they can.

4. Put in effort! I can't tell you how many times I've seen novice players at open skates NOT TRY. Granted they may not have a complete skill set or be the most talented guy, but that is NOT an excuse to sit at the far blue line and call for passes non-stop. Effort gets rewarded.

Keep your head up, and have fun with it.

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10-04-2010, 06:41 PM
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beth
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Keep 'em coming! I am taking notes.

I've been practicing skating for a couple of months now. Finally at the point now where I'm pretty comfortable backwards, but not quite as fast as forwards (I'm getting there, though!) Almost have the backwards crossovers down, working on mohawks and stops still. I brought my stick last time I went, and was amazed at how much easier turning front to back was when you are focused on a puck. Now I just gotta get faster. I skate twice a week and then usually go my gym to do zumba (because it's fun) or a core class 2-3 times a week too.

When I bought my stick, it was before I knew I wanted to play myself - I'd just bought a cheap stick to do stick-and-puck with my son. Now I'd like to get a different one. So if anyone has any recommendations for a 5'5", 118lb person, please tell me! The one I have now I just picked randomly and is an Easton senior wood stick (cut) with a 5.5 lie zetterberg. I kind of feel like the puck is far away from me.

I got one of those smart hockey balls - what about those?

Now I just need someone to teach me how to shoot without falling down. That's the next thing that I'll be working on.

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10-04-2010, 07:06 PM
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Agreed that skating is BY FAR the most important thing for a beginner. After skating ability I'd emphasize cardio, if you get too tired you're basically useless, if you can skate decently and play a fairly high energy game you're gonna be useful on the fore check and playing hard on d regardless of where your other skills are at.

For skating make sure to constantly work on whatever you're worst at, not what you're best at, you wanna get to the point where left and right crossovers both forwards and backwards (and of course stopping both left and right) feel really natural. For skating fast make sure to sort of flick your toe at the end of each stride, you'll go significantly faster. And of course just work on a long, powerful stride, in a nice and low, knees bent athletic stance.

For getting hockey-useful cardio I find tonnes and tonnes of suicides to work best, on ice suicides are good, but often you wanna use ice time for skills, so off ice suicides work fine too.

Last but not least, learn some basic positional play, especially where you should be on defense. If you're a beginner your team will probably put you on the wing (nothing against wingers, I play RW myself, but a new player will be less of a liability on the wing than on D or at C), your primary defensive responsibility is to cover the point (prevent point shots, and get the puck out whenever it comes up the boards), pinch only when you see a guy wide open in a dangerous spot down low. If you're breaking out and the dman has the puck behind the net in your own end, make sure to stay close to him so he has an easy pass. In the offensive zone go to the net to screen the goalie/chip in garbage goals, or hang out a bit further for one-timers if you have a decent shot.

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10-04-2010, 08:15 PM
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jlnjcb
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If not a street hockey ball, what should I use for off-ice stick handling practice? Any tips?

And what about roller blading - does this help or hinder?

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10-04-2010, 08:40 PM
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pass the bisk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlnjcb View Post
If not a street hockey ball, what should I use for off-ice stick handling practice? Any tips?

And what about roller blading - does this help or hinder?

Go with a street hockey puck.

Depends. If you have time to get out to a rink and skate then don't worry about roller blading. If you don't, well, any skating is better than no skating. The thing to remember though is that on roller blades, the edge is about 5 times bigger and you can't stop.

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10-04-2010, 09:07 PM
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I see generally good advice thus far, but there are a couple things that have been neglected. 1) Work on passing! Besides skating, nothing will help improve your game faster than passing well. This includes receiving both forehand and backhand passes. A good drill for this is to attend a stick time session and go with a friend or teammate, if possible. The two of you should work on skating parallel to each other, around 15 feet apart. Practice passing back and forth while skating at a comfortable speed. Not top speed but not coasting either.

2) Don't worry about a slapshot until you've played for a bit. It's arguably the most overestimated shot in hockey. Guys like to take them and say "Look how big my &^*$ is" but in game, they're really only useful to defenseman.

3) Work on the wrist, snap and backhand a lot off ice. This includes shooting without a puck just to get the motion down. Try to work on proper technique, do NOT worry about your velocity. Accuracy and release count more anyway.

4) Cardio is a good idea too. If you can jog for a half an hour without stopping for more than 5 total minutes, you're in fine hockey cardio shape.

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10-04-2010, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlnjcb View Post
If not a street hockey ball, what should I use for off-ice stick handling practice? Any tips?
A liquid-filled hockey ball is fine, but for you could try the Green Biscuit or Smart Hockey training ball. Another option are those wood training balls but you can save money if you just go to a craft store and buy a wooden ball just like it (the kind used for a doll head). They are about the size of a racquetball.

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And what about roller blading - does this help or hinder?
I say it helps. This article originally published here was featured on USA Hockey Inline and covers that topic.

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10-05-2010, 01:25 AM
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Copeland
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Awesome. Great tips all in one thread!

A question, though. You say we shouldn't use a ball to practice shooting, stickhandling, etc. But what if we're currently learning to play ball hockey and will eventually, a looooong while down the road (read: when I can actually skate well enough), switch to ice hockey? Should we practice with a puck even in that case? Or use the ball?

Or use both...?

Beth - wow I've been skating for two months twice a week, as well, and all I can do is go forwards and sort of skid-stop... have to say I'm getting a case of FiveAndaGame's No.1 rule up there...


Last edited by Copeland: 10-05-2010 at 01:36 AM.
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10-05-2010, 01:32 AM
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A puck weighs about 3x more than a ball and is a lot harder to stick handle so using a puck will benefit you a lot more. You will have a harder shot and better handles by doing so. Plus, it is a lot easier to switch from a puck to a ball then vice versa.

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10-05-2010, 01:47 AM
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Copeland
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pass the bisk - good logic, thanks

Gotta go get myself a puck tomorrow then

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10-05-2010, 01:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlnjcb View Post
If not a street hockey ball, what should I use for off-ice stick handling practice?
a ball is not bad to practice with, as most beginners first have to learn to use their stick. most of it is eye-hand coordination, and if you practice 2 hrs a day with a ball it will improve your feel for your STICK.

now if you want to be a good dangler you need to get a puck to practice with. a green bisquit works everywhere, i use it at home and even on tarmac and it slides just fine.

and don't forget to elevate yourself about 2" as you'll be wearing skates on the ice.

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10-05-2010, 02:19 AM
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ponder
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4) Cardio is a good idea too. If you can jog for a half an hour without stopping for more than 5 total minutes, you're in fine hockey cardio shape.
Gotta disagree with this one, I can jog at a decent pace for over an hour without stopping and am still totally gassed before the end of a hockey game. I am a forward who loves to fore-check though, and in beer league play we're lucky to get 3 lines and generally have more like 2, so that doesn't help. But needing to stop for 5 mins total on a 30 min run means you're in pretty bad shape IMO, I have to think a person in that kind of shape would be basically useless by the end of the game if they've been skating hard.

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10-05-2010, 08:52 AM
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budster
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But needing to stop for 5 mins total on a 30 min run means you're in pretty bad shape IMO, I have to think a person in that kind of shape would be basically useless by the end of the game if they've been skating hard.
Also jogging is an aerobic activity and hockey is an anaerobic sport. A better measure of physical fitness would be wind sprints.

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10-05-2010, 09:12 AM
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Jarick
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For a beginner, don't worry about getting better, just play as much hockey as possible and have fun. There's so much misinformation not only in this thread but everywhere else that I'd just go out and buy a book or a video and learn from that.

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10-05-2010, 10:22 AM
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beth
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Beth - wow I've been skating for two months twice a week, as well, and all I can do is go forwards and sort of skid-stop... have to say I'm getting a case of FiveAndaGame's No.1 rule up there...
I think as long as you're slowly seeing progress, it's all good! I try to pick one thing to work on everytime I skate, and I also force myself to spend about half the time I'm there going backwards. I never thought I would be comfortable backwards, I was always so afraid of falling on my butt, but I just made myself do it and then one day I realized I wasn't thinking about it anymore.

Also, don't just go around in laps, use the dots and circles and zig zag around or do figure 8's so that you're turning both ways.

I wear elbows, knees, helmet and wristguards, so that I don't have to worry so much about falling. It allows me to push myself beyond my comfort zone.

I will agree with those who are saying that being in shape for hockey is different. I considered myself in pretty good shape until I went to a "Try Hockey Free" event, and by the end of it I thought that I was going to either pass out or puke on the ice. I was still smiling the whole time, though!

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10-05-2010, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
For a beginner, don't worry about getting better, just play as much hockey as possible and have fun. There's so much misinformation not only in this thread but everywhere else that I'd just go out and buy a book or a video and learn from that.
and you base that off of what credentials???

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10-05-2010, 10:42 AM
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beth
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I think it's interesting to hear the different perspectives/opinions. Jarick, what do you consider misinformation and why?

Thanks to all who want to help noobs like me out.

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10-05-2010, 11:47 AM
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Two tips from me:

1. Skating - keep your hips low throughout your stride, and also when turning, crossing over, stopping, and just about everything else. You want your energy to be put into motion, and bobbing up and down is a very common (and huge) energy leak. I like to think of hips low, because it helps you not bend over too much at the waist. Just get into "hockey" position and then lower everything a bit more. Try skating towards the glass, looking at yourself in the reflection. This can help you determine whether you're bobbing up and down or not - try to keep everything level in your vision. Or ask a friend to watch you, of course. Or even a stranger. Don't be shy!

2. Passing - from the very beginning, try to find someone who will challenge you with hard passes. This is a skill that is completely separate from other skills, so there's no reason you can't work on it from day one if you want. I know a lot of people who have started out as adult beginners and are not bad skaters now, but their passing is still very weak, and I think it's simply because they haven't practiced sending and receiving hard passes. Cushion the puck both when sending it and receiving it (think of it as an egg you don't' want to crack - fling it and catch it instead of smacking it). If you put a little time every session into sending and receiving hard passes, this part of your game will develop steadily regardless of any other difficulties, and you'll be a much more effective teammate no matter what else is going on.

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10-05-2010, 11:55 AM
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Well the idea you shouldn't stickhandle with a ball for one. Think Crosby avoided playing street hockey because it might mess up his stickhandling? Doubt it. Or picking a hockey stick based off your weight with no regard to height or stick length. Or taking up some kind of off-ice training program (remember...it's beginners, not people trying to make the travel team).

If I were to pick four skills essential for hockey, it'd be skating, puck handling, passing, and shooting. You want to work on those. The best way to work is to just play as much as possible. Get a Smart Hockey ball and stickhandle on a tennis court. Bounce a tennis ball off the garage door in your driveway. Get a bucket of pucks and shoot at a net, or a tarp, or a board.

Mainly, just play and have fun and don't worry about the details!

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10-05-2010, 01:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
Well the idea you shouldn't stickhandle with a ball for one. Think Crosby avoided playing street hockey because it might mess up his stickhandling? Doubt it. Or picking a hockey stick based off your weight with no regard to height or stick length. Or taking up some kind of off-ice training program (remember...it's beginners, not people trying to make the travel team).

If I were to pick four skills essential for hockey, it'd be skating, puck handling, passing, and shooting. You want to work on those. The best way to work is to just play as much as possible. Get a Smart Hockey ball and stickhandle on a tennis court. Bounce a tennis ball off the garage door in your driveway. Get a bucket of pucks and shoot at a net, or a tarp, or a board.

Mainly, just play and have fun and don't worry about the details!
Sidney Crosby also played hockey every single day of his life and shot hundreds of pucks. Most beginners will not do that.

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10-05-2010, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlnjcb View Post
If not a street hockey ball, what should I use for off-ice stick handling practice? Any tips?

And what about roller blading - does this help or hinder?
I use a Hockey ball but I'm about to pick up a green Biscuit they look Awesome. By the way thanks for the review Jeremy

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Originally Posted by pass the bisk View Post
Go with a street hockey puck.

Depends. If you have time to get out to a rink and skate then don't worry about roller blading. If you don't, well, any skating is better than no skating. The thing to remember though is that on roller blades, the edge is about 5 times bigger and you can't stop.
Yeah i've been playing inline hockey for about 5 months now and am just now getting the stop it's hard to learn but not impossible but very difficult with inlines because you realley don't have that friction and can't really dig in.

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10-05-2010, 03:44 PM
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My advice is to keep motivated and practice practice practice. I 've been playing for 5 or 6 months now and i'm just now gettin my shooting down Slapshot, Wrister, and snapper. I'm usually a really quick learner and I'm a pretty good skater but at first I was a little discouraged for some reason i think i should just come in and we ablr to do everything didn't and doesn't happen that why. just practice and be patient

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10-05-2010, 03:53 PM
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I have a green biscuit and it's kind of worthless IMO. Doesn't slide like a puck on any surface.

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10-05-2010, 04:17 PM
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It's all about looks. Get a sweet tinted visor, get some nice white skates (tongues out), get some flashy gloves (white preferably) and really work on your toe drags. The rest will take care of itself.

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