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A few tips for new/beginner forwards

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06-03-2014, 09:03 AM
  #1
nystromshairstylist
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A few tips for new/beginner forwards

I posted this in another thread, but it wasn't what the OP was looking for, and have seen a few posters asking for advice as newbie so I just started a new thread for beginner forwards:

The 3 best pieces of advice I can give as a former beginner who is now one of the better players in the lower level beer leagues I'm in:

1) work intensely on your skating in public skates and stickhandling at stick n pucks...put in the time with structured drills you see on youtube and choose 2 or 3 to focus on every time you go to S-n-P. If you work on your skating a lot, and that includes cross-overs, backwards, stopping easily/comfortably both sides, and achieving smooth transitions - that alone will put you ahead of the vast majority of players in the lower tiers of men's league.

2) skate to the puck and with the puck with your eyes NOT on the puck, but surveying what is going on around you. When someone passes to you, look down for a fraction of a second so you can see how the puck is coming towards you (bouncing, use your leg, smooth along the ice, saucered several inches off the ground, etc.) so you can position your stick and body best to catch the puck, and then look up so that once you catch it you know from which direction the attacking forwards are coming at you from, and you can deke them out/skate away from them to give yourself some space. Offense in hockey is two things, puck control, and trying to get yourself as much space to work with as possible (to make a pass, clean shot on net, etc.).

Once you have the puck, DO NOT look down at it. If you want to be an effective forward, LOOK UP to see what the opposing team is doing and where they are positioned. This is THE most important thing you can do on the ice, IMO.

If your head is up, all you need to do is see which way the d-man is leaning, once you fake left/right, they'll get off balance, you hustle the other way, and you are off to the races cleanly. If another d-man comes to help out, even better - that means that someone on your team is now open, and with your head up you can see them and make a pass.

3) Do cardio, lots and lots of cardio. I do minimal/zero weight lifting, as I have built myself into the human equivalent of a cheetah, slim with infinite endurance - think pro tennis players. This means that by the middle of the 2nd period onward, I am still going strong while most others are sucking wind and slowing down. As I said, play low-level men's league with no checking, so physical strength, while it could be useful on occasion in the corners, rarely comes into play.

Balance on your skates and ice awareness are THE most important abilities to be better than 95% of the rest of the players, allowing you to make passes to the inevitable open teammate (since in the lower levels, 3 out of 5 opposing players will simply chase the puck handler all over the ice putting their team in bad positioning).

Later on after these other 3 are your shot, but save that for year 2 or 3 after starting.

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06-03-2014, 11:01 AM
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Nice post.

I already do #1. I skate a lot at public skates, but we don't have S&P here.

#2 is a good tip. It's so hard not to look down.

#3 makes me think I should start running again.

Interesting point about not bothering much about your shot at first. Mine sucks, but I mostly aim to get right into the slot as much as possible. I made a shooting pad but I'm pretty much restricted to wrist and snap shots. My attempts at a slapshot only ever seem to hurt my hand/arm/back.

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06-03-2014, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AntsSheffield View Post
Nice post.

I already do #1. I skate a lot at public skates, but we don't have S&P here.

#2 is a good tip. It's so hard not to look down.

#3 makes me think I should start running again.

Interesting point about not bothering much about your shot at first. Mine sucks, but I mostly aim to get right into the slot as much as possible. I made a shooting pad but I'm pretty much restricted to wrist and snap shots. My attempts at a slapshot only ever seem to hurt my hand/arm/back.
#2 should be looked at as really a 1A. If you watch noobs and even many intermediate players they are constantly not only looking down at the puck - but staring at it like it is their ----.

Watch NHL players, they look down for a half second when someone passes to them, and then look up to see what is happening around them, catch the pass without looking down - they are confident in their "feel" of the puck - and then make their move (pass, start to move with the puck, etc.). By the time they receive the pass, they usually ALREADY KNOW what they are going to do.

The only way to get to this level of achievement is to practice, practice, practice skating with the puck and catching/making passes with someone else on the ice.

As for your shot, an accurate wrist/snapshot is worth ten times a hard but inaccurate slapper. If you can consistently get your shot on net with linemates in the slot/in front of the goalie, your team will score more often than when a F rifles a slapper that goes in by itself, but is often not on target.

My line had 4 goals last night, and all of them were from me either passing to them while they were open by the side of the net/circle and they wristed it in with an open look, or I wristed a shot on net and they jumped on a fat rebound while standing in front of the goalie.

All of this was because I was able to control the puck in the other team's zone; I'd skate around any defender standing still, or if they came at me, I'd deke one way and launch in the other direction. If my head was not up seeing the ice 90% of the time, I could not do this. I think we were in the offensive zone over 95% of the time during our shifts.

And my shot is shyte, but my wrister/snapshot I've worked on so I can place it pretty accurately - if there is no stick n puck by you, build a pitchback-type item that you can fire shots off - WITHOUT LOOKING DOWN AT THE PUCK WHEN YOU SHOOT - and aim for specific spots on the target. Shooting off of a dryland boards like this would also provide a more ice-surface-type feel when you'd shoot:

http://www.hockeymonkey.com/ez-puck-...FYGhOgodsyQAIg

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06-03-2014, 02:30 PM
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[QUOTE=nystromshairstylist;86013001]#2 should be looked at as really a 1A. If you watch noobs and even many intermediate players they are constantly not only looking down at the puck - but staring at it like it is their ----.

You are absolutely, 100% correct, and I have done this too many times to count. Not only is keeping your head up important, it's a health hazard. I've done this twice in my last two games and have gotten my clock cleaned incidentally both times by running into my opponents. Luckily my opponents were patient with me and asked if I was alright. This isn't always the case. I always have to remind myself to be present, pay attention to all around, and keep my head up. If I don't remind myself I have a few teammates that will gently remind me. "Keep your ******* up."

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06-03-2014, 06:13 PM
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Mikey 48
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As a lifetime D switching to forward full time, I have a question to ask.

What's the best way to get the puck off the boards when your defender throws it up? Whether it's in our end or in the neutral zone, I'm having lots of trouble getting control of it after it's been tossed up the boards, which most of the time results in their Dman pinching in and taking control of it. Any tips would be much appreciated!

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06-03-2014, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikey 48 View Post
As a lifetime D switching to forward full time, I have a question to ask.

What's the best way to get the puck off the boards when your defender throws it up? Whether it's in our end or in the neutral zone, I'm having lots of trouble getting control of it after it's been tossed up the boards, which most of the time results in their Dman pinching in and taking control of it. Any tips would be much appreciated!
For a pass along the boards, depending upon the situation, you might want your d-man to pass it high along them so both you and the pinching opposing player will miss the puck to get it out of the zone. That said, for a pass along the lower boards your dman expects you to actually catch and isn't just trying to get out of the zone to calm the pressure, you would use you leg or body along the wall. I try to flatten my back against the wall and use a leg if its a low pass, then kick it away from the wall a bit and start skating up ice with it. If its a high pass, it will hit my shoulder or arm, fall down, and I can then either send it further up along the boards, or towards the middle of the ice to a center-man.

Another thing many new forwards do that drives me crazy causing me to yell at them is they stand at a spot along the wall and wait for their d-man's pass to arrive, as if their feet are cemented to the ice. They need to recognize the speed of the pass and go back down along the wall and scoop the puck and spin away from the wall, giving them a step on the pinching d-man. If you wait for the puck to get to you, the pinching dman will often beat you to the puck due to their momentum coming into the zone.

It also takes a bit of practice, but catching the puck with your glove, along the wall, dropping it in front of you and taking off in rapid fashion can help you keep a step ahead of the pinching dman.

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06-04-2014, 05:39 PM
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Moving back to the puck to pick up the pass is big. It gains separation and gets you off the wall where you are tied up easily. BUT... sometimes tying up on the wall is a valid tactic. If you know you are going to catch it and have a guy on you, go ahead and tie it up and work the boards. Generally though, moving to the puck gives you enough separation to make a play.

As for staring at the puck, it takes a long time to get out of that habit, but it is critical. Also, if you are staring down, then your body position will be all jacked up and you will never execute a proper shot. To shoot well, you need to have your head up so that your body will be balanced properly. Another tip I would add is that when shooting, pick a spot. Don't just aim for the net, aim for a spot on net. The faster you learn to think that way, the faster your accuracy will improve.

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06-04-2014, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nystromshairstylist View Post
Once you have the puck, DO NOT look down at it. If you want to be an effective forward, LOOK UP to see what the opposing team is doing and where they are positioned. This is THE most important thing you can do on the ice, IMO.
You're seriously overstating this. If you look at pictures of NHL players skating with possession, they spend a lot of time looking down at the puck. Not in open ice, of course, but in the corners and in traffic most skaters are looking at the puck the majority of the time, and using peripheral vision and quick glances to survey their surroundings.

You should try to look down as little as possible, but everyone looks at the puck most of the time.

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06-04-2014, 09:29 PM
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Mikey 48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nystromshairstylist View Post
For a pass along the boards, depending upon the situation, you might want your d-man to pass it high along them so both you and the pinching opposing player will miss the puck to get it out of the zone. That said, for a pass along the lower boards your dman expects you to actually catch and isn't just trying to get out of the zone to calm the pressure, you would use you leg or body along the wall. I try to flatten my back against the wall and use a leg if its a low pass, then kick it away from the wall a bit and start skating up ice with it. If its a high pass, it will hit my shoulder or arm, fall down, and I can then either send it further up along the boards, or towards the middle of the ice to a center-man.

Another thing many new forwards do that drives me crazy causing me to yell at them is they stand at a spot along the wall and wait for their d-man's pass to arrive, as if their feet are cemented to the ice. They need to recognize the speed of the pass and go back down along the wall and scoop the puck and spin away from the wall, giving them a step on the pinching d-man. If you wait for the puck to get to you, the pinching dman will often beat you to the puck due to their momentum coming into the zone.

It also takes a bit of practice, but catching the puck with your glove, along the wall, dropping it in front of you and taking off in rapid fashion can help you keep a step ahead of the pinching dman.
Woops, saw this post a while ago and forgot to reply . Thank you!

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06-05-2014, 01:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Devil Dancer View Post
You're seriously overstating this. If you look at pictures of NHL players skating with possession, they spend a lot of time looking down at the puck. Not in open ice, of course, but in the corners and in traffic most skaters are looking at the puck the majority of the time, and using peripheral vision and quick glances to survey their surroundings./
Check videos of NHL players on breakaways, scrums, etc., on youtube, they look at the puck sparingly, especially since if they don't keep their head up - they will get crunched.

Quote:
You should try to look down as little as possible,
Agree with this.

Quote:
but everyone looks at the puck most of the time.
Don't agree with this. The more time you spend looking at the puck, the less you are able to see what is happening around you, who is open, who is coming at you, and from what direction.

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06-05-2014, 02:07 PM
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I suspect he was referring to total time on puck, not just free ice possession. If you looked at it, you might find that a huge percentage of time is found battling along the boards and guys are looking for the puck during that. But, I think overall it misses the point that people are generally talking about open ice possession.

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