Stick skills, especially dazzling stick handling moves, are mesmerizing to players and parents alike. They are fun to watch and downright exhilarating to pull off first hand. That’s why it’s really no surprise every kid wants to be the superstar who dangles through three opponents and scores the game winning goal.
Many stick handling drills not only help players pull off fun moves, they also play a critical role in helping improve less heralded but key skills like controlling the puck and receiving passes in unusual positions. Here are a few drills to try out at home that can develop your silky mitts and sick dangles at the same time.
Just like all skills, there is a certain technique players need to learn in order to maximize their potential with the puck on their stick. One of the most important pieces is rolling the wrists and cupping the blade instead of stick handling by moving your arms. Practicing basic stick handling moves while using a golf ball can reinforce that technique and develop soft hands.
The Figure 8 incorporates a number of skills into one drill. The primary focus is on controlling the puck and having players learn to use all parts of their stick blade. It also works on expansion of reach to both sides and toe drags (which all players love). Click here to watch the video.
Another technique focused drill is to utilize a PVC pipe or paper towel roll while stick handling. As the video shows, this forces players to slide their bottom hand up and down the stick depending on how close the ball is to their body, which is critical to maintaining puck control.
NHLers have made this type of drill famous with various YouTube videos, and it really is a great way to develop a variety of stick skills. Have players try it on- and off-ice with all kinds of different obstacles. Then, sit back and watch the creativity!
If you’re looking for a couple ideas that will test players’ athleticism as well as their stick skills, consider having them run stick handling drills while hopping on one leg or doing this toe-tap drill with a soccer ball. The difficulty of coordinating so many skills at once is great for developing their hand-eye coordination and an ability to adjust to random situations.