The One Skill That Will Make You 10 Times The Hockey Player
Learn To Skate With And Handle The Puck With Your Head Up
Some Random Final Thoughts
In the writing of this series, a number of important but random concepts about this topic popped into my head, so I’m lumping them all together as some final thoughts.
There are a number of skills and subsets of skills that need to be mastered to be a great hockey player. Too much of a deficiency in any one these skills will limit a player’s career.
I happen to believe that the most important skill that needs to learned is that of skating and handling a puck with one’s head up. You can have every other skill set mastered, but if when handling a puck if you have your head down focused on the puck, you will have little or no clue of what is going on around you. You will never be the player you could be and is the single skill set without which your career will end early.
Skating while handling a puck with the head up is not an innate skill. In fact, as I wrote in a previous part of this series, there are a number factors that are typically a part of the usual process of learning hockey that tend to work to produce poor habits. It is an acquired skill that needs to learned and practiced in order to become proficient and become natural.
My advise is to take lessons from a qualified instructor. Fortunately in recent years the fundamentals of hockey skills have been analysed and broken down into their essential elements and there are good people qualified to teach these skills.
Some More Thoughts
As I noted before; If you do not have control of your edges in skating, you will not have control of your lower body and will be fighting to maintain balance. Since your upper body is attached to your lower body; there will little chance to efficiently control and handle a puck. It is wise to get some professional instruction for edge control. Twenty to thirty years ago, there was very little good qualified instruction available but this is no longer the case. Fortunately there are some very good instructors of hockey skills out there. I know of a couple in my area of Toronto, so feel free to contact me for information …. and by the way, I have no attachment what so ever to those I will be recommending.
And Some More Thoughts
If you think of the range of motion in which you can move a puck around your body and still maintain control with your stick; it’s quite remarkable. If you think further of all of the crazy skating maneuvers that you might be perform at the same time as handling a puck; it should become apparent that a high level of “separation” between your upper body and your lower body is required. It’s as if while your lower body is going through all of the crazy skating maneuvers required at a high level hockey; your upper body is sitting relatively serenely atop while moving the puck through the full range of motion possible. Ask your instructor if they do drills using both symmetrical and asymmetrical movements. See if they even know what it means.
And Some Final Final Thoughts
It’s quite impossible to have you head up all the time under all stick handling situations. You just want to get the head back up as quickly as possible and be very careful of the situation during which your head is down. Watch the Connor McDavid goal once again you will see he puts his eyes down for a split second as he beats Rielly.
The ideal position for carrying a puck is hands in front of your body with hands fairly close together. Take a look a the following picture of McDavid just after he has beaten Rielly.
My next blog will be titled “Fear And Loathing In Las Hockeyville”.
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