Many players have great hands and a tremendous reach while stickhandling. This no doubt is from 100’s of hours of practice on the ice, driveway, and basement. It’s unbelievable what players can do now from pulling the Michigan at full speed to toe dragging the puck like it’s on a string. This is great and I’m constantly amazed by the stickhandling talent of young players. But something that can easily be integrated and will propel your stickhandling to the next level is using a head/shoulder fake. This provides the elusiveness that you find in all world class stickhandlers. If you only move the puck laterally while keeping your shoulders square then you’ll rarely fool an opposing player. While growing up in Long Island I learned from Aleksey Nikiforov, a former Russian pro for Dinamo Riga, that the basis for any stickhandling movement is to rotate your upper body. A good defenseman will focus on the puck carrier’s chest. So the puck carrier must essentially make his “chest disappear.” This creates what we call shiftiness and makes the D man commit to one side and then the player explodes in the other direction around him. Aleksey taught players to constantly move your upper body and head when you have the puck in any situation remotely near an opposing player. It keeps them off balance and provides you, the puck carrier with more space. The movment consists of stickhandling quickly just outside one foot(either right or left) then pulling the puck across the body along with a shoulder/head fake to get the defenseman leaning to that side –The more you exaggerate the fake, the more the opposing player will bite on it–and then pushing the puck all the way to the extreme outside of the other foot. Now you have a step on the defenseman and can use your speed to bust wide around him.
It’s a little tough to explain so I made a video that will help. Practice this movement and you will elevate your game to the next level.
Courtesy of Brett Henning