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Video Coach

The Secret to Winning Puck Battles

By Ian Taylor, OMHA Executive Director, 03/06/20, 10:15AM EST


Video Coach | Presented by Hockey Intelligym

When we think of skill, we automatically have visions of Crosby, Matthews, Nylander or Kane. These world class talents are great examples of how to execute different skills from their toolbox to score goals (and showcase in Video Coach).

Regaining possession of the puck is also a skill – something we looked at in our last edition – and while defence is often thought of as simply being effort over skill, the art of the stick-lift, when performed effectively is a skill as worthy of any offensive highlight of the night.

The Art of the Stick Lift

  • NYI13 picks up the puck inside his zone and takes off on a breakaway straight through the middle of the ice with TBL71 in pursuit
  • NYI13 pushes the puck on with one-hand on his backhand, keeping the puck shielded
  • Pushing the puck with one-hand also allows him to use his free hand to block the stick of TBL71
  • TBL71 does two important things in this  situation – he keeps his feet moving, he keeps his stick low along the ice and does not reach in

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  • NYI13 continues to sprint and uses his free hand again, to shield the puck and push away TBL71’s stick
  • As NYI13 approaches the net, he puts his bottom hand on his stick, as he prepares to shoot
  • To ensure no penalty is taken, TBL71 establishes his stick position on the ice, under the stick of NYI13
  • NYI13 prepares to shoot, taking a wide stance with skates outside his shoulders, drops the ‘bucket’ and pulls the puck across his body
  • For the first time, TBL71 also stops striding, takes a similar, wide, low stance and as NYI13 pulls puck across, he strikes!
  • Working from the ice-up, he lifts the stick of NYI13
  • This is the set-up move…

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  • The pay-off move happens next…
  • TBL71 instantly gets his blade back down and onto the puck, under the stick of NYI13
  • He is low, heavy on his stick and wins the battle from the ice-up
  • If he keeps his stick parallel to the ice on the initial stick-lift, one of two things is likely – one, he loses the battle and gives up a quality scoring opportunity,or; two, he takes a penalty
  • The play culminates with TBL71 winning possession of the puck, keeps his feet moving and immediately transitions from defence to attack

Blink and you will miss it! Watch the video clip again to appreciate the beauty of the skills involved in this stick-lift including skating speed, body position, edge control stick position, and timing and the importance of regaining possession to transition from defence to offence quickly.

Coaches! Like any skill, developing the art of the stick-lift requires practice. The video below shows some great examples of stick-lifts and escapes.

As a progression, add a stick-lift situation to start your established drills to create a game-like connection to the where, when and how to use this skill.

Video Coach is a series of articles which reviews a video clip from game action and then breaks down the sequence into frames identifying key skills, individual and team tactics, strategy and hockey IQ. Video is a great teaching tool that can be used by both players and coaches.

The Hockey IntelliGym is a breakthrough cognitive training technology that hones hockey sense and has been scientifically proven to improve player safety. IntelliGym has been used by thousands of players - from OHL teams to USA Hockey to OMHA Minor Midget champions - to improve individual players' points total, heighten spatial awareness, and foster better anticipation of the play. Research from the University of Delaware suggests training with IntelliGym is a great way to reduce concussions and other on ice injuries. The software, which can be used on any computer, can be purchased here.

"What I'm noticing with IntelliGym is that it compliments my use of area games or situational pressure drills in practice. My players are recognizing and executing their options faster than they have in the past. This improvement has translated to games. They are moving to open areas to support their teammate with the puck."


Ian Taylor is the Executive Director of the OMHA and former Director of Hockey Development. A proud hockey dad of two, Ian has over 25 years of instructional and coaching experience.

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