Most of a player’s ability level with having a puck on their stick is derived from that player’s confidence.
In considering what elements actually make up this confidence we have developed framework to build confidence in all aspects of puck control, passing and shooting. We have broken this down into 5 areas which all have real game applications at their foundation.
5 focus Areas:
Movement with the Puck – How many times in a game do you as a parent/coach either verbally say or internally think…”MOVE YOUR FEET” when a player gets the puck on their stick?
During the course of a game being able to automatically receive the puck and get your feet moving has several benefits. Foot movement makes a player harder to check, opens up passing/shooting options and helps positional draw your opponents out of their system.
Small Areas – Lets face it the rink isn’t getting any bigger in North America but the game is getting faster. If you were to look up puck possession statistics and compare those to winning percentage statistics you should not be surprised to find out there is a pretty clear correlation.
Winning the small area battles and scrums doesn’t only benefit a team in the offensive zone but negates opponent’s opportunities in the defensive zone as well. Being able to think fast, protect the puck, make simple plays to safe areas and be aware of your teammates support is easy in theory. With the addition of the opposing team putting pressure on the puck means being able to make good decisions in small areas is a skill only learned through proper controlled repetition and coaching.
Shot Choice/Release – First picture yourself with the golden net front opportunity to score. When you look at the net to take your shot did you see the goalie or the net that was open around the goalie? Our vision drives us to focus on what is closest to us (the goalie) and blurs the background (net) unless we are trained or consciously do the opposite.
Now that you can see the mesh around the goalie and pick you spot to shoot you are ready…. or are you? BE THE PUCK….. what your eyes see and what the puck sees certainly will be different. Truth be told, you have to now use a bit of your imagination to try and be the eyes for the puck and understand what mesh that puck sees in the net.
Simply getting the puck on the net in many cases helps to create opportunities to score but also for rebounds around the net. With an understanding of the above concepts, the ability to quickly get shots to the net and using proper release can quickly aid in goal production.
Tape to Tape – Not very often in a game to you stand face to face with a teammate and pass forehand to forehand. The basics of passing have their introductory benefits however we will be using every opportunity to make puck movement as game like as possible.
Putting a game type visual on all elements will help players visualize its application and recognize its use when actually in a game.
Cause and Effect – Using all the above Knowledge we can then grow each players game awareness and help them understand where openings often are on ice as well as how they can create openings.
Whether this be staying on the defensive side of puck to make yourself a pass option in your defensive zone, battling in any area on the ice or pushing off net front to the slot to get open for a catch and release pass.
If you want opportunities to skate with the puck, make plays, win battles or score a goal you must understand how to get that puck on your stick as well and have the confidence once you do get the puck.