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To Dangle or Not to Dangle

Skill Drills

Developing hands is all about range of motion. As a teen, I remember being excited to take Martial Arts and act like Bruce Lee, only to spend the first 2 months raising and s-l-o-w-l-y extending my leg toward the punching bag (not even hitting it).

This repetition and intense focus on form was later imperative to being able to throw a kick with significant force. Had I just stepped up and started kicking the bag making cat noises, I would have never had the flexibility or the accuracy I later noticed I had!

Most stick handling balls and pucks do a great job of promoting quickness and some strength development, but to get the most gains in the shortest time, a player needs to over exaggerate wrist roll and maximize range of motion. Based on laws of muscle fiber recruitment, the more a joint is stretched prior to a movement and the greater the joint angle of the movement, the greater the number of muscle fibers you will be using. A muscle cannot develop maximum strength unless it is taken through this cycle of stretch and contract. So the key is to commit time daily to a training aid that allows you to over exaggerate a movement and get outside your regular range of motion that is normally short and restricted. Think about a person’s tendency to feel they are swimming fast when doing the doggy paddle. It’s only when you get someone out of that habit and slow the swim stroke down, introducing greater ranges of motion with more force producing actions that they can get to a new level of skill proficiency.

In terms of stick handling in hockey, The Halo is the perfect device for this as unlike a stick blade, it is off the ground and sits on top of a ball, so the wrist needs to be taken through a much greater range of motion before it touches the ground. You don’t need a Masters in Kinesiology to realize that this maximizes the number of muscle fibers that are recruited per repetition, which means the forearm and wrist muscles are getting that much stronger, that much faster! I admit I was skeptical when I first came in contact with the Halo, but just giv’er a rip with it for about 45 seconds and the burn in your forearm will let you know that it means business! Remember it takes about 10,000 hours to master a skill, about half that amount if you put your effort into slowing it down and doing it properly!