IHC Hockey is ready to begin their 31st season with the unveiling of their new website and their 2014 spring and summer schedule being released. More schools and tournament team information will be added soon!
Stickhandling is the foundation for all your puck skills. If you improve your stickhandling, undoubtedly your passing and shooting will improve. When you work on your stickhandling, remember the importance of rolling your wrists. Let the wrists do the work for you and cup the stick over the puck. Work on stickhandling in front of you body and on both sides. At the IHC European Stickhandling and Moves School, we teach the five positions where you should handle the puck in relation to your body. Keep your arms away from your body so you can front and back as well as side to side. Utilize the entire blade when stickhandling. When sliding the puck through the ”Defenseman’s Triangle”, use the heel to toe puck movement. Use the toe of your stick to pull the puck back in towards your body with the “Toe Drag”. Also, using the “Backhand Toe Drag” and the “Backhand Datsyuk Sweep” is a very effective move that can surprise a defender. Always have your head up when handling the puck and keep your feet moving. The International Hockey College offers the European Stickhandling and Moves School at many rinks. The IHC’s Body Contact, Checking, and Defensive Concepts School is offered immediately after the Stickhandling School.
Hockey players hear all the time how important their ”core” is. Core strength is critical because the core is the center of the body where all movement is modulated. Anatomically, the core consists of the muscles of the hips, abdomen, and lower back. One of the reasons why the core is so important is because the structural integrity of the body depends on it during movement. Without a fully functional core, efficient movement is not possible. A strong core not only helps connect the upper and lower extremities, but acts to accelerate, decelerate, and dynamically stabilize the body During the season, you are automatically building your leg strength with all the skating you do. You must then continue to train your core during the season so you don’t have a muscle imbalance. In hockey, you must utilize your core muscles when you are skating, checking, shooting, passing, and stick handling. Many players lose power in their shots because of poor core strength. Many players have an inefficient stride because their core is not strong enough for a ninety degree knee bend for a long and efficient stride. When checking, players with weak cores end up with shoulder injuries as they try to initiate their body checks with their shoulders instead of their core muscles. Even in stick handling, your core muscles are vital for lateral movement and puck protection. Work your core all year long and you will see the results on the ice.
The term ”Power Skating” has been misunderstood and overused in the hockey world for a long time. The term was invented many years ago by a figure skater who was teaching hockey players proper and efficient skating. She was looking for a name that would appeal to those hockey players and came up with the name “Power Skating”. However, “Power” is only one of many attributes of proper hockey skating. When the term Power Skating is used by most hockey instructors, it is meant to be proper hockey skating by combining speed, power, quickness, edge control, balance, upper body control and skating efficiency. I watch many youth hockey practices and the majority of the practices start out with skating. Usually the circle drill – where the players skate around every circle several times. When I ask the coaches and/or the parents of the players why they are doing these drills to begin their practice, the most common response I recieve is that they are doing their “Power Skating”. They are not really power skating though. They are skating for conditioning. If they were power skating, there would be instruction involved to show then the proper way to perform the techniques - to make them a more powerful, faster, quicker, and more efficient skater. Instead, what they are doing is tiring out the players before they even bring the pucks out to start teaching their practice objective. They are also tearing up the ice before the pucks come out for practice – which just isn’t a good strategy. Then the coach wonders why his players can’t make or receive a pas! The players are already tired out from skating in circles, and the ice is now choppy and covered with snow. Conditioning skating with some emphasis on proper skating is great at the end of practice – if you have time. But when the players first step on the ice, that is the best time you have to teach them. This is the time when the players’ attention span is at its greatest, their energy levels are at their highest, and the ice is at its best. To tire them out with skating drills that arent really improving their skating, at the beginning of a practice or training session – certainly seems to be very counter productive.