Improving Your Game Off the Ice: 5 Home Drills for Better Stick HandlingDec 18, 2023
In hockey, stick handling is one of the few skills that you can improve no matter the season and with very little equipment.
All you need are these hockey stick handling drills to bring your game to the next level!
So read on for descriptions of each drill and how they build your muscle memory to turn your stick into a natural addition to your play!
Set-Up Your Training Ground
If you want to bring your training to the next level, you could also get some of Polyglide's synthetic ice tiles to imitate that icy feel.
Once you’ve picked your equipment, follow these steps to tape a grid on the ground:
- Standing in the center of your goal, take three large steps forward
- Place a horizontal line of tape that measures about eight to nine feet in length on the ground
- Standing on this line, as close to the center as possible, assume your hockey power stance
- Place two vertical lines of tape where your feet rest, measuring about 10 to 12 feet
- The vertical lines should cross the horizontal one with equal length on either side
- Now rub a puck over all the lines to make sure they're properly stuck to the floor
With this grid, you’ll have a personalized breakdown of your puck control zones for you to complete the following stick handling drills!
Beginner Stick Handling Drills
1. Dribble Switch Drill
A good coach understands that hockey stick handling drills should build on each other. Working from the ground up to create muscle memory movements that you can use in any and every situation.
The Dribble switch drill is no different. With just a few simple puck movements, this drill will train your ability to switch from backhand to front-hand. Ensuring you’re comfortable using every part of your stick to maneuver the puck anywhere around your body.
To complete this stick handling drill, follow these steps:
- Stand in your power stance position on the grid
- Bring the puck to the center of the front grid
- Dribble the puck from backhand to forehand
- Bring it down and across with the face of your stick to the edge of the horizontal line
- Complete another dribble before carrying back to the front grid
- Dribble the puck in front, then use your backhand to bring the puck to the opposite side
- Dribble the puck and then bring it back to front
Start this drill slowly and build up speed as you become more comfortable with it. You can also switch up when you bring the puck over to your backhand side to improve your muscle memory.
If you’d prefer to follow detailed videos, be sure to sign up for our Foundational and Elite Training Modules on the Online Hockey Training program!
2. 360 Toe-Heel Drill
One of the most important parts of stick handling is the ability to regain control of the puck no matter how many times people try to steal it from you. And that’s the skill that this stick handling drill is building!
To master your space on the ice, follow these steps:
- Stand in your power stance position on the grid
- Twist your shoulders so that the back of your stick is snug against the outside of your foot
- Push the puck out along the horizontal line of the grid
- Use the toe of your blade to catch the puck at the end of the line and bring it back to your foot
- Now push the puck up along the vertical line and catch it with the toe of your blade again
- Once you’ve brought it back to your foot, you can twist over to the other side and repeat the sequence
In the beginning, as your arms bend in tightly to your body and your hands twist along the shaft of your stick, your movements may feel awkward. That’s why repetition is so important for making your hockey dekes quick and natural.
Intermediate Stick Handling Drills
3. Stick-2-Foot Drill
This stick handling drill will be your first step to building on what you learned during the 360 Toe-Heel Drill.
Instead of just improving your ability to bring the puck in close, this will also train you to bring your feet into your gameplay.
All you have to do is follow these steps:
- Start in the power stance position on the grid
- Bring the puck to the far end of the horizontal line
- Use the toe of your blade to push the puck toward you
- When it reaches your foot, kick it back to your stick
- Pass the puck across the grid to the first vertical line and catch it with the toe of your blade
- Pass the puck down the vertical line
- Kick it back to your blade with the side of your foot
- Dribble the puck over to the other vertical and repeat the sequence in reverse
Make sure you’re always using the side of your foot to kick the puck. Otherwise, you’ll likely miss it when you have your skates on.
4. Double Front Fake Drill
When it comes to deking around your opponent, the fake will be your best friend. Once perfected, this move offers endless possibilities for combinations and patterns to get you in front of the net.
To start your muscle memory journey, here are the steps to take:
- Place some sort of obstacle on the horizontal line; a defender is preferred
- Starting at the top of the backhand side vertical line, dribble your way toward the obstacle
- Fake to the other vertical line
- Move back to the original vertical line
- Then, pass the puck wide to the far side of the other vertical line before shooting for the goal
- Repeat the sequence starting on the front-hand side vertical line
To get the most out of this drill, you really want to put your weight behind each fake. Learn to make them look as real as possible, and keep your opponents running circles around you!
5. Xbox Drill
Last but not least on this list of stick handling drills is the Xbox Drill.
Before you begin, you’ll need to place six pucks or small cones in a semicircle on your grid:
- Facing the goal, place two pucks down the center of the zone on the right
- Place a puck on each end of the vertical lines
- Place the last two pucks down the center of the zone on the left
Now, follow these steps to complete the drill:
- Start in your power stance about one foot back from the horizontal line
- Place the puck on your front-hand side between the two obstacles in the zone
- Pass the puck diagonally up through the grid to catch it with your backhand
- Then, pass it across the top of the grid
- Bring it back down and across with your front hand
- Pass it across the bottom with your backhand
- Now make a front-hand shot into any corner of the goal
- Repeat the sequence starting on the other side with your backhand
By mastering this stick handling drill, quick moves and fakes in front of the net will become easy!
Become a Hockey Star With These 5 Stick Handling Drills
No matter where you are, these stick handling drills are easy to set up and perfectly designed to improve the foundational skills you need to become a master at deking!