Article #3: Passing - A Lost Art
At times it seems passing the puck has become a lost art. Players,
coaches and parents please note that passing is a key fundamental which
is often overlooked andnot enough emphasis is placed on the skill.
One could not say Wayne Gretzky had the best shot, or was the best skater, there have been better stick handlers and he will never be remembered for his body checks, but he was the games best passer without a question. The fact that passing made Gretzky the greatest player of all time highlights the importance of this skill.
I believe one cause for this skill to be neglected is the way we teach the game. Often coaches tell their players to pass to an area. This technique is fine in some circumstances but for the most part it should not take the place of a quick, crisp, tape to tape pass.
Coaches also do not give enough praise
to a player who completes a good pass. Positive reinforcement will only
help that player and demonstrate to the rest of the team that good passing
is a valued aspect of the hockey club.
Drills and skill development should have a large emphasis on passing. When a team is having a bad practice it usually shows the most by passes being way off the mark. Stop the practice in this case and try to get everyone focused on bearing down on their passes and the rest should take care of its self.
Many players use passing as a last resort. This is a big mistake and by doing this it very hard to make a decent pass. Instead try looking for the pass ahead of time and if it isn’t there keep skating and use your options. Focus on making crisp, quick passes and take pride when you make a good pass. Once you have passed the puck get to an open lane so you can get it back.
Headman the puck whenever your teammates are ahead of you. This will let your teammates keep their momentum as they advance into the opposition’s zone. Contrary to this if you are ahead of the puck carrier and do not get the puck never go off-side in protest. This attitude does not produce winners.
Another important point to becoming an effective passer is to avoid giving away were you plan to dish the puck. Hockey players can learn a thing or two from basketball players as they make it difficult to tell where they are going to pass the ball. Often it is important to make a move so that a passing lane will open up to your intended target.
When I was a young hockey player we always had a player on the team who collected money from his parents every time he scored a goal. This was a bad idea because they didn’t reward his assists, he became a “puck-hog”and it alienated the player from the rest of the team. That example is a little extreme but keep in mind when you put pressure on your son or daughter to score goals you may be causing more harm then good. A player does not have to score a goal to have a great game. Team work, sportsmanship and winning hockey teams are built on working together.
As the European invasion continues in the NHL it is clear that the skill that they demonstrate the most superiority over North Americans is passing. We need to raise the awareness of this fundamnetal in order to develop better hockey players in this country.
- Article written by Jim Wheatcroft.
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