In my opinion, stick handling may be the skill you can enhance the most during this time. It doesn’t matter if you have a fancy and designated stick handling station in your house, or if you’re only able to get outside on the front street or in the driveway. As long as you have a hockey stick and something to use as a ball or puck, you can pretty much stick handle anywhere! Use hockey balls, baseballs, golf balls, tennis balls, Swedish balls, small rocks. If it bounces around, who cares? Make it as random and unpredictable as you can.
Simulate drills you’d usually do on the ice. Stick handle with only your top hand then practice it with only your bottom hand. Get creative and make up new drills. If it gets too easy, stare at something straight in front of you while stick handling. Then practice looking up and side to side. If you don’t have an Attack Triangle, deke around the legs of a table or chair, lean an old stick on the chair to create the attack triangle, or learn how to build your own here. This will bring the highly underrated skill of repeatedly picking up your stick into action as well.
Another way to practice that skill as well keep your hands moving fast is to have pucks close together with a long stick on top. The Sweet Hands is fantastic, or you can make your own if you have an old stick to cut up and a bunch of pucks to spare. Stack two to three pucks and tape the shaft of the stick on top. Here's another DIY option that's made using 2 x 4's.
Instead of cones, use pucks, shoes, hats or anything that can remain stationary and give you a visual target to work around. Practice your soft hands by flipping the ball or puck up over them to where you can maintain position once it hits on the other side and not have to chase it down the street. These soft little flips will be advantageous at the right time in a game.
With all of the drills listed above, find ways to practice using your feet. Every time you make a lap around a cone, throw the puck into your feet to practice your skate-to-stick skills. Be sure to use the inside and outside of your feet as well. Being able to maintain control of the puck with your feet can be an essential part of puck possession.
If you have the room, tie it all together and move around. This is something that gets lost in fold and is absolutely crucial. Stick handling impressively in one spot is great but if you can’t do it heading up ice on a rush or while making a move from the half wall, it’s not going to matter. Practice attacking with speed. Run up and down the driveway or street while maintaining control and keeping your head up. Find every object you can and do the Patrick Kane stick handling drill!
When it comes to practicing your stick handling, you don’t need to over think it or have fancy equipment. Having the proper skill and technique is crucial but so is being creative. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and see what you’re capable of doing!
Dan Minnicks is the owner of Apex Performance Integration in the Pittsburgh area. At API, he works with professional to youth athletes, and all levels in between. Dan has coached athletes in the NHL and MLB as well as a U.S. Adult National Figure Skating Gold Medalist. In addition to working with a wide range of adult clientele, Dan is also honored and proud to work with members of various branches within the United States Military and Law Enforcement. Whether it's athletes or adults, he is passionate about helping those who settle for nothing but the best for themselves.