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No Hockey? No Problem: Hockey at Home #1

As many of you probably already learned, there actually is a lot that a young player can to do improve his or her game even when there is no access to ice or an ice rink.

But it’s never quite the same using a ball in your basement to stickhandle or trying to shoot pucks off the concrete in your driveway. Nonetheless, any amount of time a player can spend shooting pucks and keeping the hockey reflexes and muscles sharp and conditioned is valuable this time of year, especially given the circumstances we are currently facing.

So, here are some tips and links that hopefully can help make your off-ice hockey training a little more fun, a little easier and maybe even a little more effective.

 

Regain Your Feel for the Stick and Puck

Grab your gloves and sick – maybe your helmet to make things a little more realistic if you want – and find some flat ground. If you have a puck and a shooting or stickhandling board, that’s great. If not, any kind of ball that rolls smoothly and has some weight to it will do the job. 

Thick plastic stickhandling balls are perfect, but not required. Lacrosse balls will work great as will field hockey balls or even baseballs. Even one of those thick plastic pucks with rollers can work. If the ball or puck is a little heavier than a normal puck you might even get a little more of a wrist or forearm workout out of it. If the only option you have that will work is something that is lighter than a hockey puck, that will have to do, but you really want something with some mass to it so it will feel more like a puck on your stick. Even a regulation golf ball can do the trick if it’s the only thing you have.  

For now, let’s just spend 15-20 minutes a day stickhandling while remaining pretty much stationary. You can start moving around more and working on more complicated movements as you regain the feel for the puck. Watch TV while you stickhandle if you can to make yourself look up and to get a feel for the puck on your stick without having to look down at it. It’s okay to lose the puck and screw up. Keep your head up and keep trying. We don’t get better by doing things we are good at, we get better by trying things that are outside our comfort zone and failing sometimes.

We’ve done the homework for you. There are many creative, fun and effective ways to practice and improve your stickhandling listed among the links at the bottom of this article.

 

Shoot for the Stars

One thing you can never do enough is shoot the puck, and you don’t need ice to work on your shot. If you have a goal and a surface to shoot off of or a driveway, get some pucks and get after it. And if you don’t have a goal, maybe you can hang or tie a tarp or sheet onto a fence so that you won’t destroy it, paint a goal or some targets on it and have at it.

The more pucks you have the better, but if you only have a few, that works, too. Chase them down every time you shoot and sprint back with them to turn it into a little conditioning drill. For right now, again to get back in the swing of things, try to shoot 200 pucks a day, incorporating every type of shot – wrist shot, slap shot, snap shot and backhand – into your workout. Shoot 100 as hard as you possibly can and 100 for accuracy. Develop a point system for hitting certain spots and try every day to break your record. 

If you’re feeling ambitious, maybe shoot 100 of each type of shot or just shoot until your hands and forearms are so tired that you can’t shoot anymore to build strength.

Among the links below you will find a 5,000-puck shooting challenge that can guide you along your path, but don’t be afraid to creative and create your own challenges and games and try to improve your scores every time out.

 

$12 Shooting & Stickhandling Board

We all know that it doesn’t feel quite right using a cheap stick that isn’t your normal game model to practice shooting and stickhandling at home. And, of course, no one wants to destroy their favorite $200 or $300 gamer by shooting pucks off concrete. 

What is the answer? A shooting or stickhandling board, of course. Unfortunately, those often cost as much as the sticks you don’t want to ruin. Shooting boards essentially are blocks of white, coated hardboard that are slick enough to allow for stickhandling and shooting on a surface that is a reasonable simulation of actual ice and that won’t destroy your favorite stick.

A quick glance at this site reveals that there are several sizes of shooting boards ranging in price from $39.99 to $99.99 plus shipping:

CLICK HERE

The problem with these boards is that the small boards just don’t allow a player to do much more than use them as a launching pad, while the larger ones just don’t seem worth the price.

The answer?

 $12 Eucatile 4’ x 8’ white hardboard from Home Depot.

That’s right, $12 for basically the same size and material that the website above is selling as a shooting board for $99. It’s not quite as thick, but will do the job. And if you wear it out, another $12 is better than $100-plus. Even if it doesn’t last as long, at a fraction of the price, it’s well worth having to replace it a few times. In addition, you can apply some WD-40 silicone spray to make it feel even more like real ice.

Total cost of the board and silicone spray? $16.

Once you get your board set up, you’ll need some pucks. If they are in stock, you can purchase 50 from Golden Sport Amazon and have them delivered in about three days. They are very affordable at under $60 including shipping. CLICK HERE for the link.

Once you have the board and the pucks, then what?

 

Hockey at Home Links

 

 

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