Zen & The Art of Stickhandling By Pete Fry, Puckmasters

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Zen and the Art of Golf Ball Manipulation
I am excited to have the opportunity to share this valuable information with you. Today we’ll talk about stickhandling. Stickhandling (the ability to manipulate the puck on your stick while maintaining control) is a bit of a lost art in today’s game. Back in the old days before forward passing was allowed, the only way to advance the puck into the opposition’s zone was to carry it or pass it laterally. Nowadays, with the forward pass not only acceptable, it is encouraged, it’s far more common to see a team dump the puck in deep and then chase it down.
However, keep in mind that stickhandling goes hand-in-hand with puck possession, and as long as your team has control of the puck, the other team can’t score. If you’re being checked by an opposition player, the better you can control the puck, the longer you’ll be able to maintain possession, and the more successful you’ll be. Often you’ll find yourself having to stickhandle through or past an opposition player (or players), and often you’ll need to stickhandle just to buy some time until you can find a clear pass.
One of the best ways to improve your stickhandling is to practice with a golf ball. They’re small, agile, and move quickly on any smooth surface. Plus, they’re a little tougher to control than a puck. If you define a small area on a floor, about 3′ square, practice maintaining control of the golf ball within this area. When manipulating the puck, think of holding a paintbrush, gently rolling your wrists from side to side. Keep your wrists soft and flexible. If you’ve ever heard a hockey player described as having “soft hands,” this is what they’re talking about. The more relaxed you can keep your wrists, the more you’ll be able to control the puck (or in this case, golf ball).

2) Remember Where Your Power Comes From The transfer of weight from the back foot to the front
foot is where you generate most of your power, not from your upper body. Practice this as you’re developing your wingspan. Rock your body from side to side, and concentrate on the transfer of weight. Once you transfer your weight from your back foot to your front foot, your front foot should be turned towards the net, so that you are automatically starting to drive to the net for a rebound.

3) Strengthen Your Wrists
The final action of cocking your wrists gives your wrist shot the final “oomph” and helps to accelerate the puck off your stick towards the goal. The more power you can put into this action, the better your wrist shot will be, especially for low shots where you cock your wrists closed. One way to increase your wrist strength is to tie one end of a thick string or cord to a weight, and the other end to a dowel. With your hands extended in front of you parallel to the floor, roll the weight up and down by rotating the dowel with your fingers and wrists. It’s a little technique I picked up to improve my wrist strength for rock climbing, but it works equally well in hockey.

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