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Stick handling in game situations

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Old
02-21-2013, 02:50 AM
  #1
American in Paris
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Stick handling in game situations

OK, so I learned how to play as a kid outside, uncoached, mostly in pickup games and played one year of club hockey in High School. I stopped playing from 18-26 and have been back into the game now for 7 years.

My fondness for hockey developed into love, then passion and now, my wife would tell you, a full blown obsession. I play 3-4 times per week with two different clubs.

I'm a good skater - one of the best in both clubs - which makes me a disruptive player on defense and the forecheck.

My passing is good to a fault - I almost always try to pass the puck rather than develop a play individually. I've got very accurate and quickly released wrist and snapshots so I score often if my teammates are making good passes. But my stickhandling is poor/mediocre.

Here's the thing: over the last 2 years I've been working very hard at improving my stickhandling. I'm practicing the Sean Skinner drills on and off the ice. And I seem to be making progress... at least in theory. During warmups I can rapid-fire stick handle all the way around my body, through the legs, off my skates, wide/narrow, toe drags, etc. I've seen video of myself and it looks good.

I should be deking -la-Datsuk through trafic but when the game starts I lose all dexterity. After a few unsuccessful attemps at trying to stickhandle under pressure, I revert to my habit of sticking to open ice and receiving/giving passes.

So why aren't my newly developed stick handling skills working in game play? What kind of drills can I do to improve?

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02-21-2013, 08:56 AM
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sanityplease
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Quote:
After a few unsuccessful attemps at trying to stickhandle under pressure, I revert to my habit of sticking to open ice and receiving/giving passes
That habit is a good one & usually a sign of a player who has been coached in a structured way through their development. Stickhandling under pressure when you have a lower risk play to move the puck is NOT a good habit.

Passing is good, it's a sign that you've got some on ice vision. (Most of Datsyuk's highlight reel goals come from plays where he doesn't have a good passing option & no other choice but to make a play alone.) Unfortunately it can be frustrating when playing with players that don't give the puck back and/or can't make good passes, that's not your fault. They're usually the ones who get the puck, put the eye blinders on & drive to the net & try to score without ever noticing the team mate who's standing there looking @ an open net, or shoot blindly from wherever as soon as an opponent gets close to them.

When you're practicing the stickhandling drills, are you keeping your head up & able to look around? It's important to be able to assess the situation. If you have to go 1 on 1 against a defender, start paying attention to how he/she is moving, are they coming @ you or backing up? Are they moving laterally or not? Are they a very good skater, or a poor one? Are they trying to check you early (@ the blueline) or late? There are a lot of factors in a play that will dictate what your best options are. The pro's do all of this in their head. They just do it instinctively from years of studying & practicing the game.

& start trying some moves @ puck/stick time & pick-up/shinny games.

IMHO you sound like you're on the right track.

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02-21-2013, 12:00 PM
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JR97
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I'll echo the other dude and say you're making it sound like finding open space and players is a bad thing. I'm pretty much the same as you minus the slick stick handling skills. I think you should continue playing your style because it's definitely lower risk/higher reward and creates more problems for teams than trying to get beat by someone one on one or one on two. A puck carrier in open space means there are 4 other threats on the ice as well besides the puck carrier.

Or maybe try this approach.. get to the open space in the O zone and don't unleash the stick handling beast until someone is on you. That'll buy you more time in the future because dudes will be less inclined to get deked out.

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02-22-2013, 02:10 AM
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American in Paris
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I should clarify: I didn't mean to suggest that passing is an ineffective tactic. I enjoy setting teammates up for a pretty goal more than scoring one myself.

But sometimes someone needs to move the puck up the ice or through trafic. Or in the O-zone, when I'm fighting for the puck in the corner and the center comes over to pinch, quick stickhandling may be the only way to maintain possesion.

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02-22-2013, 10:19 AM
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Jarick
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Skating is an underrated part of stickhandling. I'd rather be a good skater with bad hands than a bad skater with good hands (which is what I am). You can make room for yourself with your legs.

Anyways, for me, I did like you did, practiced the drills over and over. Then I spent a solid 1-2 years trying out the moves and failing while I played. At some point I learned to start making my moves earlier, and instead of making moves for the sake of making moves, make moves with a purpose.

By that I mean, instead of trying to deke through a guy, try to push him one way and then go around him the other. And don't wait until the last second to dangle through his legs, but get him to take a stride or two backwards one direction and then cut the other way, before you are on top of him.

Also, puck protection is big. Get the puck in front of you or wide if you're being checked or chased from behind.

Another thing that helped was going to a bit shorter stick. It's easier to control the puck and you make moves closer to your body (and further from the opposition).

Shinny is big too if you can play outdoors, when you're skating with a bunch of people and little kids, there's no high speed rushes or backchecking or physical play or crashing the net etc. Just lots of puck control and short passes with stick check defense. And no pressure when you screw up.

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02-22-2013, 02:49 PM
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Shanahanigans
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Skating is the most important part of stickhandling. You can have lightning quick hands but if you're not going anywhere then its useless. What I do is that If I'm going in one direction and run into traffic, I don't really try to stick handle quickly through them, I quickly and sharply change direction laterally to try and lose them.

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02-23-2013, 02:12 AM
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Deceive people by shifting your shoulders a lot.

Also it might help to have one or two go to moves in certain situations and just give yourself the confidence to use them in those situations. Think about how many players you see NHL and below who really only have one move but are so good at it that it doesn't really matter.

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02-25-2013, 02:52 AM
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American in Paris
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Definitely agree. I played last night and instead of worrying about the stickhandling I focused on moving my feet as fast as possible. Quick short steps left then right then back in traffic. The defenders were showing a lot of respect with the large gap they left me so I was able to get in to the top of the circles every time then slow up and either shoot or drop it back to my wingers.

Still... I can't stop fantasizing about dancing through traffic like Malkin and beating the goalie with a Datsukian dangle.

I think my problem is in combining precise stickhandling with quick foot movement. I noticed last night that the faster my feet move the less I'm stickhanding the puck.

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02-25-2013, 10:58 AM
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JR97
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Quote:
Originally Posted by American in Paris View Post
Still... I can't stop fantasizing about dancing through traffic like Malkin and beating the goalie with a Datsukian dangle.

I think my problem is in combining precise stickhandling with quick foot movement. I noticed last night that the faster my feet move the less I'm stickhanding the puck.
Here's me from last night: (ok, it's not me but I pretended it was)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0hEkLDIJ8Y

opposite angle:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxeRhV_ha54

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02-25-2013, 11:28 AM
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Jarick
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I was taught to stickhandle with your stride. I'm a lefty so I was taught carry on the forehand pushing off the left foot and then on the backhand pushing off the right. This is only when you're skating up ice with the puck mostly in front of you, not a breakaway situation. For those it was push the puck up in front of you and skate as hard as you can.

Anyways, it was minimal stickhandling, just build a base so it's automatic. Then you can do the tricky hands bit.

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02-25-2013, 11:32 AM
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Jarick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JR97 View Post
Here's me from last night: (ok, it's not me but I pretended it was)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0hEkLDIJ8Y

opposite angle:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxeRhV_ha54
SO DIRTY

I played shinny on Saturday and I'm all hands and no feet. So ideal for shinny Pulled some nice moves but pretty much all standing still.

Underrated part of working on your hands, those loose puck situations. When you're super comfortable handling and dragging the puck and doing it 360 degrees, you can nab more loose pucks. So it's not JUST for the selfish dangly moves!

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02-25-2013, 01:36 PM
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Lonny Bohonos
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Quote:
Originally Posted by American in Paris View Post
Definitely agree. I played last night and instead of worrying about the stickhandling I focused on moving my feet as fast as possible. Quick short steps left then right then back in traffic. The defenders were showing a lot of respect with the large gap they left me so I was able to get in to the top of the circles every time then slow up and either shoot or drop it back to my wingers.

Still... I can't stop fantasizing about dancing through traffic like Malkin and beating the goalie with a Datsukian dangle.

I think my problem is in combining precise stickhandling with quick foot movement. I noticed last night that the faster my feet move the less I'm stickhanding the puck.
Coordination and having to think about both things.

Big issue for me is my generally bad skating which i tend to think about doing and so stick handling etc is harder.

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