Ways to ‘Put up Better Numbers’
Posted on July 27, 2022
During the summer, I often chat with players on and off the ice. Coaching is relationship development, after all. I received a bevvy of questions from a player last week (Adam from Western), and after discussing everything from the Q Draft to what hair product Stammer puts in his hair during warm-up (kidding on the last one), the best of the bunch was “point production – how do players improve on that?” Here we go.
Tip 1 – Track rebounds in practices. If you’re working in small groups, coaches usually give players more time in-between reps which allows for rebound tracking without someone coming in directly behind you. If you miss the net, track the puck and think about what your next action will be once you get there, as you are going there. Think 1-2 steps ahead!
Tip 2 – Go to the dirty areas. The dirty areas being the net front, where there’s usually someone there to be rude to you. Get in the goalies visual pathway and try and get a stick on every puck shot from the point. Practice this!
Tip 3 – Win battles in the dirty areas. Small area games make for great practice here. Learn about leverage and how to use your butt, arms, and body to create enough separation to get a shot off in tight space.
Tip 4 – Shoot the puck more vs trying to thread the needle. How many times – on a 2v1 – do we try and make the sauce pass to the back door when the D is shading pass? How many times do we pass out of a scoring area to a player’s backhand? Don’t be afraid to sell a pass with your eyes and let one hang. Sometimes the best shooting location is exactly where you’re standing. Taking 5 steps down into the house where all the traffic is might seem ideal, but will likely be taken away by the time you get there. Catch ‘n release.
Tip 5 – Play other Sports. Honestly, learning how to bunt a baseball was huge for my development as a hockey player because the fundamentals of bunting can transfer over into in-air deflections of a hockey puck. It’s hand-eye co-ordination. You’re letting the puck meet the blade. Think about it.
Tip 6 – THE MOST IMPORTANT – DON’T THINK ABOUT POINTS! Points are like some form of ‘hockey karma’ .. if you have good karma, good things (points) will often come your way. How does one obtain such good hockey karma? Back-checking with purpose. Hustling to create takeaways. Playing below the puck as a C in the D zone vs looking for that ‘chip and go’ situation where you end up above the puck and in the wrong spot if things break down. Changing at the right time. Blocking shots (extra karma points). Being accountable (yeah, that off-centre pass could have been picked up by you). Being prepared (watching tape, studying the opposition, knowing/executing your assignments/breakouts/face-offs/set plays). There’s a million other things I can put here to boost the hockey karma. When you start cheating on the wrong side of the puck, jumping up into the play as a D when it’s ‘not on’ as my friend PJ Power would say, and reaching in to try and create offence = negative karma points.