Hands, eyes and … feet
Posted by Dean Holden at February 28th, 2014
by Chris Pryor, 20 February 2014
If you’re a student of the game, you might have noticed a growing trend (actually commonplace now) of players warming up by playing soccer before the game. At first glance it looks like a good way to loosen up and get the body prepared, but with a closer look you will see from a coordination standpoint that there’s way more to it than that.
Players today don’t even think about catching pucks in their feet and directing them up towards their sticks; it’s second nature. At times, you even see them knock down pucks with their feet that are a foot off the ice easier than they would do with their sticks. It’s amazing, considering the speed of the pucks, and at times while they are either moving forwards or backwards.
Players need to be able to take a puck in stride without losing speed and bring it up to their stick. Not only should you be able to do this without hesitation at full speed, but you also need to be able to handle a puck that’s in your feet, get it up to your stick and get off a shot, all within a split second with an opposing player bearing down on you.
Whether you’re in front of the net or skating full speed down the boards, accepting pucks in your feet needs to be practiced. You should do this consistently. You need to be able to react to different circumstances at anytime of a game and pucks that aren’t just precisely on your stick is part of it.
If you practice taking pucks in your skates over and over again, it will become habit forming and something you don’t even think about, so when the opportunity presents itself in a game you will be ready to make the most of it. Because there’s a good chance it will be the only one you will get.
Chris Pryor is the director of hockey operations for the Philadelphia Flyers. He is in charge of the amateur and pro scouting departments. A native of St. Paul, Pryor spent eight seasons as a scout for the Flyers. He played parts of six seasons in the NHL with the Minnesota North Stars and New York Islanders.