Like skating, shooting and passing, stickhandling is a fundamental skill every hockey player must master. Without it, you will be unable to fake out a goalie to score a goal or maintain possession of the puck at key points during a game.
Great stickhandling adds flash to your game, but its true importance is how it enhances your play on the ice. The fine-tuned techniques of elite NHL players like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin give them a definite edge over opponents. They can fake out a defenseman, maintain possession of the puck and speed down the ice to set up a game-changing assist or goal.
When handling the stick, use your top hand to control the blade and your bottom hand to position and support the shaft. Obviously, it’s best to practice your stickhandling drills on the ice with a puck, but since personal ice time is often hard to get, you can work off the ice with a ball that weighs about the same as a puck, like the Smart Hockey Stickhandling Ball, a golf ball or a street hockey ball.
To improve your technique, precision and speed, perform the following three stickhandling drills, which mimic game situations:
Sets/Duration: 5x30 seconds each direction
Benefits: Enhances your ability to transition the puck from your forehand to your backhand while moving in multiple directions
Sets/Duration: 5x30 seconds
Benefits: Develops stickhandling creativity so you can weave your way around opponents trying to steal the puck. For an added challenge, perform drill with a partner to force you to maintain awareness of your surroundings.