Scoring tips from Paul Lubanski
Today's subject is near and dear to every player who has ever laced up the skates for competitive play: scoring. More specifically, how to score more consistently.
So please use the following tips gleaned from nearly a half century in this great game.
• Stick type, length, curve and tape must be cared for and attended to meticulously every day. If the feel for the stick is lost based upon a growth spurt or a simple splinter, replace the stick.
• Keep your stick glued to the surface, especially in slot and kill zones.
• Forearms, wrists, fingers and legs must be strengthened and pushed to maximum capacity.
• A quick release in tandem with accuracy is crucial (not always the hardest and heaviest "cannonading" drive – witness Wayne Gretzky).
• Missing the cage unencumbered is selfish, lazy and tantamount to establishing a break-out pass for your opponent. Make it a RARE occurrence.
• Practice shooting while being hooked, hacked and whacked. It’s a great way to simulate live-game action and will lead to big goals.
• Practice picking pucks out of the air with the stick below the shoulders is another way to create a big-game environment in practice.
• Shooting in the first few seconds of a game – even if not from a perfect angle – has the potential to motivate a club for an entire contest.
• When shooting, keep your feet moving, the faster the better. That equates to the goalie moving, and that means he/she becomes far more vulnerable.
• Practice your backhand shot. It is the most difficult and dangerous shot for a goaltender to track because he/she cannot read your body language.
• Learn to rip one-timers.
• Wrist shots are far more accurate and less likely to be blocked, especially from the point.
• Confuse your opponent by looking away from your intended target.
• Practice using the defender as a natural screen. Shooting between his/her legs or under his/her stick while moving at top speed is amazingly effective.
• Shooting back EAST while heading WEST can be an awesome scoring weapon.
In the last issue, I shared scoring tips that I have found can deliver. Here are several more:
• Fearless tenacity is a must in order to secure ice in front of the opposition’s cage. What makes this area so dangerous is the fact that you must keep your stick on the surface so you’re ready for the puck – and you cannot move to protect your face/head in most instances or you will not score. Only the toughest leaders can survive in this environment
• Tips, re-directs and subtle shots off your body or your skates must be practiced religiously.
• Tipping the biscuit through your legs is a powerful way to score – work on it!
• Players should have at least two go-to moves for breakaways or shootouts.
• If you miss the net in warmups, you’ll miss it during the game. Make EVERY practice shot count – even those taken without a goalie in net. The rips off the high glass are ridiculously wasteful. Muscle-memory and psychological discipline begin when you step on the ice to get loose. Team players who aim for a low spot in warmups have a better chance of hitting the cage in game play.
• Never underestimate the power of positive thinking. Legitimate psychological studies have proven that actually picturing in your mind’s eye the puck entering the net as you shoot it increases the odds of scoring.
• Finally, never forget: Rebounds are unselfish passes in disguise. True story:
When I was a 10th grader at Oak Park High School, I conveniently “forgot” about attending my fifth hour physical education class so I could sneak off campus and sprint across the street to Oak Park Ice Arena.
I had been alerted by my friend, the arena manager, that a certain Detroit Red Wing would be skating solo as he rehabilitated a back injury. Well, I had the nerve to ask if I could join him. He said, “No worries – come on out,” and within minutes I had skates on and was on the ice.
I ended up challenging him to a game of first to both posts and crossbar from the top of the slot, and I beat him – twice!
Afterward, he said: “Great job, kid – I hope you go far in hockey. But remember this: hitting the posts and crossbar don’t even count as a shot on net.”
So here’s the moral of the story:
Make the goaltender stop the puck. Rebounds are unselfish passes in disguise.
Best of luck.
Paul T. Lubanski is president of Wilderness Xtreme Sports. He can be contacted at 248-762-6998.