There are situations when a coach will set aside time at the beginning or end of a practice to allow players to work on individual skills and have fun. What do you do when that opportunity presents itself? Do you hit the showers early? Shoot pucks off the glass or boards? Do an extra set of Herbies? Too many players don’t take advantage of a less-structured environment and use it to improve their game.
This is a great time to work on a new move. Patrick Kane didn’t just pull those spin-o-rama moves out of thin air. He worked on them in practice until he was confident that he could execute them in a game. This is your chance to be creative, try something new and come up with your own signature move or moves.
Get with a teammate and practice passing and receiving the puck on the forehand and backhand. Start in a stationary position 25 feet apart and work on tape-to-tape passes. After a few minutes, start passing while skating forward and backward, and then move on to passing while skating in a circle.
Take this opportunity to practice your shot. Shooting off either foot, from your knees, from different angles. Get with a teammate and have him or her pass you the puck. Work on catching and shooting the puck in one fluid motion. This is a great time to work on one-timers.
Small games can be played anytime, anywhere. Play 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 keep away. These games allow you to practice puck protection, passing skills, defensive tactics and getting open. Plus they are a lot of fun.
You may have heard this before but the ice is the best teacher. Many players from northern parts of the country used to hone their skills on frozen ponds and lakes in their communities. Today’s game is far more structured, with ice time in high demand. So when your coach gives you the gift of free time on the ice, don’t waste it. This is a great opportunity to improve your game.