When to Use Your Stick
There are certain situations in a game where it is both appropriate and inappropriate to use your stick. In this tips section I will be highlighting four major issues you need to consider in relation to stick use:
- Why use your stick?
- Why not to use your stick?
- When to use your stick
- How to use your stick
Firstly “Why use your Stick?” well it is simple, why not utilise every part of your equipment to maximise saving ability.
When wouldn’t you use your stick? Again this is simple, when you can save the ball with your feet, body or hands. Too often young and inexperienced keepers use a stick like a field player to stop a ball. With all the keeping gear on, this is nearly impossible, when a player smashes a ball at you. It is important to keep in mind that a stick is only about 1.5 inches wide so we should not use it as a major factor in saving the ball when we have gear that is much larger.
Players should use their sticks in a variety of situations including:
making aerial saves to the right hand side of the body
When using your stick you should see it as an extension to your equipment. People hold the stick differently in separate situations. When in the ready position (on the balls of my feet, body weight forward and hands up) I hold my stick in a comfortable position about mid way down the handle nearing where the grip stops. This allows me to have good control of the stick and stops the stick hitting me in the rib cage when I move it.
When intercepting a ball or taking on attacker one on one I extend my stick to allow me to utilise the whole length of it. This is especially important when you are wanting to cover as much ground as possible during the intercept.
Keepers also use their sticks for assisting to clear the ball where kicking isn’t appropriate at all. Situations like this sometimes occur when the ball has rebounded off of your gear right in front of you and the quickest and most effective thing to do is push it out. This requires very good wrist strength if you are to do it with one hand. Please note that this skill is becoming more difficult with the introduction of foam gloves (I still wouldn’t change my foam gloves for anything in the world.)
It is important to remember that with anything you need to practice all skills. Some are easier to practice than others. Two important skills that keepers need to practice to make use of the stick easier is, firstly, getting from holding the stick in the middle to the extension position with ease and pushing the ball. You can do both of these skills at home or at hockey, all you need is a ball, your stick and gloves.
Good luck with the keeping!
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