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How to be 'strong on the puck'

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Old
04-04-2011, 01:45 PM
  #1
GoTeamDom
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How to be 'strong on the puck'

Hi folks,

Background of my abilities: I am a 25 yr old beginner player, started playing about 1.5 yrs ago and aside from 3 or 4 power skating camps have not had any formal skating training. I'm a decent skater for my level, which is admittedly low level

One glaring weakness in my game I am finding is that I am not strong on the puck. That is, the slightest brush on my stick will cause the puck to roll away from me, and I have trouble finding a good balance on my skates to anchor myself against physical contact, such as a puck battle along the boards for example. Playing other sports (basketball, even roller/floor hockey) I find that I have excellent balance and can stand up to the rigors of physical contact. Case in point, I am basically immovable in a mosh pit despite being 5'10, 175lbs. It may be worth noting that I have very wide, flat feet, which probably aids to my balance in shoes.

You always here about hockey players being 'strong on the puck.' How does one learn how to do this? Hockey more or less is about puck possession, and if I keep losing the puck before getting to scoring areas, I'm pretty much useless. Are there any sort of 'anchoring' techniques I can use so I don't go flying when standing in front of the net or to be able to withstand a weak one handed stick check?

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04-04-2011, 04:06 PM
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Being 'strong' on the puck is a combination of many things, but the most important is having a low center of gravity. Having great balance makes it harder for someone to brush you off the puck, no matter how hard you get hit. Bend your knees, keep as low of a center of gravity as possible, and plant your stick firmly on the ice. This helps especially when scrumming in the boards for a puck. As far as stick handling goes, it's all about timing and anticipating what a defender will do. Always try and keep your body between the puck and an opponent, and the puck close to your feet. It's hard to describe without *showing*, but the longer you play the more naturally this will all come. If you are comfortable, keep your head up when you have the puck, or at least try and sense in your peripherals where a defender's stick is.

For example, if you're right handed and you have a defender on your left, don't let the puck get ahead of you. Instead, control it on your right side (furthest away from the defender), almost parallel to your shoulders. It's common sense stuff, but you'd be surprised at how many people forget. If you can, don't be afraid of taking a hand off the stick when you're cutting in to smack an opponent's stick away too, it helps.

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04-04-2011, 04:31 PM
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As far as your balance issues, next time you find yourself on the ice with a good hockey player, have them critique your stance. Or get some video of yourself so that you can see yourself skate. You probably just need to bend your knees a lot more than you realize. That will get easier as your core and legs get stronger.

For the puck battles along the boards, put both hands (with your stick) on the boards, get in between the other guy and the puck and push him away with your body, and kick the puck out with your feet.

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04-04-2011, 04:51 PM
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cptjeff
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Wide skating stance. Skate with a lot of power down low, and use your body to protect the puck. If you're in a position where your stick can be whacked with anything more then a glancing blow, your positioning is wrong.

Also, from the description of your skating, sounds like you need somebody to train your stance. It's a huge issue for a lot of people learning to skate, and unless you get the stance right, you will flat out never be able to skate well. Get yourself a lesson from a good skater. Doesn't have to be something formal or paid, just get a good skater to set you right.

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04-05-2011, 09:10 AM
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Jarick
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You know what's funny, I'm immovable on the ice at 5'8 180 but was in a mosh pit last week and was getting tossed around like a rag doll.

Keep the legs wide, dig in with your inside edges, bend your knees, and get a good balance (don't lean too far forward). You'll be a rock out there.

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04-05-2011, 11:45 AM
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GoTeamDom
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Thanks for the tips, ladies and gents.

Sounds like the main culprit is probably me not bending my knees. I don't know why that surprised me because I'm a really lazy snowboarder so it figures to translate to hockey as well.

And Jarick, mosh pit tip: sometimes it's best to know when to absorb impact and when to just ride the wave. Stay aware of where other people's elbows are so you get smooshed up against someone's back as opposed to their elbows. And for god's sake, if someone is falling down, help them up!

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04-10-2011, 09:54 AM
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I often find myself getting too upright after playing for a while, and I think that is mainly in conditioning.

As mentioned above, work on getting lower so you have more power in your legs and a lower center of gravity. Also work on getting angles on your defenders and keeping the puck closer/beside you instead of in front of you (i.e. coming down the wing)

Having good control on your edges helps too, so you have more confidence to put moves on people and angle people out without falling on your ass. Once you get more confident skating, you'll be able to focus more on being "strong on the puck" and not about your skating.

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04-10-2011, 10:37 AM
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Marotte Marauder
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More knee bend and more edge control as the others have suggested. Knee bend will be EZ if you have leg strength, if not, build up your legs.

Edge work will likely require some guidance from a superior skater.

Good luck!

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04-10-2011, 01:42 PM
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Trojan35
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Got a really good tip from a russian minor league hockey coach the other day. I need to use it:

When the defender is "inside" of your turn, get both edges into it so if they push you you don't fall over. However, that means if the defender is on the outside of your turn (say, if you're curling to the slot and the defender is between you and the goal) you have to stay on both inside edges or you'll just fall over when bumped. It also allows you to shoot without changing your footing position if you're traveling laterally.

On the stick aspect, if you're on your backhand you need to have your stick somewhat to the side and in close to you but with the top hand away from he body--basically, don't have your stick directly in front of you (which is what I was doing). This not only shields the puck, but allows alot more mobility and ability to pick up the puck, catch passes, and soften stick-checks.... and it also keeps the puck in a better shooting position for a backhand.

It's pretty obvious, but not something I consciously had thought of before. I'm hoping to use it going forward but need a lot more practice. Still, just starting to do the right things has given me a little more strength on the puck.

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04-12-2011, 06:58 PM
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Good drill to work on this is to play one on one keep away. It will force you to work on protecting the puck and using your body to shield it in open ice and then do it along the boards to work on it in those situations.

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06-20-2011, 11:32 AM
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06-20-2011, 12:00 PM
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The Tikkanen
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Do a lot of hockey players take power skating classes? I'm 38, I've been playing for 18 years, I always wondered if I took a couple of classes would my skating get better or am I set in stone after playing hockey all these years? I would think if you're weak on the puck playing pickup, working out for hockey and taking power skating classes would be a good combination. Thoughts?

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06-20-2011, 12:17 PM
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Power skating will always help.

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06-20-2011, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoTeamDom View Post
Hi folks,


One glaring weakness in my game I am finding is that I am not strong on the puck. That is, the slightest brush on my stick will cause the puck to roll away from me
Why is the defender able to hit your stick? You need to shield the puck with your body.

Perfect example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJPjVZjjIt0

Key 1 is that Crosby always has his body to between the puck and the defender. Key 2 is that he is always moving so that he can keep himself between the puck and the defender.

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06-20-2011, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tikkanen View Post
Do a lot of hockey players take power skating classes? I'm 38, I've been playing for 18 years, I always wondered if I took a couple of classes would my skating get better or am I set in stone after playing hockey all these years?
I've been skating since I was two, but I learned a lot from power skating classes in my '30's.

Some classes are better than others, though. I took some that had instructors who were just about guys charging around as fast as they could. And by the end of the 8 week session some guys were still having to slam into the boards to stop. Which is fine for fitness, but notsomuch for becoming a better skater.

Others, that I found much more valuable, were about working on edges and skating technique.

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06-20-2011, 11:23 PM
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get good with your feet (very under-rated)...if you get good with your feet and have good balance you can use your feet to protect the puck

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06-20-2011, 11:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tikkanen View Post
Do a lot of hockey players take power skating classes? I'm 38, I've been playing for 18 years, I always wondered if I took a couple of classes would my skating get better or am I set in stone after playing hockey all these years? I would think if you're weak on the puck playing pickup, working out for hockey and taking power skating classes would be a good combination. Thoughts?
A powerskating class will usually help. It forces you to practice things you normally wouldn't practice through various drills, and if you have *good* instructors you'll get feedback on what you're doing right or wrong.

At a minimum, picking up a copy of Laura Stamm's Powerskating book might help you out a fair bit.

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06-21-2011, 09:13 AM
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tarheelhockey
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As a beginner, I find it tough to defend a guy who knows when to hold my stick and get away with it. The better corner players I've played against (who torched me) could control the puck with one hand and deftly lift my stick-check away without much fanfare.

It's illegal and all, but hey... this ain't the NHL!

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06-21-2011, 11:04 AM
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SenzZen
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The thing the best stickhandlers do is NOT have their stick on the puck. If your stick is on the puck all someone has to do is tap your stick in order to make you lose the puck.

Only touch the puck when you need to move it from one side of your body to the other, or when you're pushing it up-ice.

Apart from that, you need to lower your center of gravity as best you can, and "box out" your opponent as though you're rebounding in basketball. Do this, and when he reaches in with his stick, you can lift it and push the puck to the side of your body he isn't on.

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06-21-2011, 02:07 PM
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06-23-2011, 12:33 PM
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06-28-2011, 10:40 AM
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06-28-2011, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SenzZen View Post
The thing the best stickhandlers do is NOT have their stick on the puck. If your stick is on the puck all someone has to do is tap your stick in order to make you lose the puck.

Only touch the puck when you need to move it from one side of your body to the other, or when you're pushing it up-ice.

Apart from that, you need to lower your center of gravity as best you can, and "box out" your opponent as though you're rebounding in basketball. Do this, and when he reaches in with his stick, you can lift it and push the puck to the side of your body he isn't on.
Not sure I agree with this statement at all. Center of gravity, sure, but maintaining control of the puck and spending time stickhandling around players in an ingame situation is how to become stronger on the puck. Experience, physically, weight management and timing all play a part. I would suggest doing one on one drills where one player keeps the puck away from the other in a small designated area. Will help with experience, weight management and timing.

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06-29-2011, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SenzZen View Post
The thing the best stickhandlers do is NOT have their stick on the puck. If your stick is on the puck all someone has to do is tap your stick in order to make you lose the puck.

Only touch the puck when you need to move it from one side of your body to the other, or when you're pushing it up-ice.

Apart from that, you need to lower your center of gravity as best you can, and "box out" your opponent as though you're rebounding in basketball. Do this, and when he reaches in with his stick, you can lift it and push the puck to the side of your body he isn't on.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LyNX27 View Post
Not sure I agree with this statement at all. Center of gravity, sure, but maintaining control of the puck and spending time stickhandling around players in an ingame situation is how to become stronger on the puck. Experience, physically, weight management and timing all play a part. I would suggest doing one on one drills where one player keeps the puck away from the other in a small designated area. Will help with experience, weight management and timing.
Just a quick comment on this exchange:

I think SenzZen's advice is good but it only applies to certain situations. For example, protecting the puck along the boards while you're at a stand still. If you're facing the boards with your back to your opponent, you can use your body to shield the puck or "box him out" while you look around to decide your next move. Your stick can still be used to shield the puck as well, but it doesn't necessarily need to be on the puck. I think that's what he's talking about and I do agree that it's very effective.

If you're stickhandling while skating, you of course will need to have control of the puck. In that case, "being strong" is how you describe it, LyNX27: centre of gravity, balance, stickhandling skills, etc.

So, basically, you're both right. Both are effective ways to be strong on the puck, they just apply to different scenarios within a game.

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