Tag: Offense

Five Breakout Plays Every Hockey Player Should Know

hockey-winger-breakout

As a hockey coach and a player I am always trying to become smarter, better, and faster. What some players don’t realize is that by knowing your position and knowing your plays you will become a “faster” player. A positionally sound hockey player could be physically slower than every player on the ice, but by being in the right spot and making the right plays he could still have an advantage over the fastest player on the ice.

Recently I have been reading the book Hockey plays and strategies (Amazon.ca link for Canadians) by Ryan Walter and Mike Johnston and I have found a lot of great plays, strategies and tactics that are important for any hockey player to know. The trick with putting these plays into practice is having your other team mates on the same page as you, so in this article I am going to go over 5 breakout plays, how to perform them, and the best time to use each one. These plays are started by the defensive partners, so as long as you and your defensive partners know the plays you should have no problem initiating a decent breakout. These plays are crucial for a good breakout!

Knowing these 5 breakouts should give you an option in every situation you face on the ice, no more giving the puck away over and over until the other team scores!

5 Easy Breakout Strategies

These strategies are explained in the book Hockey plays and Strategies by Ryan Walter and Mike Johnston, I have re-drawn the diagrams as shown in the book and explained the breakouts in a similar fashion as they were printed in the book.

Up – Hockey Breakout

In this breakout D1 is moving for the puck and D2 has an eye on the play. D2 will call “UP” to D1 letting him know that the best play is to turn up the strong side of the ice and pass the puck to the winger on the boards (LW). If the winger is tied up while D1 is moving with the puck the centermen is there for support and D1 can also make the pass to C.

The best time to use this breakout is when the other team has players near the net, or behind the net (or moving to that zone) and the best option is to move the puck right away up the strong side of the ice.

C is there for support (another option for D1) and RW will move across the ice to provide support once LW get’s the puck.

OVER – Hockey Breakout

In this situation D1 has moved to pick up the puck, while D2 is reading the other teams position. D2 recognizes that the other team has flooded one side of the ice so he calls “OVER” to D1. This tells D1 that the best play is to pass the puck behind the net to D2 (A direct pass is ideal, but a bank pass can be made as well)

Caution: In this play it is important that D1 makes the pass quickly to D2, some players may try to skate with the puck towards D2 before making the pass, however this would carry the pressure over to D2’s side and could result in a turnover.

The best time to use this breakout is when the other team has flooded D1’s side of the ice and D2 can quickly move to get a pass behind the net.

WHEEL – Hockey Breakout

In this situation D1 is moving for the puck (or has the puck) and he has a step on the forechecker. D2 yells “WHEEL” to tell D1 to skate with the puck around the net. D2 should stay in position as a “pick” so that the forechecker can not easily cut across the top of the crease and check D1 on the other side. D1 should use the net as a screen by cutting close to net while skating behind it (not giving the forechecker room to check him, or get a step). D2 holds position in front of the net until D1 makes a pass, or skates the puck up ice. RW provides an option for a pass, C supports low giving D1 another option for a pass, LW moves across the ice.

The best time to use this breakout is when D1 has some speed, and the other team does not have pressure down low.

Reverse – Hockey Breakout

The Reverse is a good “plan-b” for the WHEEL breakout. In this situation D1 has started to skate the puck behind then net, however their is a forechecker right behind him and checking hard. D2 yells “REVERSE” signalling D1 to bank the puck hard off the boards (and behind the forechecker) to D2

C gives support by moving with D1, and then back low through the slot after the reverse pass is made, LW moves inside initially (anticipating the pass to RW) but then moves back to the boards when the reverse pass is made to receive a breakout pass, RW moves to prepare for the UP pass, however when the reverse pass is made he moves across the ice to support the breakout.

D2 can pass to LW or C

The best time to use this breakout is when D1 initiates a WHEEL breakout, but cannot complete it due to a quick forechecker right on his tail.

RIM – Hockey Breakout

The RIM breakout is used when the other team is forechecking hard and the best option is to send the puck hard around the boards to the winger. D1 gets the puck and quickly rims it around the boards to RW. C supports from underneath while LW moves across the ice to support.

“Against teams who pinch down with their defense on rimmed pucks, the wingers who receive the rim must be able to protect the puck, control it, and then move it to support. In this situation, RW must be able to control the puck and make a play, skate with the puck, or chip it behind the pinching defenseman. As mentioned earlier, the ability to get pucks off the boards under pressure is a skill that also involves a component of toughness” – Ryan Walter & Mike Johnston

Caution: D1 and D2 need to be on the same page here so either D1 or D2 should call “RIM” otherwise either defencemen could confuse the breakout with the OVER play.

Jeremy’s note: As a coach I prefer to see direct passes, many newer players will ALWAYS rim the puck as it is the easiest way to send it up the ice. Usually it’s laziness so I try to encourage my players to make smart plays and direct passes, although as mentioned in the book, sometimes the RIM breakout could be the best play.

If you learned anything from these breakouts I highly recommend picking up the book, I have links at the top and bottom of this article.

How to start implementing these breakouts

As a coach implementing these breakouts comes down to proper practice planning, and getting all the guys on your team on the right page. You can pick up a copy of the book, photocopy pages 10,11 and 12 and hand them out to your players, and then start using them during practice. Once you have the book you can review the other 200 pages for some more great plays and strategies

As a player there is nothing more frustrating than trying to play positional hockey, only to have the other guys on your team completely out of place, or moving the puck to the wrong spot. The easiest way to start using these breakouts would be for the defensemen to start talking and discussing the 5 different breakouts while on the bench. Try using 1 or 2 each game so you can eventually commit them all to memory. Once you and your partner knows the 5 different calls you can start yelling them out when the time is right during the games. Most of the work for the breakouts is done by D1 and D2 so start by getting your defensive partner on board, and then work on the forwards, most wingers should know where to be anyways.

 Quick Tips For Breaking Out

  • Take a look before you get the puck so you know where your players are

  • Don’t make blind passes
  • Don’t pass the puck through the middle (unless you are 1000% sure, and even then be double sure)
  • Make plays quickly – hesitating gives the other team time to read your play and break it up
  • Make direct passes – get your head up, look where you are passing, and send it hard
  • Communicate (especially defensemen), call out the plays described above
  • Play your positions! – This is especially true for the wingers, if you are down near the goal line when the defence get the puck they will have no one to pass too!
  • If you have the puck and it doesn’t look like you have any options for passing, put the puck high off the glass to get it out of your zone
  • Keep your feet moving and your head up (Don’t stand still) – The play is always moving and you should be too, keep your feet moving and your head up so you can read and react to the play at any time
  • Give your player a target – This is a good one for wingers, when you are breaking out put the blade of your stick where the defense can see it (as shown in the picture, he doesn’t have his stick on his shooting side, or in front, he’s moved it to the right side to receive a pass). By showing them your blade you are giving them a target and letting them know you are ready for the pass.

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The Role of a Winger in Hockey

right wing hockey

There are two wingers in hockey, right wing, and left wing. Both wing men, as well as the centermen are referred to as forwards. The forwards are offensively minded and will score the majority of your teams goals. As a winger you will mostly play on your side of the ice, right wing will play up and down the right side of the ice (to the right of the centermen at faceoff) and the left wing will play on the left side.

The responsibilities of a winger

Your general duties as a wingman are to dig in the corner, feed the centermen and defence, wreak havoc in front of the other teams net, and outsmart the other teams defensemen on both ends of the rink. I will explain more below

A wingers duties and positioning in the defensive zone wingers Responsibilities in hockey

The defensive zone is your teams end of the ice (the side where your goalie is in net) When you are playing in the defensive zone your team is trying to get the puck out (break out) and get into the offensive zone (the other teams end of the ice). When you are in the defensive zone you should generally stay between the blue line and the hash marks. You want to stay in that area for a few reasons:

  • To stop the other teams defensemen from getting the puck and getting a shot on your goalie.
  • To get a break out pass from your own team member
  • To block shots or passes if the other teams defensemen does have the puck.
  • To intercept passes and break out.

Video Tips on Defensive Zone Coverage For Wingers

This video was created by Kevin at HockeyShare.com, thanks for the awesome tips! Most wingers start just trying to cover the defense. As you get older and more skilled you can come down further and further like shown in the video.

What is your job in the Defensive zone?

The role of a winger in hockeyWhen you are in the defensive zone it is your job to cover the other teams defensemen. When the other team has the puck you should keep a close eye on the defensemen as some times they will sneak in front of you, or move over to the center. When you are in the defensive zone the defensemen is your man, but it is also your job to accept passes from your own team members. You typically stay between the hash marks and the top of the circle. You will come up to the blue line when challenging the defence.

If your team has the puck there are a few ways to get the pass. The easiest way to get a pass is to take a few quick strides forward and take a pass at the hash marks along the boards, now your job is to break out. The safest way to break out of your end is to bank a pass off of the boards to your center men who should be breaking out, or if the defensemen is right against the boards you can gently redirect the puck to your centermen, or your winger who should be cutting to center (Always look before passing because the last thing you want to do is give a one timer to the other teams defence!). Another option is to carry the puck out yourself, don’t try anything to fancy because if you mess up and the other team scores it will be very embarrassing.

How to break the puck out of the defensive zone

One of the biggest responsibilities of the winger in the defensive zone is breaking the puck out. Usually you will be taking a pass from the defencemen and it is then up to you to receive the pass, control the puck and either break out with it, or make a quick pass to your centremen or other winger. Playing the puck off the boards and making yourself available to receive that pass from the defencemen is VERY important. Here is a great video from HockeyUS.com that explains how you can become more effective when breaking out of the defensive zone

A wingers duties in the offensive zone

When you are in the offensive zone your team is trying to score a goal. You will mainly play in the corner, inside the circle, and in front of the net. When the puck goes into your corner it is your job to get it out. If the puck is in your corner you have a few options, the most common and usually the best options are.

  • Carry the puck out and get a shot on net (your centermen or other winger should be there for a rebound).
  • Look for a man in front of the net and set him up with a pass
  • Look to see if the D is open, if so give them the puck.
  • Carry the puck up the boards a bit and cycle it back. Cycling the puck may be a bit advanced, so we will cover that in another article

Sometimes when the puck is in your corner the other teams defence will get there first, as it is their job to get the puck out. If this happens you can try to take the puck from them, or tie them up and wait for your centermen to help you out. A good trick is to put your knee between their legs and press them up against the boards, this makes it hard for them to move the puck.

If the puck is in the other corner then you have a few new jobs. When the puck is in the other corner you can.

  • Go to the net and look for a pass from the winger
  • If your winger looks like he is going to be tied up you could skate behind the net and call for a pass
  • If it looks like the other team may get the puck you could skate to the hash marks and try to cover a man / take away a pass.
  • If the other team does clear the puck being closer to the blue line makes it easier to back check.
  • Do not go into the other wingers corner unless you have learned a special drill in practice that calls for this. If your winger is in trouble, it is the job of the centermen to help him out.

Wingers duties in the Neutral Zone

Typically in the neutral zone you are either breaking out, or back checking. If you are on the attack you make hard passes through the neutral zone and feed the head man. This means if you get the puck out of your end you should be looking for a streaking centermen or your other winger. If there are no options try to break into their end, and if that is not an option just cross the red line and dump the puck in (then chase it, or get a line change). If your team mate has the puck and you are breaking out skate for open ice and try to get that lead pass.

If the other team has the puck in the neutral zone you are playing defense. You should be hustling to get back into position and get the puck from them / cause a turnover. Keep an eye on who has the puck, and where they might be skating to or who they might be passing to. If you see a potential passing lane try to block it.

I like to always think of the ice as lanes, lanes for them to skate and lanes for them to pass. I am always looking at the guy with the puck and thinking “what are his lanes, what are his options” I try to get in their lanes and take away options.

What about the faceoff? faceoff in hockey

For a winger you also have a role on the faceoff. When you faceoff you will be facing off against the other team. When you are on the face off both teams want the puck, but only one team can have it. This means your role during the face off is to either get the puck, or stop the other team from getting it. Talk to your centermen before the faceoff because he usually has a devious plan as to what he is going to do with the puck. Most face offs involve winning the puck back to the defensemen, when this happens your job is to tie up your man so your defensemen has time to make a play. Sometimes the centermen will pole the puck forward and have you pick it up with speed, or the centremen could tie up the other centermen and have you get the puck. This means you have to explode off of the hash mark and go right for the face off circle.

A wingers responsibilities on the power play

A power play means that the other team is playing with one less man on the ice. Your position does not change during the power play unless you have a set play with your team. When the other team is down a man they will play with two defensemen and two forwards, this means that on the faceoff there will one open spot. This means if you are on the open wing, and the centremen wins the faceoff to you, you will have some time to skate with the puck and set up a play.

Wingers duties on the penalty kill

When your team gets a penalty there will be one less man on the ice. This means that on the faceoff you need to pick a side to faceoff on. The proper side to faceoff on is the side closest to the center of the ice. If you were to faceoff on the side closest to the boards then the side closest to the center would be wide open, and give the other team more of an advantage if they win the faceoff.

When you are on the penalty kill you should think of your position more like another centermen. If the puck goes into the offensive zone either you or the centremen will go in after the puck, only one man should go deep into the offensive zone, while the other hangs back near the blue line.

Penalty Kill in HockeyWhen the puck is in the defensive zone most teams play in a box formation, this means your two defensemen will play down low, and the centermen and the winger play up high. The idea is your formation will look like a box, and you want to keep the other team outside of the box, and take away any passing or shooting opportunities.

If you have any other tips for positioning for forwards you can add them below. I will be adding positioning for the centermen and defence soon.

The Role of a Centerman

Want to read more about hockey positioning? Check out our article for the role of a centerman

Photo Credit: Thumbnail – Dan4th Nicholas, Breakout – U16 Panthers, Faceoff – Michael Erhardsson, Penalty Kill – C Stein

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Weighted Hockey Stick Drills

stickhandling tip

In my last post I showed you how to make a weighted hockey stick, now I will show you what you can do with it. Stickhandling is a very important skill to master if you want to be a great hockey player. There are many ways that you can improve your stickhandling and in this article I will show you the benefits of using a weighted hockey stick, and how to make your own weighted stick.

The benefits of practicing with a weighted hockey stick

Bench PressWhen you practice with a weighted hockey stick you will be working all of the muscles involved in  stickhandling BEYOND the point they are typically worked when you normally stickhandle. This is great because you will be building sport specific muscles, and training them beyond the level that they would normally develop. Here is a great analogy, if you bench press 150 pounds every day, then your muscles will plateau and only be able to lift 150 pounds. If you continue to push your muscles and eventually bench 300 pounds, then when you go back and lift 150 pounds, it will feel VERY light.

The same concept applies to stickhandling, if you only use a regular stick and puck, your muscles will learn the motions, but they will not be as quick as they could be. If you train with a weighted hockey stick for a while and then go back to using a regular stick you will be able to move the puck a lot faster.

What about the muscles

Another great benefit of using a weighted stick is the muscles you will build. When you practice your stickhandling with a weighted stick you will be building your wrists, forearms, bicep and triceps, pecs and core muscles. These muscles are involved in shooting and stickhandling and your core muscles will help with balance and stability, as well as shooting and stickhandling.

How to practice stickhandling with a weighted hockey stick

You should practice moving the puck all around you, just like you normally would. I like to train in segments, this is my typical session with my weighted stick.

  •  Stickhandling with the puck in front of me
    • stickhandling tipTwo minutes stickhandling the puck in front of me, moving the puck wide to the left and to the right
    • One minute stickhandling the puck in close, moving the puck quickly side to side, about one to two foot distance
    • One minute with the puck in front of me, I move it as far as I can on my backhand, then reach with one hand and pull the puck back in
    • Toss in a few toe drags, and moving the puck forwards and backwards
  • Stickhandling on my shooting side
    • Two minutes moving the puck as far forwards and backwards as I can
    • One minute of toe drags, and moving the puck side to side
    • One minute moving the puck as far forwards as I can, reaching with one hand and pullingWeighted hockey stick drills it back
  • Stickhandling on my backhand side
    • Two minutes practicing back and forth, and side to side on my backhand side, also practice moving the puck from your backhand side to your forehand side
  •  Stickhandling with the puck behind me
    • Four minutes with the puck behind me. I practice reaching around to the right and stickhandling, and then reaching around to the left and stickhandling, also moving the puck from behind me to in front of me. This is a great way to twist, and work the core muscles

Take Your Time

I take short breaks when I need them, you can come up with your own routine, and be sure to change up the weight, duration, speed and intensity of each session. After doing training with a weighted hockey stick I noticed a HUGE improvement in my stickhandling. The two main benefits I noticed was that I could move the puck a lot faster, and I was also a lot stronger on the puck. I have also made this video to show you some of the moves that I practice

Weighted Hockey Stick Drills

I hope these tips have helped, but remember reading this information will not make you a better hockey player PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

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How To Make A Weighted Hockey Stick

hockey stick weight

Many hockey players are looking for new ways to improve their stickhandling. One stickhandling tip that I found REALLY helps is using a weighted hockey stick. There are a lot of products on the market like hockey stick weights, and even just plain heavy hockey sticks, but I found a great way to make your own weighted hockey stick with a few things around the house (or stuff you can get at garage sales)

This is a trick that Pavel Datsyuk used when he was younger and I bet a handful of other NHL hockey players have used this stickhandling trick as well. Before I go into any more detail, I will show you how to make your own weighted hockey stick.

What you Needwhat you need to make a weighted hockey stick

In order to make your own weighted hockey stick you will need an old hockey stick, some hockey tape, two hockey pucks, and a dumbell.

Start by taking the two hockey pucks and put them on either side of the hockey stick (a hockey stick sandwhich!)

You want the pucks a few inches above where the blade meets the shaft. The reason you want to do this is to stop the dumbell from sliding all the way down the shaft and interfering with your stickhandling.

Put a good amount of hockey tape around the pucks, and especially around the bottom of the pucks, so that the pucks do not slide down your shaft.

Now all you need to do is grab the dumbell and slide it down the shaft of the stick. There you go, you have just made your own weighted hockey stick, now of course you are going to want to use it. I have heard of a lot of pro hockey players who have done this, and I noticed a HUGE difference after a few weeks of using a weighted stick.

I have made a video with some drills you can do and also written an article. I hope this helps you with your stickhandling, check out my weighted hockey stick drills article to see what the benefits of using a weighted hockey stick are!

Here is a video I made that shows how to make a weighted hockey stick, in case you don’t like to read!

Weighted Hockey Stick Video

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How to Snipe Top Shelf on Your Backhand

hockeyBackhandThumb

Backhand Shot Tips

This article shows you how to take a backhand when you are close to the net, I also recommend my article and video on how to take a backhand shot, where I show the most powerful method that should be used when further from the net.

Not being able to put your backhand shot in the top shelf is a problem that many players have, but few realize. Most hockey players tend to focus on their wrist shot or slapshot because these are the two most commonly used shots in hockey, but how often do you really use your backhand shot? I bet you would use it a lot more if you could snipe top shelf every time. For this reason I decided to write a tutorial detailing how you can use your backhand to put the puck right where momma keeps the cookies.

Raising Your Backhand Close to the Net

I like to think that there are two types of backhand shots in hockey, the first type you would use when you are further away from the net, and would like a lot of power on your shot. I have detailed how to take this type of shot in my article How to take a powerful backhand shot. Now that you have read that article you should learn how to get the puck up quick when you are close to the net.  Practicing getting the puck up quick is important for a number of reasons

  1. Many goalies utilize butterfly style goaltending. This means the goaltender can quickly and easily cover the bottom of the net. In order to score on a good butterfly style goaltender you will need to be able to lift the puck quickly, at least over the goalies pad.
  2. A quick, powerful backhand shot, up high can be very deceptive as many goalies will not expect a backhand shot to be flying for the topshelf.
  3. Many times players waste time moving the puck to their forehand to shoot (giving the goalie time to set up to make the save), because they are not comfortable with their backhand. Other players just whack at the puck and drive it right into the goalie because they have not mastered their back hand shot.
  4. The main reason you should practice sniping top shelf on your backhand…You WILL score more goals

I hope these points will convince you to take some time and work on getting your backhand shot up quick. You may be thinking “ok I get it! Get to the backhand tips already” I will do you one better. I went out and made a video for you! I find seeing it makes learning a lot easier, but if you have a thing against watching videos feel free to read the tips below the video.

Hockey Backhand Shot Video

How to Raise Your Backhand in Hockey

When you are close to the net, power is not as important as height. You want to get the puck up quick, fast, and in a hurry. Follow the steps below to snipe topshelf

  • Start with the puck forwards in your stance
    • By having the puck forward in your stance you can get a better angle on the puck. You want to make the blade of your stick like a wedge, get under the puck, and almost shovel it up top.This picture shows the stance to shoot a the puck high from the backhand
  • Location of the puck on the blade
    • In this shot the location of the puck is not crucial, somewhere close to the center of the blade is fine, but do not worry to much about it.
  • Get some momentum
    • If you have to fire the puck off quick, just get low, wedge it up, and pull up hard to put power on the shot. If you have some time it helps to get the puck moving towards the blade first. Tap the puck towards you quickly then wedge your blade under the puck and pull up quickly
  • Get low to the ice
    • The idea of this shot is to get under the puck, then scoop it up high. Bend over a bit at the hip to help you get lower. The reason you want to get low is because you want to wedge the puck up high. To get even more of a wedge on your blade you can drop your top hand (the one holding the top of the stick) lower to the ice.Get low when trying to put a backhand shot up high in hockey
  • Lead with your bottom hand
    • When the puck is on the blade of your stick use your bottom hand to pull up hard on the middle of the shaft, while pushing down with your top hand.
  • Follow through
    • Follow through is very important, the puck will be on the blade of your stick right until the end, so you must continue to guide the puck right into the top of the net.Backhand follow through in Hockey

By reading this article you should have a few good ideas of how to put the puck top shelf on your backhand. First you get the knowledge, then you get the experience, so go..now…PRACTICE!

I have summed everything up in the picture below.

Hockey Backhand Shot

How to take a backhand shot in Hockey

In the first picture you can see the puck is forward in my stance. I am tapping the puck away from the net to get some momentum towards the blade of my stick. In the next frame I get behind the puck to “catch it” and get it on the blade of my stick. In the next frame you can see the puck actually on the blade of my stick, and I am pulling it hard to the top of the net. The key is the follow through and to guide the puck top shelf. In the last picture you can see I have put the puck top shelf.

Once you perfect this shot let me know in the comments 😀

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Stickhandling Tips that Every Hockey Player Should Know

stickhandling-fundamentals

How to Stickhandle

Stickhandling is very important in hockey, many young players may think they know how to stickhandle, but you may be surprised what you are doing wrong!

I used to think I was pretty good with the puck, I could get around players, I could deke and I could score goals. I lived by this notion until I was about 16 years old, and wanted to score even more. I started looking around for information about stickhandling and deking. I started studying the best stickhandlers in the NHL and I began to realize something, I could be a lot better. Don’t make the same mistakes I did, learn the proper way from the start. This article will help you learn the proper way to stickhandle, and how you can control the puck in any situation

Stickhandling Basics

When most players practice stickhandling they practice with the puck in front of them and moving the puck back and forth. For beginning players this is fine, you need to get a feel for the puck, and practice stickhandling with your head up. But when you get older, or better at hockey you should practice a lot more. When you first start stickhandling practice moving the puck back and forth. Lift your head and just feel the puck, see what it feels like on your forehand, on your backhand, near the toe of the blade, near the heel of your blade. Get to know these feelings, by registering those feelings in your brain you will improve a lot at keeping your head up and not losing the puck as much. But there is more to stickhandling than moving the puck back and forth….

This is the proper way to hold the stick when you are stickhandling

You can see in the left picture that my top hand is to the side of my body. This reduces range of motion, the proper way to hold the stick is how I am holding the stick on the right. This allows free movement of the stick around the entire body

The Golden Rule of Stickhandling

Many players think that stickhandling is moving the puck back and forth, this is wrong. When you practice stickhandling you should practice controlling the puck every where you can reach with your hockey stick. This means moving the puck side to side AND forwards and backwards, in front of you, on both sides of you, and even behind you. Practice this as soon as you can and as often as you can. Not only will you be able to stickhandle through heavy traffic, and around a lot more players, you will also be able to recover the puck more often when it is knocked off of your stick, and you will also be able to receive more passes.

How to practice stickhandling

You can see here that I am practicing controlling the puck within the furthest reach in every direction. Every hockey player should practice this in order to have full control of the puck whenever it is close to them

If you can control the puck around your entire body you will not have to slow down and wait for a pass, you will be able to reach back, tap the puck forwards and take off. Stickhandling around your entire body will give you a huge advantage over other players who only practice stickhandling in front of them, and you will be able to stickhandle around a lot more players.

Practice your Reach

This is very important in stickhandling. A lot of players keep their top hand (the hand on the top of the stick) by their side, this is very restricting and gives you a limited range of motion when stickhandling. The proper way to hold the stick is with your top hand in front of you, this allows you to move your stick (and the puck) all the way around your body. Practice moving the puck as far as you can to the right, and then bringing it back, and then moving it as far as you can to the left and then bringing it back. For even more reach practice let go of the stick with your bottom hand when you are reaching to your backhand side.

Practicing reach in hockey

You can see here how much ice I can cover, simply by moving the puck from one side to the other. Having this knowledge can help a hockey player in many situations

Practice the Toe Drag

The toe drag is such a powerful move in hockey, you would be crazy not to master it. How often have you seen NHL players embarrass NHL defensemen with a ridiculous toe drag? It happens quite a bit,  I have attached a video of a nice toe drag by Michael Ryder .

If players can use this move on NHL defensemen and get away with it, then once you master it you should be able to use it to get around your opponents. For more information on the toe drag see my article and video How to Do a Toe Drag

Hockey Toedrag

Here I am practicing a toe drag around another puck. There are many different types of toe drags which I will cover in another article

Take it to the Ice

Now that you have practiced stickhandling and mastered controlling the puck around your entire body you are ready to take it to the ice. Keep in mind you should always be practicing your stickhandling and deking, but try to leave the moves you have not mastered yet to the practice, and only use moves you have mastered during games (especially playoff games)

Always Move the Puck

This is a good general rule, by moving the puck you are always prepared to make a deke or move on the opponent, and the opponent will always be thinking about what you are going to do next. Moving the puck is also known as dribling (moving the puck back and forth quickly) There are dekes that require you to keep the puck stationairy (like the bait and switch, will add article soon) but for the most part you should always be moving the puck.

Use Your Body

Stickhandling should not just be arms, stick and puck. Use your entire body in the process. Your body is a great tool to block other players from getting the puck (see protect the puck below) Your body can also be a good tool in deking, remember to use your head, shoulders and legs. Here’s a quick breakdown for you – Use your head for fakes, shift your head left or right when you deke left and right with the puck. Use your shoulder for fakes, you can dip your shoulder left or right when you deke left or right. Use your feet for dekes – You can incorporate your feet in any number of dekes, you can drop the puck back to your skates and then kick it back, pull the puck behind you, then pull it in between your skates and kick it forwards.  You can even use your legs for fakes, think about when you fake a shot on the goalie, if you lift your one leg as if you are transferring weight you can really sell the fake. (I will upload a sweet goal by Teemu Selanne where he does this)

Stickhandling Tips Video

This video explains how a player should be able to control the puck and shows a few quick drills you can use to practice being a better stickhandler

How to Get Around the Defense

For more on this check out my deke of the week videos – A good way to beat most defensemen is to beat them with speed. Instead of skating up to them, or waiting for them to come to you and then deking them, just blow past them with your speed.

When skating around the opposing players puck location is very important. Many players will skate with the puck in front of them all the time. To get an advantage over the opponent you should position the puck on the side furthest from the opposing player while stickhandling. This means if the opposing players are on the right side, move the puck to your left side and skate around them.

Another way to deceive the defense is to make them think that they can get the puck from you. For example, say the defense is in front of you and on the right hand side. If I move the puck to the left side to soon then the better defencemen will move with the puck and stop me. Sometimes I will stickhandle with the puck so it appears the defencemen will easily be able to get it off of me (if the defence is on the right side, I stickhandle on the right side). I skate full tilt towards them, so they think all they have to do is knock the puck off my stick. I then quickly move the puck as far to the left side as I can, while turning, or crossing over to the left side, this gives me about a 15-20 foot difference between where the puck was, to where it currently is, and lots of room to skate around the defence.

Protect the Puck

Remember when driving to the net, or trying to push around another player that you should protect the puck. You protect the puck by putting your body in between the other player and the puck. Another good trick is to hold your hockey stick with one hand, and use the other hand to block the opposition from getting the puck off of you. I will add more tips on how to protect the puck soon (man I have so much information I still need to add!)

Well those are all of my stickhandling tips for now. If you have any tips of your own that you would like to add feel free to add them in the comment section below.

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How To Take A Wrist Shot

wrist shot

How to Take a wrist shot in hockey

The basic wrist shot

Improving Wrist Shot power

Improving Wrist Shot Release

For more tips on shooting I recommend the building blocks of shooting video series which I include on the shooting resource page.

This article focuses on how to take a wrist shot. I believe it is important to master technique and accuracy before working on power. I will be adding an article on how to improve wrist shot power soon. I have bought a radar gun and will test every possible way to increase wrist shot power through technique and I will also be adding workouts and training, I will post the article after extensive testing and research. For now though lets focus on the basics

Wrist Shot Tips

This article will outline how to take a wrist shot in hockey, or if you already know how to take a wrist shot, it may provide you with some tips on how to improve your wrist shot.

  • Puck Location
      • When taking a wrist shot the puck should be drawn back behind or even with your back leg (wherever you feel most comfortable), think of it as throwing a ball, in order to get more power, you want to pull it back so you can get a lot of power. You can raise a puck off of the ice without pulling the puck back, however pulling the puck back gives your wrist shot a lot more power.

  • Location of Puck on the Blade of the Stick
      • In order to take a wrist shot the puck should be between the heel and middle of the blade. While you are executing the wrist shot the puck will roll forwards toward the toe of your stick. This will give the puck a spin, and also allow you to aim where you want to shoot.

    wrist shot heel of blade

  • Location of your Hands
      • When shooting your top hand should be holding the top of the stick, and your lower hand should be no more than half way down your stick, many players hand position differs and your hand position will vary depending on different types of wrist shots (close to the net, cutting in, angle, etc..). Some guides say to have your hands about twelve to fifteen inches apart, but this depends on how old (and tall) you are. A good guide is to touch your elbow of the bottom hand to your top hand and then grab the stick. You don’t want your hand any higher than that.

     

    Where to hold hands when taking wrist shot

    In this picture my bottom hand is close to the middle of the shaft. Anywhere between the middle and 3/4 of the way down is fine, and the position changes depending on where you are shooting from and the angle you are shooting from.

    How to take a Wrist Shot Video

    In this video I take you through the steps of the first type of wrist shot you should learn. When taking a wrist shot you can transfer your weight onto the foot closest to the blade of your stick, or the one furthest from the blade of your stick. You get the most power if you transfer the weight to the foot furthest from the blade, so that is the technique I show below. (other method shown below the video)

    Now that you have watched the How to take a wristshot video check out shooting from the “off foot” below, the points about weight transfer and stick flex are the same for both methods of the shot

    Wrist Shot From the Off Foot

    There are two types of wrist shots, the method below shows you how to shoot from the off foot, you should practice both methods. You can see my article and video for more info on the two types of wrist shots.

    • Weight Transfer
        • When you begin to take the shot most of your weight or power should be on your front leg, while taking the wrist shot you should move even more weight to your front leg, and push off with your back and front leg, thus putting more power and energy into your wrist shot.
      Preperation for wrist shot, and weight transfer

      This picture is taken just before I start to shoot. You can see I am leaning over and forward a bit. I am just about to push off with my back leg. Using your legs is a great way to add more power and energy into your shot.

    • Stick Flex
        • Some people do not know that the stick actually adds a lot of speed and power to your shot. When you are shooting if you lean into the shot you will load the stick, putting energy into the shaft, which is then transferred to the puck when you release your shot.
      flex of stick in wrist shot

      You can see the amount of flex that is on my stick, mid shot. This flex adds a lot of power to your shot. When that flex (potential energy) is released, it will launch the puck at the net. You can generate a lot of flex on your stick by buying a stick with appropriate flex (depends on your weight and size), leaning into your shot, and building the muscles involved in taking a wrist shot. Right now I am pushing hard with my bottom hand, while pulling back with my top hand, the puck generates resistance on the bottom of the stick which results in the shaft flexing.

    • Follow Through
        • Your follow through is very important, when you follow through you are essentialy aiming where the puck is going. A good follow through also ensures that you are getting full power from your wrist shot. By continuing to push through with your shot you will keep the puck on the blade of your stick longer, thus transfering more energy onto the puck, and building more speed on your shot. Practice a good hard shot, along with a powerful follow through. When you are following through you should roll your wrists over, and point at where you want the puck to go. After shooting it should look like you are looking down the scope of a rifle

      You can see I have completed the wrist shot and this is the follow through. I shot high, and I am looking down the shaft of the stick at where I was aiming. My leg is up in the air because I put all of my weight onto my front leg. I pushed off with my back and front legs to drive more energy into my shot.

    • How to execute the Wrist Shot
        • To take the wrist shot have the puck drawn back, your hands in the proper position, and the puck near the heel of the blade of the stick. When you are properly set up begin to take the wrist shot, pull the puck towards the net with the blade of the stick. When the puck has moved a bit on the ice, you want to pull with your top hand, while pushing with your bottom hand, this generates flex on the stick and lifts the puck off of the ice. While the puck is off the ice and on the blade of your stick you will want to roll, or flick your wrist in order to get full power from the shot, and also get more accuracy from your wrist shot.  You should point the toe of the blade of the stick at where you are shooting, and follow through. Learning to take a wrist shot can feel very awkward as it is an unnatural movement for the human body. When explained in words it sounds very complicated, however once you learn how to do it, you will never forget! A good way to learn the basics is to start with a light puck, once you have the basic motion and muscle memory of how to take a wrist shot, then try with a normal puck.
      Wrist shot

      In this wrist shot I had my bottom hand a bit higher on the shaft of the stick. You can see I had the puck near the heel of my skate to start, pushed off with my back leg to transfer my weight into the shot, shot the puck and followed through.

      Wrist Shot

    I hope you enjoyed this article, how to take a wrist shot. I will be adding more articles, pictures and videos regularly. You can subscribe to my posts using the box to your left, or an RSS reader if you would like helpful hockey tips on a regular basis. I have also included a video to show you exactly what to do.

    Wrist Shot Video for Beginners

    In this video I show you every step involved in taking a wrist shot.

    How to Take a Wrist Shot From Your off-foot

    In the video below I show you how to take a wrist shot from your off foot.

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7 Traits Every Pure Goal Scorer Possesses

Hockey Slap shot

Throughout the history of the NHL there have been many pure goal scorers. From Maurice “Rocket” Richard to Alexander Ovechkin and everyone in between, all of these goal scorers have striking similarities that you can practice and implement on the ice. Even players who are naturally gifted with the ability to score goals still have to practice and train to be a true great goal scorer. Below I have listed six traits that every pure goal scorer possesses. By learning these traits you can practice at home and hopefully score more goals!

Yes there are more than 7 traits, some common traits would be speed, power, agility, shooting the puck and accuracy which every player should strive to achieve. This list details traits that really set goal scorers apart from others.

  • Quick Release
    • A quick release is very important if you want to score a lot of goals.  Pavel Bure and many other goal scorers were famous for having a quick release. Many great goal scorers were able to streak down the ice and put the puck in the back of the net in the blink of an eye. The longer you take to shoot the puck the more time the goalie has to prepare and stop your shot. If you can hammer off a one timer, or shoot the puck from an awkward angle when the goalie is not expecting it you will definitely increase the amount of goals you score.
    • A great way to practice a quick release is to practice shooting the puck mid stride. Many players break their stride, pull the puck back, and then shoot. If you can fire a shot as you come full speed towards the net, many times the goalie will be wondering what that black streak was that went right by him into the net.
    • Another great skill to practice is your forehand to backhand transition. If you can quickly move the puck from your forehand to your backhand (faster than the goalie can move from one side of the net to the other) you will be able to net a lot more goals.
  • Great Goal Scorers go to the Net
    • I can not count how many goals I scored hustling to the net (when a team mate had the puck) on two on ones. If you can come across the blue line with speed and hustle to the net, the defensemen has less time to think. If he lets you go then your team mate can pass you the puck and you crank it in the net. If the defensemen does cover you, it gives your team mate an open shot and you have a chance to get the rebound. Teemu Selanne was known for going to the net hard and almost always popping in the perfect saucer pass that Paul Kariya would send his way. If you have the time you can watch a video that I attached to the bottom of this post. The video show’s Selanne and Kariya highlights, and a few examples of Selanne going to the net, and Kariya setting him up.
    • Once you are in front of the net, stay there. I used to love to cause mayhem in front of the net. It would distract the goalie and keep the defensemen busy. When you are in front of the net you can deflect shots, screen shots for your team mates, and pick up rebounds. Tim Kerr was well known for his play in front of the net and managed to bank four 50+ goal seasons in a row in the NHL back in the 80’s
  • Get Open
    • It is going to be hard to get a pass if you are covered. Don’t stand still – When you are in front of the net or anywhere on the ice do not let the defencemen tie you up, move around, try to get open. In fact try to never stand still while you are on the ice, it is harder to get to full speed if you are stopped.
    • Hustle – This is part of getting open, in hockey you have to hustle, never give up on the puck and work for every goal. Some of the best goals ever scored are desperate acts or players that never gave up. If you take a shot on goal, drive to the net and get your own rebound.
  • Hockey Sense
    • Great Hockey players have “hockey sense” Hockey sense is the ability to read plays and create plays. Do not turn your brain off when you are on the ice. If you are always chasing the puck you will just get tired, instead you should be thinking where is the puck going. This allows you to be one step ahead of the other team, and also in the right spot to get that sought after break away pass!
    • Wayne Gretzky was well known for his hockey sense, he had a feel for a game, he knew where every player was and where they were going. This not only helps you get goals by being in the right spot to get a pass, but also makes you a great playmaker.
  • Pass
    • Nobody likes a puck hog! While great goal scorers do have great hands there are always great passing opportunities and many great goal scorers are also great play makers. If you pass the puck to your players you are likely to get a pass back (As long as you get open and in position) Passing allows the game to move faster and you can create more opportunities for yourself, and your team mates to score. If you are covered by another player, you can pass to your team mate, shake the opposition and get into position for a pass.
    • Give and goes are great ways to score goals, just watch some rock’em sock’em hockey videos and you will see all kinds of amazing give and goes and tic tac toe plays
  • Creativity
    • Being creative on the ice is very important if you want to be a great goal scorer. If you pull the same moves over and over than you will be an easy nut to crack. The best goal scorers can beat the defense and goalies repeatedly with new moves.
    • Think of the first time Bure came in on the goalie from the left side, dropped the puck back to his skates, kicked it back up to his stick and then popped it in the net. Sure he could have just shot the puck, but being creative is what makes great goal scorers score great goals.
    • What about the first time Jagr dropped the puck and his stick backwards between his legs and shot the puck top shelf, this is a creative move that allowed him to score in what most would think is an impossible scoring situation.
    • What about the first time when a Boston university player went behind the net, scooped the puck up on the blade of his stick, and then lacrosse style put the puck top shelf (latter repeated by Crosby in the QMJHL)
    • These are the types of plays you can practice on the ice, maybe you will not do them in a game, but if you practice all sorts of ways to manipulate the puck than you will be that much better at stickhandling the puck normaly.
  • Good Goal Scorers Can Get in The Goalies Head
    • Good goal scorers are able to predict the actions of the defense and goal tenders. Knowing what a goalie is going to do, or how a goalie is going to react is key in scoring more goals.
    • Joe Sakic demonstrated this a number of times when he would be at a bad angle, move to the center, and then shoot for the post on the side he just came from. Sakic knows that goalies must cover their angles, on a bad angle shot the goalie will hug the post so Sakic would move towards the center to pull the goalie off the post, and then shoot for the opening that was just created. Getting in the goalies head, and knowing how goalies are trained and think is a great way to score more goals.

 

Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya Highlights

Bonus point – PRACTICE, nobody ever made it to the NHL or beacame a great player by wishing it would happen. In order to score goals you must practice your shot in order to improve your power and accuracy.

I am also including a few tips from a coach on the OMHA forum that I am a member of.

  • Practice shooting alot, better shooters score more.
  • Take the puck as close to the net as possible, your odds are greater the closer you are to the goal line.
  • Shoot when you have high percentage ranges and angles, pass when your teammates have them. Players who shoot from inpossible angles get the occasional goal, players who pass when at impossible angles get lots of assists (and often more goals as their linemates will reciprocate).
  • Battle to win your position in the slot. Rebounds are the best source of goals for those tough enough to get them.

I hope these tips will help you score more goals through out your life. Learning tips like these helped me improve my game quite a bit and I want to help others improve as well. If you have any tips of your own then feel free to leave them in the comments section.

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5 Tips That Will Make You A Better Goal Scorer

5 Tips That Will Help You Score More Goals This Season

One thing every player, coach and parent likes is more goals. Every hockey player loves to score goals, especially in clinch situations like the playoffs and overtime. The moments that are created when a hockey player scores a game changing, or game winning goal are the moments that will last a life time. This is why it is important to learn how to score goals. Practicing your shooting and stick handling is a great way to score more goals, however by learning new tricks and techniques you will be able to learn faster and improve faster. This is why it is important to not only practice hockey, but also research and learn how to be better at hockey, and that is why I wrote this article, to help you become a better hockey player. So here is the list I have compiled

  • Shoot the Puck
    • This is nothing new but still a point that should be driven home. It is no coincidence that 10 out of the 10 forwards in the NHL with the most shots ever all have over 600 goals. Don’t try to make every goal a pretty one, every goal counts whether it is a beautiful dangle or a fluke shot that goes in. If you see a shot, take it. Even if you don’t score your team mates can pick up rebounds making more scoring opportunities.
  • Be Creative
    • Shoot for different spot, you don’t have to shoot top shelf every time, if you do the goalie will be expecting this and your shot will be even easier to stop. Do something different, I found (a little to late) that a lot of good goalies love to make glove saves, you make them really mad when you slide a hard, low shot right in one of the bottom corners. Goalies expect good players to score flashy goals, try taking a quick shot down low, some goalies cannot get into the butterfly quick enough to stop it.
    • Shoot five hole – This is great if you are in close and the goalie does not have time to close his legs in time, when you are in close and you see the legs open hammer the puck through.
  • Know the Goalie
    • Watching the goalie can be a great advantage to you and your team. When I was younger I would take a minute (or ask my coach or parent) to watch the other teams goalie during the warm up. The other teams goaltender will be trying to stop a lot of shots, so if you see where most of them go in then you know the goalies weak spots and you can shoot there during the game. Also a lot of the players on the other team will know their goalies weak spot and shoot for it during warm-up because they like to score goals even in the warm up.
  • Read Your Players
    • Knowing your team mates is a great way to get more goals. If you know when to go to the net, when to set up for a give and go, and when to hang back for a drop pass you will definitely get more scoring opportunities.
    • Use your brain – Hockey is a team sport, don’t just go out on the ice and turn your brain off. You should ALWAYS be thinking when you play, believe it or not if you make an effort to think, you will get more goals thinking about where you should be, where your team mates are going, where the puck is going, and how the goalie will react, will help you make decisions that will lead to more goals.
  • Don’t Telegraph Your Shot
    • I think this is one of the most important tips to know and practice. Many players, without knowing it, tell the goalie or defensemen exactly when they are going to shoot, or deke, or pass. Good goalies pick up on these subtle (sometimes not so subtle) hints allowing them to stop your shot, robbing you of more goals. Here are some tips that will help keep the goalie thinking
    • Don’t approach the net with the puck in front of you. If you are on a breakaway and you have the puck in front of you then the goalie will know you are going to deke, once you bring the puck to your shooting side then the goalie knows you are going to shoot. If you come in on the goalie stickhandling on your shooting side you can deke, pass, drop pass, or shoot. Giving the goalie more to think about
    • Don’t break your stride. Here is a neat little trick that many pure goal scorers possess. A lot of players come in skating, pause, draw the puck back, and then shoot. You can still score goals like this, but it gives the goalie that much more time to react. The best goal scorers can put the puck in the back of the net before the goalie can blink, this is because they do not break their stride when they skate (I will have a video demonstrating this later)
    • Try not to stare at where you are shooting. Believe it or not goalies will notice this. Take a look at where you are shooting, but don’t make it really obvious, many times this is why backhand shots go in. The player and the goalie do not know where it is going!

I hope these tips will help you score more goals in hockey. Keep an eye out for my next article called – 5 Traits Every Pure Goal Scorer Possesses. If you would like to get more articles like this when I post them you can enter your email address in the box to the left. You will get tips like this sent right to your inbox whenever they are posted on the site.

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How to Deke in Hockey

how to deke in hockey

If you are reading this article then it is likely that you play hockey. Well I’m here to help; we will get right to the point. We will first look at deking out the opposing team members. Every player should know how to deke, however many players do not deke properly. This article shows the fundamentals of deking a player or goalie.

The first rule is that you should always be moving the puck. Think of it as dribbling in basketball. Basketball players continuously dribble the ball in order to keep their opposing team members thinking about what they will do next. Hockey players should also continuously stick handle the puck so that the players on the other team cannot simply skate up and knock the puck off of your stick.

I’m sure you have watched some players walk around their opponents and you wonder “how do they do that?” well there are four steps that you must know in order to properly execute a deke.

The first step is the preparation.

You must prepare yourself before you can execute a deke. Where you put the puck is dependant upon which move you would like to make. If you are trying to just skate around your opponent then a general rule is that you should protect the puck by stick handling it on the side furthest from your opponent. However If I want to deke my opponent out then I try to trick them into thinking that they are going to be able to get the puck off of me, and dangle the puck right in front of them and wait for them to make a move.

The second step in a deke is the fake or the move.

After you have the puck and the other player right where you want them it is time to make your move. There is an unlimited number of moves that you can make at this point. You must trick the other player or fake him out with this move. Some common moves are putting the puck through the other players legs, putting the puck under the other players stick, or pulling the puck to the other side of your body. One move that I like is putting the puck right in front of the other player, and then when they try to knock the puck off of my stick, I simply pull it away and skate by them.

The third step to a deke is the separation.

After you have made your move, you must separate yourself from the other player. A general hockey rule is that you should protect the puck. After you have made your move try not to stick handle the puck near the opposing player, move it to a safe place. You can use your body to protect the puck by stick handling it on whichever side of your body is the furthest from the opposing player.

The fourth and final step to a deke is acceleration.

Once you have completed steps one through three you are ready for the fourth and final step. For this step you simply must accelerate. You must accelerate in order to get away from the person that you just deked out. Once you have deked out the last player you will be facing the goalie.

Check out my next article on how to score to find out how to put the biscuit in the basket.

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How to Score more Goals in Hockey

Do you freeze up on breakaways? Do you want to score more goals in Hockey? Read this article to learn what to do to score more goals in hockey!

If you have read my article on how to deke, you are now ready to learn how to beat the goalie. This may be easier said than done, but there are some tips that will be helpful.

First you must know the golden rule. If you are on a breakaway or a one on one with the goalie, you shouldn’t stick handle with the puck directly in front of you. If you stick handle with the puck directly in front of you the goalie knows that you are not going to shoot because there are only 2 things you can do; deke left, or deke right. In order for you to shoot you must move the puck to your side.

When on a breakaway the proper place to have the puck is on your stick side. If you are right handed then you should be stick handling the puck on your right side. If you have the puck on your stick side than you can shoot, pass, make a drop pass or deke. This will keep the goalie thinking about what you are going to do next.

Where to shoot?

You are alone with the goalie and don’t know what to do. Well the first thing you should do is look for an opening. The best places to look are the corners, and the five-hole (between the legs). Most goalies are expecting you to deke, or shoot for the top corners when you are on a breakaway. Many times you can trick the goalie by just sliding the puck by the goalie with a quick low shot to the bottom left or right corners.

A good goalie will usually know his angles and will not give you a lot of places to shoot at. If you are facing a good goalie then you will not have a lot of openings, so you will have to make your own.

You can make a place to shoot at by making the goalie move. If you want to make the goalie move then you must deke, or move the puck. The goalie is trained to line up with the puck, so when you move the puck the goalie also moves. When the goalie moves it creates openings, usually between the legs, under the arms and around the insides of the posts. With a little practice you will learn where to shoot when you deke left, and where to shoot when you deke right.

Watch the goalie. One of the best moves to do on any goalie is a fake shot. When you fake a shot most goalies will be tricked and either go down, or at the least move a little bit. This gives you a chance to look for new openings and shoot for them. A move that works most of the time is to stick handle on your shooting side. If you shoot right than you will be stick handling on your right side. When you are within 15 to 20 feet from the net fake a shot to the right side of the net (push the puck towards the goalie as if you are going to shoot it). You then stop the puck with the back hand side of the blade, move the puck to your forehand and pull it to the left side of the net. In most cases when you fake the shot the goalie will go down, then all you have to do is pull the puck over to the opposite side of the net and raise it up over the goalies pad with a quick backhand shot.

There  are many other moves that can be done on a goalie, if I get good reviews on this article then I will write about some more moves that can be done.

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