Make the most of your performance this upcoming season by practicing drills in your free time. Stickhandling is a fundamental skill that many players can easily improve upon and it’s a simple skill that you can practice off the rink. Practice these exercises for a few minutes each day on your Sport Court to improve your hockey skills.
An easy drill to practice off-ice, being able to stickhandle well can separate the average players from the excellent players. Professionals recommend you use a wooden ball because it moves faster than a puck moves on ice. As you practice this drill repeatedly, you’ll recognize that every time the puck hits the blade, it sends a vibration up the stick and you can feel where the puck is without looking. You’ll be able to move more fluidly and naturally across the rink.
Just playing around with a wooden ball on your Sport Court can create muscle memory for you to improve your reaction time. You’ll gain a better feel for the puck and increase your ability to not loose the puck as much.
Practice stickhandling in uncomfortable positions
The easiest position to move a puck is from the front where it feels most natural, but in hockey you are often required to move the puck out of your comfort zone. To be in full control of a puck, you have to know how to approach it from all angles. Use a wooden ball and learn to manipulate the ball in different angles. Stick handle the ball closer to your body and on your backhand side and forehand side. Practice your toe drags and stick pulls with a cone dragging the ball on the toe of your stick around the cone.
Reach wide from side to side, cupping the stick blade over with forehand and backhand skills. Then, learn to bring the ball to the forehand side, reaching wide front to back. And repeat with the backhand. Afterward, combine the two drills to make a U-shape. This drill will ready you for any puck manipulation you’ll need in a game.
Set up a target to shoot at, whether it’s an actual net, hockey tarp, or piece of tape, and set a large obstacle, like a tire, about ten feet away and at an angle from your target goal. Your goal is to move as if you are coming from “behind” the goal, running past the obstacle—or opponent—and turning back around to shoot. Move forward as quickly as possible from “behind” the goal, dribbling the puck as if you are being attacked and cut around the tire to get a shot on net. It helps to simulate a game situation as if an opponent is on you, so move the puck to the outside and wide. Practicing this exercise over and over will help you master the elements of speed, agility, and positioning needed to make a play in front of the net.
[Pro-tip: For off-ice stickhandling exercises, use a stick that is slightly shorter than your on-ice stick to compensate for the fact that you’re not on elevated skates, and it will better mimic the lie angle of your stick.]
Once the temperature drops, transform your exterior Sport Court in an ice hockey arena, and take your skills to the rink! All you need to do is to flood and freeze your Sport Court outdoor game court, and in no time, you’ll have the perfect ice rink for your hockey training sessions and scrimmages.