April 6, 2012 Leave a comment
One of the unique aspects of hockey is the “third person” dynamic of controlling a puck with a stick. The athlete has to manipulate an object using another tool at all times. The best hockey players in the world understand that the stick should be used as an extension of the body and that the blade of the stick has a different viewpoint than the eyes of the player. This is what makes understanding your stick and the position of your stick so important.
Offensively, the stick should be used as a way to create options that may not otherwise exist and the game should be seen through the “eyes of the stick.” When I am skating, my stick has a different angle and position relative to the puck and the net than I do. This is an advantage that offensive players have. A smart player realizes that while they might not have a good angle to shoot from, the blade of their stick might have a clean look at the back of the net. The same goes for passing lanes. Players can use their sticks to create passing lanes that wouldn’t otherwise exist. I might be covered, but I can use my stick to present an option for my teammate.
On the defensive side of the puck, stick positioning may be one of the most important concepts in the game. The player applying immediate pressure on the puck carrier must be conscious to play “stick on puck” – that is, using their stick to apply direct pressure near the puck. This often forces a turnover or a miscue by the offensive player. The defenders away from the puck need to use their sticks to close off passing lanes and limit offensive opportunities in the event of a breakdown. Playing off the puck requires you to use both your body and your stick to eliminate passing lanes and cover other attacking players.
Understanding the proper way to use your stick can help you become a more efficient and thorough defensive player, as well as an astute playmaker and goalscorer.