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Although “skating is the name of the game”, puckhandling has always come a close second to me…
Number One, a player’s ability to handle the puck — with the eyes up and under any conditions — makes him or her a better passer (make sense?). And the better puckhandlers more often corral bad passes than do not-so-good ones. Then, of course, good puckhandling skills also help the player beat more defenders and finish more plays around the opponent’s goal.
Secondly — and I was mentioning this to a few parents at my hockey school the other night… I honestly believe that puck skills help a young player who isn’t yet strong on his or her skates. And my explanation to this is actually a two-parter…
You see, working with a puck tends to force a player to move his or feet (a whole lot more than when he or she is without the puck). A puck-carrying youngster will strive to out-skate others, and he or she is often forced to move a lot because a puck frequently squirts off just outside his or her reach.
A few successes with the puck also encourage a kid to work harder on his or her skating. Oh, he or she might not like that idea, at least initially. However, I’ve seen lots of youngsters score a few goals and then admit, “I think I’m going to have to work on my skating to be an even better player!”
Finally, there is nothing like a success or two to excite a young player and get him or her dying to return to the rink (or to even work at home with a puck or ball). Yes, feeling good about oneself has a way of snowballing. And, nothing — at least to me — gets that snowball rolling faster than some successes with the puck.
Speaking of Puckhandling…
I have an awesome training course available over in the Hockey Tips & Tricks STORE for Digital Products. The 16 drills I prescribe are easy to do anywhere — at home, on a roller court or on the ice. And, despite those drills being very simple, I promise that mastering these key skills will help anyone very quickly demonstrate “Incredible Stickhandling” moves! (There’s also a cool promo video I think you’ll enjoy!)