While the end of the season came earlier than anybody anticipated the time for skill improvement is never over. The OMHA Players Club presented by HockeyShot offers three fun challenges that develop skills in different areas of the game such as shooting, coordination, agility and balance.
The 10,000 Touches Challenge is one of the most popular skill building exercises. It features a variety of stick handling drills that help improve puck control through increased hand speed, quickness and coordination. Being able to get the puck through an opposing defender adds an extra element of unpredictability to your game.
The concept of 10,000 Touches is based on the ‘10,000 Hour Rule’ which theorizes that developing a talent and becoming accomplished in a certain area takes roughly 10,000 hours worth of practice. It’s not just about putting in the time, it’s about pushing yourself and being dedicated while you practice to make it worthwhile.
The challenge is comprised of drills that fall under five ‘skill buckets.’ Those buckets are Quick Hands, Around Body, Narrow and Wide, Toe Drag and Passing. Working on drills like Figure 8, Ball through Legs and Wide Reach all help to boost hand-eye coordination while becoming more comfortable with handling the puck.
Players need a dedicated place to practice on a safe, flat surface, ideally with a rebounding surface like a wall or a curb. Using their stick, gloves and a tennis ball, players can maneuver around additional equipment like cones or household items as obstacles. Working five days a week for 15-30 minutes a day, players will be able to complete the challenge in eight weeks. Have a dedicated time and space to practice and make it part of your daily routine.
There is a key to the technique that players should use when practicing any skill in any sport and that is having each rep be meaningful. It’s easy to speed through as many reps as possible in the quickest amount of time just to finish faster but that doesn’t help you improve. Use an extra few seconds and think about the adjustments you are making in practice and it will help improve your stick handling. You will notice an improvement in your abilities over time if the practice is kept consistent.
The tracking sheet provided lets players monitor their progress as they look to complete all 10,000 Touches. It breaks down what ‘skill buckets’ to work on each week and explains why they are beneficial and when the skill may come into use. There are over 20 different drills that make up the challenge which keeps it fresh throughout the eight weeks.
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