Improving your Stickhandling

The best stickhandling drills and exercises on and off the ice

Good stickhandling is fundamental to success on the ice. Alongside the basics, such as how to correctly grip the stick, in this article we'll give you plenty of stickhandling drills to practice and master. No matter if you train on the ice or at home: You'll quickly become a stickhandling pro!


Ice hockey stickhandling: Getting down the basics

Before we get started with the tips and drills, let's first take care of the basics.

How to hold the stick: Place one hand on the upper end of the stick and the other further down. As a rule of thumb, the lower hand should be a forearm length away from the upper hand. Make sure to firmly grasp the stick with the top hand. The bottom hand, however, should be loose. Fingers of both hands should wrap around the stick.

By the way, the hand that goes to the top of the stick depends on the bend of the stick blade. If the stick is bent to the left, place the right hand on top. Place the left hand on top if the blade is curved to the right.

Stick handling
The upper hand holds the stick firmly, while the other hand holds the stick losely.

How to hold your arms: You need your arms to do the heavy lifting. So keep your elbows relaxed, not stiff.

Skates on: Train stickhandling with your skates on or off! Any bit helps. When dry training, give inline skates a try. While drilling, pay attention to how you hold your arms. Keep it loose.

Practice makes perfect: Only with regular practice can your muscles adapt to new movement patterns. So don't slack off! Make sure to have fun along the way. Pump up the jams!

3 Tips to improve stickhandling

To help develop a routine for your stickhandling training and become a pro, follow these three tips:

1. Keep expectations realistic

Real results require real work, even in hockey. Take it slow and be patient with yourself. It's important that you concentrate on the technique first and being able to execute the movements cleanly.

2. Keep your head up

As soon as you've mastered a new movement or exercise, practice taking your eyes off the puck and keeping your head up. With your head up, you can keep your eyes on teammates and opponents.

3. Confuse your opponent

If your stickhandling venture goes well, try fooling your opponents.

Try skating faster or slower or point your hips in one direction (the direction of your hips usually tells where you are going) and then go in another direction.

If the added confusion gives you a glimpse of the goal, take a shot.

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How it works: Stick handling drills for beginners

To learn how to play the puck properly, start off drilling by standing.

    1. Stand with legs hip apart. Grasp the stick as shown previously.

    2. Place a puck in front of you.

    3. Now begin moving the puck from left to right with the blade of the stick. Important: Movement changes are made from the wrist of the hand that grips the top of the stick.

The following video will give you some ideas for helpful drills to improve your stickhandling.

Once you've mastered the basics of stickhandling, it's time to work on your skills, internalise the motions and get a feel for the puck and stick. With the following exercises, you can train your stick technique on and off the ice.

Stickhandling drills and exercises on the rink or at home

While you can perfect your stickhandling on the rink, it's not the only way. With a bit a creativity, all you need is a flat surface.

Stickinghandling off the ice: Ideas for dry training.

You can train your stickhandling anywhere, all you need is a solid flat surface that won't mind a few scratches.

To help you get the most out of drills, you can try a number of products meant for off-ice training: shooting pads, field hockey plates, wooden balls or an inline street puck. But when it comes down to it, you just need two things, a puck and a stick.


Stickhandling drills

To master the puck, you must learn to handle the puck with ease - whether it's in front of you, to your side or behind you.

Ben Eaves of hockeydrills shows a series of stickhandling exercises for the forehand and backhand in a video series that will help improve your stickhandling. To get started, all you'll need is a stick, a small ball, and several pucks to use as markers.

In the following video, Ben Eaves shows you how to train your backhand in a lateral starting position:

You can find more videos like this one at

Dynamic stickhandling drills

Dynamic stickhandling drills help you prepare for game scenarios. The exercises presented by Xtraice Home in the following video will boost your concentration and coordination:

Use just one hand for a change to practice your one-on-one game and breakaways:

Kevin from Hockey Training combines stickhandling moves with fitness exercises like lunges and push-ups. This keeps you moving and adds variety to your stickhandling workout:

By the way : These „dry drills“ are great for the summer time.

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On ice training: How to control the puck

You can always take your dry training drills on to the ice.

Basic static exercises

Beginners should first look to improve their stickhandling. We recommend the exercises mentioned above:

    1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart with your stick in the ready position.

    2. Grab a puck and put it in front of you.

    3. Use the stick to cycle the puck left and right.

Dynamic stickhandling exercises

For more dynamic training on the ice, Steve from Hockey Training presents 14 drills for beginners and advanced players in the following video:

More tips, tricks and drills

Once you have mastered stickhandling, you can continue to hone your skills with other great drills and exercises. You can find a great selection of exercises for adult hockey beginners by the coach of the Freiburg Vikings in our article „Ice hockey drills for late starters“.

If you want to score more goals, you should work on your shooting. Learn about the different shots and how to train each one in our article „Hockey and shooting: The many shots of professional hockey“.

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Image credits: Image 1: GoodLifeStudio/E+/gettyimages; Image 2: © / technotr