skip navigation

Turning Off-Ice Training Into On-Ice Success

By Aaron Wilbur, The Coaches Site, 02/17/21, 12:00PM EST


Getting the most out of your at-home practicing

Photo Credit: Julie Whelan Photography

We’ve been spending the last few weeks in our basements, garages, driveways and backyards working on our stickhandling and shooting as we await a safe return to the rink. As we improve our skills at home the question remains - how can we turn all of this hard work off the ice back into success in practices and games at the rink?

Every goal counts the same on the scoreboard. When the puck finds its way into the back of the net, there’s no reason not to celebrate. Coaches and players are always looking for the most efficient ways to score, and working on the most effective methods in practice can help lead to more success on the ice.

Tim Turk has been an NHL Shooting and Scoring coach for over 25 years, working with organizations and players of all ages and levels. He specializes in Hockey Shooting, Passing and Puck Preparation and Control, while also teaching the technical aspects and strategies of puck protection.

As the game becomes faster with a focus on speed and transition, being able to set up offensively ahead of the defence can put your players at an advantage. Turk touts the evolution of the game as the reason for why it is so much quicker today than ever before.

For Turk, learning proper technique comes down to three words: Freeze. Check. Correct.

That includes when players are practicing shooting a puck. For players already taking 100 shots a day, Turk suggests creating a checklist to guide what you are doing and narrow the areas of focus. 

“This particular day, I'm going to make both my feet, my hips and shoulders face the net. I'm only going to focus on my hand technique because I can't transfer my weight,” said Turk. “After every shot, I'm going to freeze - is my stick parallel to the ice after my shot? And then you can make corrections. When you freeze, you're like, ‘Oh, this should be a little bit higher, or this should be a little bit lower, should be in a little bit more, or my elbow needs to be higher’ when they create those checklists.”

Applying yourself through meaningful repetitions versus practicing for the sake of practice can go a long way in improving.

“Pilots, when they jump into the cockpit, they don't just start the engine and go. There's like 950 buttons that need to be touched before that plane can start rolling. It's kind of like when you're training as a player, have a checklist or a goal list. If you're passionate and willing to make those improvements, then I feel like you're going to help yourself off the ice.”

With any skill-building exercise, it takes time to notice development taking hold. Players won’t see it overnight but through the purposeful repetitions their hard work will be rewarded.

“All the thinking, the thought process, the preparation, the equipment, the things that you do is all at a high rate of speed. My job is to ensure that when you're improving because of that change of speed in the game, the acceleration part is done in an incremental type of process. You can't make big changes in a big way, or that makes players uncomfortable. So, you have to do it things slowly.” 

Like this article?

Share with your friends on Facebook and join the largest network of hockey parents.


Aaron is the Founder and CEO of The Coaches Site, the #1 online resource for hockey coaches, and also the host of the Glass & Out podcast. He is married with two boys, believes Major League is the best sports movie of all-time, is scared of heights and is mildly obsessed with the Alabama Crimson Tide football program.

you may also like