One of the most important skills in youth hockey is, unfortunately, also one of the most overlooked. That all-important skill is stick handling. Fortunately, with just a few minutes of devoted practice a few times a week or, even every day, any young athlete can get infinitely better at stick handling. This is especially true if the athlete is willing to try these simple drills.
Practice Stick Handling During Warm-Ups
This first one isn’t really a drill as much as it’s a way to get in some extra stick handling practice with any type of exercise a hockey player does. This “drill” is to practice stick handling while doing a dynamic warmup. The best types of warmup exercises for simultaneous stick handling practice include lunges, jumping jacks, and squats. This is a great way to get used to effectively handling the stick while doing other exercises and moves that are similar to those done in a real hockey game.
Try the Toe Tap
Another fun stick handling drill to try is the toe tap drill. This drill is really great for helping players learn to better control their bodies and to multi-task at the same time. To do this exercise, the player will need to grab a soccer ball and start tapping it alternately with the balls of his feet. Once used to this motion, the player should add in stick handling with the head looking up, not down at the feet.
This drill can be a little tricky at first, but as players get used to it, their ability to do more than one thing at a time will greatly improve, as will their overall stick handling.
Go for the Stick Flip
One final drill to try is the “stick flip.” The player does this by laying a stick in front of him and grabbing a tennis ball, a hacky sack, or another small ball. The player should then roll the ball in front of his body, flipping it over the stick, and catching it on the other side. This drill, like the one above, will take some practice to master, but that’s the point! The more the player does it, the better he will get at developing a soft touch and at stick handling in general.
As you can see, there are lots of great and easy ways for hockey players to improve their stick handling. Give these a try, and you should see big improvements before you know it!