Eureka! How to execute proper hockey turns immediately!

Hey Hockey Fans,

I have been racking my brain for years with this one and I finally figured it out in the last few weeks with the help of some of my students (special thanks to Grayson and Maxim!).  Here is what I discovered:

 

The Issue

I noticed that the majority of new hockey players could not turn properly.  What do I mean by “properly”?  Well, they could turn both ways but quite often they had friction in their turns on one or both sides.  A proper hockey turn doesn’t have any friction as you roll onto your outside edge and glide through your turns.  However, I couldn’t figure out why so many people had trouble with this.  I also was discouraged as a coach as I couldn’t help them improve this with a couple lessons.

 

The Plan

After talking with many different experts in the field of physiotherapy and tons of different drills I had my students perform, I shifted my focus to what I thought was the root cause; ankle mobility.  I noticed that my students would not roll their ankles enough to activate their outside edge and thus created friction through their turns, so I wanted to address this first.  My plan started out with just a few simple little exercises in order to improve and strengthen ankle mobility.  I had students rolling their ankles, balancing on each of their edges, and a few drills on the treadmill to get the feel for this.  I did this with several students ranging in ages from 6 to 13 and could typically pack this into a single lesson.  My thinking was, if I can get them more comfortable on their outside edges, there was a good chance that they could improve their turns.

 

The Results

The improvements were noticeable and incredible.  I couldn’t believe my eyes watching a player who minutes earlier could not turn properly, all of a sudden performing perfectly smooth hockey turns.  I had a couple long time students suddenly finally conquer this area, which was not only gratifying for them, but also for me as the coach.  The amazing part also is that they had trouble with their turns for a long time and with just a few exercises, the results were noticeable.  With a focus on this for their next few lessons, results look to be long term and now they can advance to more complicated drills (turning with a puck, heel to heel turns, etc.).

 

One of the things I love about working with kids is how quickly they learn and adapt.  It is really amazing to watch the progress of a student from their first lesson to their fifth, tenth, and so on.  Another great thing I learned through this is that the answers are always out there, you just have to keep trying different things until you get the result you are after.  I think that you are never done improving your skills as a player, but you should keep in mind that sometimes you have to come back to the fundamental skills to ensure that you are building on a strong foundation.

 

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The Top 3 Secrets of Joe Thornton

Hi Hockey Fans,

The San Jose Sharks dodged elimination in a tight game Saturday night. One of the main contributors to their success was their former Captain, Joe Thornton.  Joe had 2 assists in the 3-2 overtime win.  At 36, he is still one of the best players in the game and the Sharks playoff success has shown how much of a contributor he can be.

Many people had written off Jumbo Joe similar to Crosby this season. Jumbo Joe responded by finishing fourth in league scoring (second in league assists).  He was even added to Team Canada for the World Cup just recently based on his playoff performance.  Joe is one of the best passers in the league, but that’s not all that makes him one of the NHL’s best:

  1. Vision – when I was looking for highlights of Joe Thornton’s best passes, I came across a video entitled “The Pass II.”  This clip shows Thornton in the corner, throw a no-look backhand pass into the slot, right onto the tape of a streaking Logan Couture.  I constantly marvel watching Thornton play and find him teammates and make passes that even as a viewer, are hard for me to see.  Joe thinks the game at an elite level and his vision really helps set him apart from many of the other players in the league.

  1. Passing Accuracy – having hockey vision is a great asset to have, but in order to use it effectively, passing accuracy is another vital skill.  Jumbo Joe accompanies his great vision with the ability to thread great passes (both soft and hard passes) right on his teammates stick.  This goal that he assisted shows him fire a 50 foot saucer pass, right to Tomas Hertl, who quickly transitions in front of the net and slips the puck in the net.  You can find countless examples of this as Jumbo Joe typically ranks in the top 5 in assists perennially.

  1. Puck Battles – Joe may not have the best speed in the league, but he makes up for it with his ability to get the puck and keep it.  He is able to use his reach to poke it away from other players and his large frame to keep it away from fore-checkers.  Here’s an example of where he uses his reach to create a turnover and then quickly throws it into the goalie’s feet for a goal.  Jumbo Joe often has the puck on his stick and it’s his ability to win battles that allows him to control the game and create offense for his team.  He also has a knack for winning face-offs when he’s playing centre.

Joe continues to amaze me night in and night out with his play.  Make sure that you take notice when Jumbo Joe is on the ice!

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us!

And as always, if you need any hockey tips, drop me a line!

thornton

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The Top 3 Secrets of Sidney Crosby

Hi Hockey Fans,

The Stanley Cup finals start tonight in Pittsburgh and Crosby will try to lead the Penguins to their fourth Stanley Cup in their team history and his second championship.

At the beginning of the season, many people were writing off Crosby due to a slow start.  However, he turned it around and third in the NHL in scoring.  Crosby is an amazing hockey player, but here’s what really differentiates him from other great players:

1.  Quick release – I talk about how important this is in today’s fast paced game.  Goaltenders are so quick and technically sound these days, so the only way you are going to beat them is with speed and precision.  This goal that Crosby scored in the first round against the Rangers shows his amazing release.  The puck is in the net before the goalie even moves his glove!

2.  Explosiveness – Sid the Kid is known for having some of the most powerful legs in the league.  As you saw in this goal against Tampa Bay in the third round, he picked up a puck in the neutral zone and shot through the Tampa Bay defenders like a bullet (plus he finishes it off with that quick release again).  This again goes hand in hand with the speed of the game.  You need to be able to create separation from defenders and get time and space in order to make plays.  The bumps and sticks just bounce off of him due to his sheer speed and power!

3.  Hockey sense – ok, it isn’t much of a secret that Sidney is one of the most cerebral players in the league.  However, it is his decision making that we can watch and learn from.  In this case, he’s on another breakaway in the second round against the Capitals (seems to be a common theme here).  However, unlike the 2 clips above where he decides to shoot, he identifies that Holtby is very far out of his net which takes away the amount of net to shoot at.  Crosby recognizes this and he freezes the goalie by holding the puck in his shooting stance and then makes a stickhandle to his backhand.  With the goaltender playing so far out, deking is the best option as there is lots of open space if you can get around the goalie.  Crosby pops the puck in with style and wins the game in overtime with a great goal.

There are plenty other things that Crosby does extremely well (watch him on faceoffs if you want to improve that part of your game), but these are a few of the areas where he excels.  We all have different strengths, but the key is to make sure you put yourself in situations where you can use them to help your team win.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us!

And as always, if you need any hockey tips, drop me a line!

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