Print this page

Players who have changed the view of PUCK CONTROL

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Forsberg's shoot out, Granlund's fake and Dacjuk's technical skills changed the view of puck control.

Taken from a Pro Hockey Magazine article by Jaromír Pytlík

kanepThe topic of skating ended with the question of whether skating with a puck is more important than skating without it? Most coaches agree on the crucial importance of skating. But… it needs to go deeper. Not so long ago the coaches used the saying that the player "has hands but lacks his feet". From my point of view, i tis overwhelmingly true. Players skate very well, but you give them a puck and it is "after skating".


This word is commonly used in the hockey world, and we could translate it into Czech as stick control or manipulation. I don’t allow the word 'stickhandling' because I used it nine years ago in the title of my first 'home training' video showing a then five-year-old little boy in 'stickhandling' training. And it is thanks to the positive responses to it that I am training today.


The learning process of puck control technique begins with the correct grip of the stick, a basic stance with a neutral puck position and an emphasis on peripheral vision. It continues with driblings, deceptions, zigzags, puck coverage, pass receiving, passing and ends with preparation for scoring. The puck control cannot be understood in isolation, but in conjunction with game-thinking and decision-making depending on game development, the zone and the situation in which the player uses the puck control.


The technique of puck control has evolved into its current form quickly and significantly, with the change caused by the non-traditional solutions of world-class players to game situations. Among them, in particular, the Russian Pavel Dacjuk, whose "skills" produced amazement from fans and rage from rivals. It was thanks to his skill that he got the nickname "The Magician". The imaginary baton of clever hands was handed over to Patrick Kane, an American who sometimes demonstrates hardly believable things in his videos. His skill is manifested in matches at every step. I see fundamental milestones in the development of puck control technique in the legendary deception by the Swede Peter Forsberg at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer or the floorball fake from behind the net of the skillful Finnish plazer Mikael Granlund. Canadian Sidney Crosby stands out in the cover of the puck for personal fights for a long time and I cannot forget Jaromír Jágr, who is also exceptional in this respect and has responded to trends for decades.



Analysis of the current game shows more and more facts that need to be taken into account in training and which are unfortunately often neglected. Some examples are worth considering. Ice hockey is a team sport with many passes, which requires a player to be able to work in the “pass and go” mode. Yet most of the exercises to improve this skill are without passing or elaboration, and do not fit into the game concept. The average time a professional player skates at full speed with the puck during the game is approximately two seconds, which is usually followed by a change of direction associated with a change in speed. But this is hardly taken into account in practice.Very effective in the game is not only acceleration but also slowdown, which gives the player space to carry out his action or idea. Players with the puck in the game usually move on both legs and try to achieve maximum stability in personal fights. However, exercises without physical contact often prevail in trainings.


In today's top hockey the game is dominantly in a small space. Some analyzes show that up to two-thirds of the match time is played by all players in one zone and in areas with very high traffic and a number of obstacles. This results in requirements for the best puck control, peripheral vision, perfect maneuvering with explosive changes of direction to gain time, space or other advantages for the team. I will pose the question: What distinguishes the best players in this skill? I think it is clearly the work of details in the form of individual trainings for which players hire skill specialists. Furthermore, I must not forget one of the most important things, and that is the desire and will of a player to work on their skills, because it is this purposefulness that is the privilege of the exceptional.

Today you can find many tips on how to improve your skills. There are also sophisticated training systems that proudly boast of training the most technical players to simulate time and space pressure and encourage new, surprising solutions. For me, the most perfect workout is a combination of individual training with practice of details and play in a small area, forcing us to read the game, react, combine, and think of the game. However, you need a high quality training group or team. Different players cannot do without skillful hands, thanks to which they are successful playing against their opponents, scoring goals…