7 Keys to Improving Your Stick Handling

Stick Handling is one of the most important skills in hockey. Your ability to be comfortable with the puck and make plays will drive your confidence and production. Below we’ve broken down a number of key ingredients to becoming a great stick handler….

    • The top hand should be the driving force behind the cradling of the puck. Roll the wrist to dribble/cup the puck.
    • The bottom hand should be gripped less tightly and be more of a guide rather than the dominant grip on the stick. You want to be able to easily slide the bottom hand up and down the shaft of the stick to give yourself a great range of motion while stick handling. Range of motion is important because you want to be able to dribble outside of your feet. Having the ability to make a quick dribble inside your feet and move the puck outside them to evade a defender as well as puck protect translates to the higher levels.  Having a great range of motion will also allow you to rotate your upper body and give you the ability to make plays on the fly, either on the strong or weak side.
    • Cradle the puck. There should be as little space as possible on either side of the blade touching the puck. Darryl belfry has a great video highlighting this (see below). Darryl calls the cradling  “rolling the puck out the back”. See video below.

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  • “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”. Soft and smooth hands translate to the highest levels. Yes having quick hands are very important no question but working on smooth dribbles instead of choppy quick dribbles will make a huge difference in your game. As you become proficient with slower and smooth dribbles you can work your way up to over speed dribbles. Just make sure that when you are practicing over speed that there is a reason behind each move.
  • Don’t just dribble a million miles an hour for no reason, make sure there is an obstacle or purpose. You want to use fakes to move sticks and bodies to create space. Use moves tactically.
  • Loose upper body. If you don’t allow yourself to have a loose upper body it will be very tough to make plays. You want to have loose and slippery shoulders. You can use shoulders fakes to add to deception as well as slip by defenders by changing the angle of your upper body. You see the pros do this all of the time. If you are having trouble with this, make sure you are controlling your breathing. A lot of players work themselves up and are tight due to nerves, controlling your breathing will help you get your heart rate down and loosen the upper body.
  • Use head fakes! I always tell my players to think like you’re a running back in football. Use shoulder and head fakes to be more deceptive with the puck. Just dribbling alone won’t get it done, make defenders bite on head and shoulder fakes. It will without question increase your deception on the ice.
  • Head And Eyes Up. It’s imperative that you become comfortable stick handling and making all plays with your head and eyes up. This will allow you to make the best play possible with the puck. So once you feel comfortable with the key techniques you should practice with your head and eyes up at all times.

Here Are Some Great Drills To Improve Stick Handling At Home Or At The Rink.

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