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Tip of the Week #1

Posted Saturday, December 20, 2008 by Cliff Hedges
Welcome to Coach Hedges' tip of the week.  This week we will be looking at stick skills, shooting and stick procection

Individual Stick Skills: From beginniner to our most experince Vasity players.  Six skills too practice and perfect.
  1. Angle on the Stick: Keeping an angle on the stick allows for the ball to easily sit and stay in the stick.  To have a good angle on the the stick, the bottom hand should be raised about a foot away from the belly button(regardless if your an innie or outiee) This will ensure that the bottom hand is further away from the body than the top hand, thus creating an angle on the stick. This may seem simple, but is very important for making effective passes and shots.
  2. Drop the hand: for the newer players, we are recommending dropping the top hand about 4-5 " from the head of the stick. It is a common mistake for the newer players to drop their top hand too low. This limits your control and ablity to be effective in protecting, passing and shooting. Once you become one of our more experienced players you will notice they can drop their top hand lower.  Dropping the top hand allows for more power on passes and shots by creating torgue. It also creates range of motion making it easier to move the stick around when cradling.
  3. Head of the stick facing target: The head of the stick should always be facing the target; this allows for a pass or shot at anytime. We will call this South Hadley Triple threat position, like in hoops, the SHTTP allows you to 1) pass, 2) shoot or 3) cradle at anytime. If the bottom hand on the stick becomes too close to the body it becomes difficult to ahve the head of the stick facing the target.  This eliminates the ability to pass, shoot or score at anytime.
  4. Grip: The stick should sit in the fingers tips and not the palm. In the top hand, the stick should sit in the base of the fingers and the tips of the fingers should wrap around the stick.  The thumb should always be on the shaft.  Hold the stick as if you are just about to take a shot-this is the grip that you should have on the stick at all times. Often, players will change grips from cradling to shooting and waste precious time.  More advanced players should get to the point where they can move the stick quickly in their hands, almost rolling it in their fingertips.
  5. Wrist, relaxed and flexible.  Keeping the wrists relaxed and flexible allows for coordination, range of motion, and rhythm when cradling.  Relaxed and flexable wrists allow you to pass, shoot or cradle at anytime.
  6. Arms away from Body: Players often think that keeping their arms close to their body will help them protect their stick.  This is not true.  Arms should stay AWAY from the body.  This will allow for range of motion when cradling, more advanced stick work and better protection. If you arms are away from your body, you will also have harder and more accurate passes and shots.

Shooting/Passing Form: Good form when passing/shooting will allow for max. power and accuracy.
  • Weight on the back foot.
  • Keep arms(hands and elbows) away from body.
  • Keep hands 12" apart.
  • Shift weight from the back foot to the front foot at the same time you square your hips and shoulders.
  • Pull the bottom hand across the body
  • Snap the wrists.
  • Twist the Torso(Note; Over emphasize the torso twist, it will help increase power)
  • Follow through on the outside of the plant foot.
Shooting concepts:  When we shoot, it is important to look at the goal to see where the goalie is and how she is playing.  Is she right handed? Is she left handed? Is she playing on the top of the crease? Is she tall?  These are questions we as shooters should ask before we consider a shot. Tips to maximize your scoring changes.
  • Avoid aiming for corners.  Every shooter has a margin for error. It is essential to maximize the chance of scoring by getting the ball on the net most of the time. By aiming for the corners, the margin of error causes shots to fall outside the frame  of the net too often.
  • Aim 6-8" inside the post. Pick a specific piece of the net and aim for it.
  • The best spot to shoot is at the goalie's offside( Non-Dom) hip-below the hip and above the ankle. 
  • Know the conditions of the field. If muddy may stick.  Test the conditions before each game.  These are factors that both our shooters and our Goalies should consider.
  • Remember you will only become a great shooter if you practice and a lot.
Different Techniques/Shots
  1. The Outside shot.  When shooting from the outside (beyond 6m from the goal), use more bounce shots and low shots then anything else.  Be deceptive!  The stick should be hidden behind the body until the last second before the shot. Change levels in your shot, i.e. don't shoot high to high or low to low.  If your stick is high drive the shot down low.
  2. The Inside shot.  When shooting from the inside, accuracy becomes more important than speed. Inside we shorten up our form, moving from the tradtional torso twist(which we used to draw power) to a wrist or snap shot.(which provides more accuracy and allows better protection inside) Remember to fake when inside. Move the goalie.  Use more shoulder fakes then stick fakes.  Stick fakes can take you out of the SHTTP, wasting precious time inside the very busy 8m area,
  3. Shooting on the move: Keep feet moving and spead at maximum. Slowing the feet may allow the defender to make a check or regain positioning. Cont movement toward the goal; do not fade away. Shoot overhand, never loosing sight of the target, but be aware of the defensive pressure.  Shooting on the move can be very effective because it forces the goalie to move across the crease, making it more difficult for her to get set and make a save( Katie Phillips did this very well for Longmeadow last year)
Deception when Passing/Shooting: It is important to work on this and at full speed so that we are confindent enougth to use them during game situations. In regards to faking, it is important to think about what you normally do.  To be truly effective, it is crucial to mimic your normal shooting/passing body movement.
  1. Fake with the Body: When faking with the body, square your shoulder, turn your stick and back shoulder slightly, and drive your elbow forward.  With this fake you are always a threat.  Remember: If you drop your shoulder, pass/shoot high.  If your drive your shoulder up, pass/shoot low.
  2. Fake with the Stick:  Two effective stick fakes
  • Fake the shot high, bring the stick across your body for an off-side shot low.
  • Fake a shot, switch hands as you pivot to the opposite side of the defendr and make a pass/shot.
Cradling/Protection:  It is inportant to remember when we practice our stickwork that there are different stick positions for different players.  Each player will look different when executing stick work.  It is important to understand that things like height can significantly affect the way a player  executes their stickwork. Each player must realize her attributes and adjust her stick work accordingly.

Cradling Form:  50% of good protection stems from good cradling form and smooth stick movement. Key factors include:
  • Keep arms away from the body
  • Always be in SHTTP, keep your stick facing your target.
  • Keep the bottom hand away from the body, remember about 1 foot away.
  • The head of the stick is over the shoulder
  • The top hand pushes up and turns.
  • The bottom hand is relatively "quite", allowing the stick to move freely through it with movement of the top hand.
  • Make small cradles
  • Keep feet moving when cradling
Basic Protection:  Good stick skills makes for good protection It is important to be able to move the stick from high to low and on both sides of your body.
  • Keep arms away from the body
  • Keep your body between the defender and you stick
  • Keep your head (one on your shoulders) up and on a swivel. You must be able to constantly see your open teammates and your defender.  If your head is down you cannot make the open pass or see a check coming( we had a problem with this last year and will need to improve on this)
  • Have the abliity to stand your gorund and protect. Do not Shrink in size. STAND TALL, keep your shoulders up, and the stick back.  If your head and shoulders are up, it is not necessary to move very much to protect your stick.
Protection on the Move:
  • Protect your stick on the approach: The stick must stay back when approaching a defender.  Use your body to shield your stick from a check. Do not bring your stick out in front of you or to the side.  It seems natural to bring your stick forward because your body momentum is going forward.  This will make you vulnerable to checks and take you out of SHTTP ( Tip; Keep you bottom hadn loose, if you get bumped by a defender the ball usually does not come out)
  • Bring your stick in front after you "tool" on the defender.  When you pass the defender the rules change.  Now your stick should be infront of your body for at least a few cradles, until you create space between you and the defender.  Even when it is in front, it is important to move the stick around for protection.  Change levels and keep your head on swivel.
Protection in traffic: Often, there is a lot of traffic inside the 8m because the def collapses.  When you feel this happening, it is extreamly important to protect your stick.  Some ways to do this:
  • Choke up on the bottom hand: This allows for more control and allows the stick to be protected by your body.
  • Bring the stick in tight. Make small cradles.  Do not leave the stick out away from your body, unprotected.
  • Move the stick around.  Do not keep the stick at one level. Move the stick around quickly, but keeping it tight.
  • Be Strong. Be powerful and strong when cradling inside the 8m
  • Keep feet moving.  Do not stop you feet, if you do you will be checked. If your feet are moving you can always run out of trouble and probably get fouled.
Next week we will discuss Attack skills, dodges,  getting out of pressure.  By reading these and practicing them you will come to tryouts way ahead of our opponents.

Merry Christmas Ladies.

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