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Advice for faceoffs and tips

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07-31-2010, 12:52 AM
  #1
Jimmy Carter
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Advice for faceoffs and tips

Hey guys, first of all this is my first thread on HFBoards. Been reading for a bit and only recently started posting. Great site, and great advice in "The Rink". So thanks everyone!

Anyway, I've been playing pickup street/roller hockey for nearly a decade but only recently joined a league. I've always played center and usually done pretty well. Only thing is that during pickup games, we'd always just do the "N-H-L" tapping sticks thing for faceoffs. Got pretty awesome at that, unfortunately, it doesn't translate for me to winning faceoffs with the puck being dropped. So my main need for help is tips and drills (besides just taking tons of faceoffs, obviously that would help lol) for winning faceoffs. It's so frustrating to play wing when I want and love to play center, and this is the main thing holding me back from playing center on my team.

The other thing that I'd like help with is tipping pucks. I'm a fairly big guy (6' 1"-6' 2", 250 lbs) so I love playing in front of the net and I usually provide a pretty nice screen for my teammates (and no one can ever move me out ). Problem is I'm not too great at tipping pucks out of the air. On the ground, I can (on a good day lol) pick corners with tips, but I struggle tipping pucks out of the air. Most of the time I end up just knocking them down, which is great in my own zone but sucks for the offensive zone. I seem to have even more trouble with my backhand tipping, I miss a lot of pucks outright on my backhand. So, I need advice and drills on how to properly tip pucks.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, any faceoff drills I could do alone would be preferred so I can do them whenever. Plus if it requires someone taking a faceoff against me, I'm going back to college in a month and sadly most of my college buddies have only played a year or so of street hockey and my school is an hour from my league teammates.


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07-31-2010, 12:59 AM
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apparently I can't delete my posts anymore...

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07-31-2010, 10:22 AM
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Steelhead16
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I don't really have any drills for you to do just some advice. The best advice I can give you when taking a faceoff is to have a plan and mix it up. Most guys in adult leagues just whack the puck toward the boards and call it good. Another issue that I see is that refs in adult leagues bounce the puck a lot. A couple of things that I do is in my defensive zone I will try and pull the puck back to my defenseman back on the goal line. I will also usually do it toward the inside of the ice. Most opponents will figure I am going toward the boards and try and block me from doing that. I will sweep at the puck and move forward and turn my hips parallel to the boards to block the other center out.
In the neutral and offensive zones you have a lot more options. This is where you can come up with ideas with your wings. A lot of times in the offensive zone I won't even touch the puck. I just tie up the center's stick and take one step toward the middle and have my outside wing charge in and either take the puck to the middle himself or drop it back to the point and crash the net. Even if the other wing comes with him the 2 centers will provide a pick for him to be able to get some open space. This works great if the ref bounces the puck a lot or if the other center has been beating you.

You can't win faceoffs by yourself, you need the puck to go to a teammate so they need to be involved as well. It's your job to let them know what you are going to do so that they don't have to react to what you did. Give them the advantage of being able to get a step on their opposing player. You don't always have to be quicker to win faceoffs just smarter. Pay attention to what your opposing center has been doing. If he has a pattern then you have an advantage and can do something opposite of that pattern. And for you, mix it up so that they can't figure you out either. If they are trying to figure you out then they won't have 100% focus on what they are doing.

If you have video of some NHL games try watching different faceoffs over and over. Watch the offensive side, the defensive side and what each person is doing during the faceoff. Try and figure out what each centers plan was going in and see why it worked or why it didn't.

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07-31-2010, 11:06 AM
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Jimmy Carter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steelhead16 View Post
I don't really have any drills for you to do just some advice. The best advice I can give you when taking a faceoff is to have a plan and mix it up. Most guys in adult leagues just whack the puck toward the boards and call it good. Another issue that I see is that refs in adult leagues bounce the puck a lot. A couple of things that I do is in my defensive zone I will try and pull the puck back to my defenseman back on the goal line. I will also usually do it toward the inside of the ice. Most opponents will figure I am going toward the boards and try and block me from doing that. I will sweep at the puck and move forward and turn my hips parallel to the boards to block the other center out.
In the neutral and offensive zones you have a lot more options. This is where you can come up with ideas with your wings. A lot of times in the offensive zone I won't even touch the puck. I just tie up the center's stick and take one step toward the middle and have my outside wing charge in and either take the puck to the middle himself or drop it back to the point and crash the net. Even if the other wing comes with him the 2 centers will provide a pick for him to be able to get some open space. This works great if the ref bounces the puck a lot or if the other center has been beating you.

You can't win faceoffs by yourself, you need the puck to go to a teammate so they need to be involved as well. It's your job to let them know what you are going to do so that they don't have to react to what you did. Give them the advantage of being able to get a step on their opposing player. You don't always have to be quicker to win faceoffs just smarter. Pay attention to what your opposing center has been doing. If he has a pattern then you have an advantage and can do something opposite of that pattern. And for you, mix it up so that they can't figure you out either. If they are trying to figure you out then they won't have 100% focus on what they are doing.

If you have video of some NHL games try watching different faceoffs over and over. Watch the offensive side, the defensive side and what each person is doing during the faceoff. Try and figure out what each centers plan was going in and see why it worked or why it didn't.
Good tips for sure, I should try tying up the other center. But I need the most help on faceoffs where I draw it to a teammate without any help in the faceoff circle. Mostly the issue is on timing the draw and getting my stick to go through the motions quicker then the other guys. I think I may not have my stick in proper position either. Any tips on that stuff would be of great use to me. Thanks for the strategies though, they'll help a lot once I get the physical part of winning faceoffs down

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07-31-2010, 12:38 PM
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Playing center and being a smaller guy(just under 6 foot, 170 pounds soaking wet) I was never very useful for screens in front, but I had good hands in front of the net. Deflections are all about practice and focus. It seems like your positioning is pretty good in front of the net, so it should just about be second nature at this point. The problem that deflections is that there is a really fine line between a sweet tip for a goal, and stopping the puck dead or missing altogether. Its tough to get the hang of, but once your hand-eye coordination gets better, you will find yourself tipping more pucks than you miss.

If you get the chance to go to an open skate, stick and puck, or whatever its referred to in your area, get a friend and head down. Grab a ton of pucks, and have him toss them at the net, and try deflecting them. Make sure he's not cranking pucks at you either. You don't need to practice deflecting rockets. Practice deflecting slower shots, and as you get better at it, try deflecting harder shots. Thats how I learned, and it worked pretty good.

As for playing center and taking face-offs... They were never really my strong suit up until this last season(I started my last season at center, my first time truly playing the position). So needless to say, I struggled. But as the season went on, my win percentage got higher and higher. I can't really give you any help on how to win face-offs, sorry.

However, if someone else on your team/line is better at face-offs, have them take the draw and then switch positions. Let him take the face-off, and then assume your normal offensive/defensive responsibilities as center.

Best of luck to you.

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07-31-2010, 01:32 PM
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Hi,
no real tips from me, just another option for teamwork with your winger.
I am a lefty playing right wing. Once or twice in a game, I would tell my center to try to push the puck through the legs of his opponent. Either on a face-off in the middle or in our own zone.
I start skating from the boards toward the middle, while the ref prepares to drop the puck. The moment he drops it, I d'be almost on full speed passing behind my opponent and skating between the Ds on a breakaway. I scored a lot of goals like this .It might work once or twice per game.

I never found a rule stating the players must stand still when the puck is dropped.

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07-31-2010, 02:45 PM
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It sounds like you're trying to tip pucks with a blade perpendicular to the ice. If you want the puck to be tipped up, open your blade so the toe is directed at the crossbar. If you want to puck to go down, close the blade so the toe is pointing towards the blue line.

Tipping takes a lot of practice though, so don't get discouraged. You'll be better off just letting the puck hit your stick than trying to swat it up or down.

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07-31-2010, 02:48 PM
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Faceoff tips :

Where the faceoff is located and looking what handed shot the opposing centerman is will help your strategy.

Over the course of the game, learn their tendances. Do they try to win it backhand or forehand ? Then negate their strategy.

If the ref keeps bouncing the puck or you are losing a lot of draws, stop trying to win it clean. Just make sure you hook their stick so they can;t touch the puck. Try to win it with your feet or have one of your wingers get to it. Better a puck battle than a clean win for the opposition.

In the neutral zone, I ask my winger on the side with the most open ice to go wide. Try to bat the puck towards him on my forehand. He picks up speed and tries to beat the D. Ideally do this when a slower bigger defenseman is on his side. Since the D will be standing still at the faceoff, you can easily beat him with speed.

In the offensive zone, If you are having trouble winning it back to your D, put an off handed winger on the goal side about 4 feet back from the hash marks. Try winning it to him for a one-time snap shot. If he is on his off wing he will have a very quick release before the goalie can see it.

You can also try having the boards winger be a few back on the hash marks. Win the faceoff to him for him to feed the far D for a one timer.

Remember on a scrambled draw, the winger closest to the boards should come help. The winger closest to the net should get open (off zone) or pick up his D (defensive zone). Make sure you tie up your center. If you lose the puck, don't lose the physical battle with him.

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07-31-2010, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krax View Post
Hi,
no real tips from me, just another option for teamwork with your winger.
I am a lefty playing right wing. Once or twice in a game, I would tell my center to try to push the puck through the legs of his opponent. Either on a face-off in the middle or in our own zone.
I start skating from the boards toward the middle, while the ref prepares to drop the puck. The moment he drops it, I d'be almost on full speed passing behind my opponent and skating between the Ds on a breakaway. I scored a lot of goals like this .It might work once or twice per game.

I never found a rule stating the players must stand still when the puck is dropped.
ya but that leaves you way out of position if you lose the draw, especially if your opposing winger gets the puck, you'd skate right past him

as for advice, when I took faceoffs I would kinda hit the other centre's blade out of the way while the puck was still dropping, then kinda sweep the puck back to my D all in one motion, either that or tie his stick up and kick it back or wait for help from the wingers,

if you lose the draw just remember to stick to your man (the centre) and don't follow the puck, a lot of goals against are scored that way

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07-31-2010, 05:00 PM
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dont forget to watch the puck in the refs hand, dont look down at the ice where the puck is going(remember we all know where its going, the question is WHEN is it going to get there). if you follow it from the refs hand down you get a 1/2 a second jump on the other centerman.

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07-31-2010, 05:41 PM
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I'm far from a faceoff wizzard, but i think the best advice i can give is, winning a faceoff is often as much about PREVENTING the other guy from doing what he wants, as it is you doing what you want.

Don't just focus on trying to win the puck cleanly to your own player. Consider what the other centre is doing, and how you can counterract that. Go in with a plan as to how you're going to defend against your opponents stick. Tie it up, lift it, knock it down and away, block it out, use his power against him, etc. Get your skates into it, move your whole body around, disrupt your opponent's balance, change it up, be unpredictable. There's no 'right' way to win a faceoff.

And if you're used to doing those 'N-H-L' faceoffs, don't be afraid to go in with a forehand grip and use your experience there to advantage. It seems like a lot of people are afraid to use different grips. And be aware of your balance, as well as your opponent's balance. At times, inexperienced amateurs will get themselves bent over in such a way that they aren't very well balanced and it makes them easier to move or cause them to fall over. It also takes away a lot of their available power on the draw. As always in hockey, you want to have a solid base.

Mostly though, just practice, practice, practice. I hope at least some of that helps somehow.

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07-31-2010, 06:43 PM
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Tip ins are tricky, and are as much a product of the guy shooting the puck as they are the guy standing in front. There are some things you can do, and one of those is just like hitting a baseball, keep your eye on the puck. Look it all the way into your stick. A deflectable shot should really be shin high. The best time I ever had tipping pucks was skating with some guys that played minor league hockey, they could shoot from the point all day and put pucks in the perfect spot every time. The key to adjusting to their shots is to keep your eye on the puck and look it into your stick. Otherwise it's just usually a happy accident and you're better off just screening so either the goalie doesn't see it, or if he makes the save you're in a position to put quickly tap in a rebound.

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07-31-2010, 09:29 PM
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Jimmy Carter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biturbo19 View Post
I'm far from a faceoff wizzard, but i think the best advice i can give is, winning a faceoff is often as much about PREVENTING the other guy from doing what he wants, as it is you doing what you want.

Don't just focus on trying to win the puck cleanly to your own player. Consider what the other centre is doing, and how you can counterract that. Go in with a plan as to how you're going to defend against your opponents stick. Tie it up, lift it, knock it down and away, block it out, use his power against him, etc. Get your skates into it, move your whole body around, disrupt your opponent's balance, change it up, be unpredictable. There's no 'right' way to win a faceoff.

And if you're used to doing those 'N-H-L' faceoffs, don't be afraid to go in with a forehand grip and use your experience there to advantage. It seems like a lot of people are afraid to use different grips. And be aware of your balance, as well as your opponent's balance. At times, inexperienced amateurs will get themselves bent over in such a way that they aren't very well balanced and it makes them easier to move or cause them to fall over. It also takes away a lot of their available power on the draw. As always in hockey, you want to have a solid base.

Mostly though, just practice, practice, practice. I hope at least some of that helps somehow.
Not sure what you mean by this. I usually will take draws sliding my top hand down the stick (choking up, if you will) and flipping my bottom hand over so that the palm is touching the topside of the stick (rather then the bottom side, where it would be near for a shot). Hope I explained that well enough. I'll go look for a picture to explain what I mean in case I wasn't clear enough

EDIT:
I would normally take a faceoff exactly how the player in the white is


Last edited by Jimmy Carter: 07-31-2010 at 09:45 PM.
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07-31-2010, 11:08 PM
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Forehand grip is good for certain situations, but the backhand is definitely the bread and butter.

When I actually cared about winning faceoffs (I am now more concerned with preserving my blades) I would try a variety of tactics. Standard sweep, stick knock then sweep, tie up and kick, you name it. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you I easily won 75 percent of the draws I took in competitive games. That's more of a commentary on how faceoff skills aren't appreciated until the stakes get higher (college, pros) but I also think the fact that I played center every year from Mites to my senior year in high school helped. I was bound to get good at it.

Like anything practice is the best way to get better. In game is limited so grab two buddies and have one drop the puck for you.

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08-01-2010, 04:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJimmyCarterC View Post
Not sure what you mean by this. I usually will take draws sliding my top hand down the stick (choking up, if you will) and flipping my bottom hand over so that the palm is touching the topside of the stick (rather then the bottom side, where it would be near for a shot). Hope I explained that well enough. I'll go look for a picture to explain what I mean in case I wasn't clear enough

EDIT:
I would normally take a faceoff exactly how the player in the white is
as rogerrogerroeper just said, that's definitely the bread and butter, but there are definitely situations where you can go into a faceoff with a forehand grip (basically the way you normally hold your stick), and come away with good results.

obviously it depends on which way you're going to want to move the puck and what the other centre is doing. but you might be surprised how effective something as simple as just smacking the puck on your forehand can be from time to time if you have attentive wingers who are on the same page and an opposing centre who isn't particularly observant. obviously it's not something you'll be able to do every faceoff...but another thing to add to your arsenal.



just think...if it's good enough for Crosby...it's probably good enough for you.

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08-01-2010, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by JJimmyCarterC View Post
Good tips for sure, I should try tying up the other center. But I need the most help on faceoffs where I draw it to a teammate without any help in the faceoff circle. Mostly the issue is on timing the draw and getting my stick to go through the motions quicker then the other guys. I think I may not have my stick in proper position either. Any tips on that stuff would be of great use to me. Thanks for the strategies though, they'll help a lot once I get the physical part of winning faceoffs down
If you can have someone drop you pucks off the ice so that you can practice speed that will help. I noticed in a later post that you take a lot of faceoffs with a backhanded grip? I try and never do that and I like when my opponent does. I know exactly what he is going to do because he can only go one direction and he has no clue what I am going to do. When I am up against someone with a backhand grip I just lift their stick and let them pull across the top of the puck and pull my stick past the puck as well and then I pick it up on the way back. If you can find someone to drop you pucks try practicing taking faceoffs with a forehand grip to your backhand side. If you can get this down you will win a lot of faceoffs. Your opponent will think you are going to your forehand side and either try and do something else for himself or try and prevent you from making a move that you aren't making anyway.

Just by them guessing wrong you may start winning uncontested clean faceoffs. Like others have also said, watch the puck from the refs hand and not the faceoff dot. Better ones will come straight down and get it there pretty quickly but a lot will come up first and then down and your stick may beat the puck to the dot. A dead clean win to a teammate just doesn't happen very often so practice and use a variety and be able to adapt to the ref and to the opponents different centers and you will win more than you lose.

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08-01-2010, 02:28 PM
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Here are a few articles written by Jeff Serowik that might help. Serowik played in the NHL with Yanic Perrault who was one of the best faceoff guys out there. Face-off tips and how to win face-offs

My tip would be to try watching the refs elbow. I used to do this because a lot of refs would dip their elbow before dropping the puck, so it gave me a split second advantage

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08-01-2010, 10:15 PM
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Jimmy Carter
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Here are a few articles written by Jeff Serowik that might help. Serowik played in the NHL with Yanic Perrault who was one of the best faceoff guys out there. Face-off tips and how to win face-offs

My tip would be to try watching the refs elbow. I used to do this because a lot of refs would dip their elbow before dropping the puck, so it gave me a split second advantage
That's a good idea, I'll have to try that!

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08-01-2010, 11:26 PM
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Faceoffs are one of those things that really depends on the person. I almost always tie the guy up and win it after I get him out of position. I'm big and strong though so it's a natural choice for me to win it this way.

With tips, it takes time. I'm really good at it but I always played baseball for years. One thing I'd recommend is a smarthockey ball and "juggling" it on your stick. Not only does it help with hand-eye coordination but it also helps you know where your stick is. This sounds basic but if you think about it, you have a super thin shaft and a rather big blade but the blade isn't in line with the shaft. Your top hand will almost always be the same distance from your blade and in line with your shaft, "juggling" a smarthockey ball is perfect for setting that muscle memory.

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08-02-2010, 04:08 PM
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Faceoffs are one of those things that really depends on the person. I almost always tie the guy up and win it after I get him out of position. I'm big and strong though so it's a natural choice for me to win it this way.

With tips, it takes time. I'm really good at it but I always played baseball for years. One thing I'd recommend is a smarthockey ball and "juggling" it on your stick. Not only does it help with hand-eye coordination but it also helps you know where your stick is. This sounds basic but if you think about it, you have a super thin shaft and a rather big blade but the blade isn't in line with the shaft. Your top hand will almost always be the same distance from your blade and in line with your shaft, "juggling" a smarthockey ball is perfect for setting that muscle memory.
I've played baseball longer then I've played hockey (and was way better at baseball at my best then I am at hockey now) and I can juggle for quite a while (with a roller ball, not a smarthockey one) This makes me nervous that you're saying these things are key when I am good at baseball and juggling but can't tip too well out of the air

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08-02-2010, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by JJimmyCarterC View Post
I've played baseball longer then I've played hockey (and was way better at baseball at my best then I am at hockey now) and I can juggle for quite a while (with a roller ball, not a smarthockey one) This makes me nervous that you're saying these things are key when I am good at baseball and juggling but can't tip too well out of the air
It's not easy to do, it's a lot harder than hitting a baseball.

Get a smarthockey ball, it has some weight and will definitely help the muscle memory. You get no feedback from a roller hockey ball. I literally catch the ball on the blade of the stick and roll it around, keep doing it until you don't have to think about it.

We were screwing around on the ice after a coaching session, another coach took a shot from center ice to lob into the open net like a intermission prize shot. I knocked it out of the air back to him, no practice nothing, no warming up... The practicing with the smarthockey ball gives me the confidence and the muscle memory that it's just second nature. Trust me, it takes time but once you get comfortable with it, no biggie.

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08-02-2010, 07:27 PM
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It's not easy to do, it's a lot harder than hitting a baseball.

Get a smarthockey ball, it has some weight and will definitely help the muscle memory. You get no feedback from a roller hockey ball. I literally catch the ball on the blade of the stick and roll it around, keep doing it until you don't have to think about it.

We were screwing around on the ice after a coaching session, another coach took a shot from center ice to lob into the open net like a intermission prize shot. I knocked it out of the air back to him, no practice nothing, no warming up... The practicing with the smarthockey ball gives me the confidence and the muscle memory that it's just second nature. Trust me, it takes time but once you get comfortable with it, no biggie.
Yeah, I've been contemplating getting one for quite a while now, you may have just sold me on it

Hahaha I love doing things like that. I can whack it out of the air back at the shooter no problem, love yelling "GET OUTTA MY HOUSE!" when I do so Guess I'll get the smarthockey ball and mess around see if it can help me tip rather then reject shots lol. If nothing else it should help my stick handling so might as well get it.

I was just thinking, did you happen to be a halfway decent bunter in baseball? Cause that would make sense to me lol. I usually just cranked hits down either line, never was very good at bunting (though at my speed, coach would have to be pretty desperate for me to bunt lol).

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08-03-2010, 10:34 AM
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jacko23
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i read this thread yesterday and used what i read in my game last night. ive been playing hockey for about 15 years, and center consistently for the last 3-4 months. i have improved alot, but im still learning.

after reading the thread, looking at the opposing center's tendencies helps alot. i put my stick on the dot with the very edge of the toe as close to me as possible and still be on the circle. this way i can react to whichever handedness the other C is, and by watching the refs hand/elbow, i get a little head start to make up for the distance my stick is compared to the puck's landing. im not the biggest or strongest guy, so i need to have quick hands. another thing is whether you win or lose the faceoff, always keep an eye on the opposing center.

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08-03-2010, 10:57 AM
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Dump and Chase
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBLfan View Post
It's not easy to do, it's a lot harder than hitting a baseball.

No offense but I disagree with this. It is not like you are taking a cut at the puck and trying to hit it square. It is basically a bunt that you are just trying to foul back.


Just work on getting quick hands and practice lots and lots of tip ins.

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08-03-2010, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJimmyCarterC View Post
Yeah, I've been contemplating getting one for quite a while now, you may have just sold me on it

Hahaha I love doing things like that. I can whack it out of the air back at the shooter no problem, love yelling "GET OUTTA MY HOUSE!" when I do so Guess I'll get the smarthockey ball and mess around see if it can help me tip rather then reject shots lol. If nothing else it should help my stick handling so might as well get it.

I was just thinking, did you happen to be a halfway decent bunter in baseball? Cause that would make sense to me lol. I usually just cranked hits down either line, never was very good at bunting (though at my speed, coach would have to be pretty desperate for me to bunt lol).
First of all you shouldn't be having to bat pucks out of the air. Shots from the point with people in front of the net should be on the ice. That being said there are circumstances that require a point shot or shot pass to be elevated. When that happens I don't even bother trying to tip it with my stick. No matter how good you are at it you will never get even close to half of them on the net even if a defenseman isn't tying up your stick (which they should be). I try and use my legs/feet/elbows, all of which are a lot bigger than my stick and not being tied up by someone. I try and screen the goalie and then ready myself for a number of options. Puck deflects off me and on net and hits the goalie (I or a teammate bang at a rebound) Puck gets by and hits the goalie (I or a teammate bang at a rebound) Puck hits me and drops down (I or a teammate bang a shot on goal). Either way I don't wave at a puck with a small stick and miss and watch the puck go into the corner. Your odds are way better for scoring a goal from 4 feet in front of the net on an off balance goalie than you do trying to bat a waist high puck out of the air and into the net.

Trust your gear and if the puck leaves a welt and you score a goal, well the goal stays and the welt will heal.

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