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Stickhandling & Deking Fundamentals

Skill Drills

Learn the fundamentals of an effective deke. There are a few key points that every player should know. View the video and follow the techniques below.

There are two main elements to an effective deke:

  1. Physical components - being able to physically perform the move
  2. Timing the move - making your move and "selling" it at the right time, so that it catches the defenseman or goalie leaning one way, while you're going past him/her the other way

For today, we're focusing on the physical components. When developing stickhandling and deking abilities, there are three key points that should be remembered and performed correctly:

  1. Proper "hand-spread" - hands should be about a forearm's length apart. If a player's hands are too far apart, the stickhandling motion will be choppy, and the player will have a limited range of motion. If the hands are too close together, the player won't have the strength to execute his/her moves quickly and precisely.
  2. Top hand controls motion - many youngsters have the misconception that the bottom hand should be the one controlling the stick handle. This practice is incorrect, and leads to a choppy stickhandling motion. Let the top hand control the motion, while the bottom hand stabilizes, and you'll notice your hands becoming a lot softer.
  3. Weight transfer - stickhandling motion should be fluid, and should involve the whole body. Having a slight weight transfer side to side will help promote smooth hands, and will make it easier to handle the puck in stride on the ice.

In team settings or camps, I like to work through a stickhandling progression that looks something like this:

  • Stationary stickhandling - in front of body, then to the right and left sides of body. Focus on keeping the head up, and performing the three key points mentioned above.
  • Stationary deking - work on "selling" the move by quickly pulling the puck out wide to one side or the other
  • Stationary deking with obstacles - work on your moves using an obstacle, such as the attack triangle or sweethands, to offer token resistance
  • On-ice application - work through the same progression, eventually building up to full-speed 1 on 1 drills, where both the 'physical components' and 'timing the move' can be practiced.