Proper Warm Up for Adult League Players

Warm Up Do’s and Don’ts

Labor Day is now behind us, which means that most of you have or will soon be starting a new season.  In fact, mine just started last night.  So this seems like the perfect time to talk about your pre-game warm up.  And no, I don’t mean the beers that some of you consume (shudder) prior to taking the ice.  Save them for after the game, where they will be more refreshing and less guilt inducing.  And let’s face it, they don’t elevate your level of play… just perhaps your perception of it.  What I’m talking about is what you do to prepare your body for your game.  I have broken it down into two categories:  Do’s and Don’ts.

Let’s Start with the Don’ts, if for no other reason than they are more fun for me to write about.  First and foremost, don’t be that guy that goes out on the ice, put’s his spare stick and water bottle on the bench, and then immediately throws his leg up on the boards and tries to stretch it?  There is at least one guy like that on every beer league team.  I’ve never seen a woman do this, so maybe they are smart enough to know that you should never try to stretch a cold muscle.  If you feel the need to stretch a particular muscle, be sure to do so after your body is sufficiently warmed up.  After this knucklehead tries to stretch his cold muscle, what does he do next?  Clappers off the glass, of course.  After all, there are bound to be countless hot women in the stands just waiting to be impressed by the thunderous sound of your booming slapshot, right?  I mean I can’t think of a better place to meet a hot woman than a cold ice rink at 10:00 on a Tuesday night.  That’s where they all hang out!

OK, so I’ve had enough fun with our not so fictitious Knucklehead Warrior.  Truth is, that most of us, yours truly included, have used some of these methods to get ourselves prepared for a game.  So if we are to avoid the aforementioned in our warm up routine, what should we do?

Well the first consideration should be time.  In my current league, we get 5 minutes of warm-up time on the ice before we are signaled by the refs to start the game.  And 5 minutes is pretty generous.  Most leagues only give about 3 minutes.  So if that’s all the time we have, then how should we use it?

Step 1 – Warm Up Our Muscles

None of us are getting any younger, and the older our bodies get, the more important it is that we get properly warmed up so as to avoid injury.  So skate some laps to get your muscles warmed up.  While skating around, try to activate as many muscles as possible, including those of your upper body.  For those of you that have been to camp, you know this is the “active warm-up” that we do at the beginning of each ice session.  We skate around, and do things such as: Raise our hands above our head, then down to our toes, bring our knees up and then out (one leg at a time of course) as we skate, and more.

But given that we only have a few minutes of free ice time before a game, why not warm up before we take the ice?  We don’t need to use valuable ice time to get our muscles warm.  Why not try doing this Dynamic Warm-Up from ex-pro Gary Roberts.  It only takes about 4 minutes.  You can do this in the locker room just before getting dressed, or even while partially dressed.  Your teammates might think it a little odd at first, but they’ll get over it.  And some might even join you.  Then when you take the ice, you can use the entire 3 or 5 minutes to practice your mad skills.

Step 2 – Practice Our Skills

Once we are warmed up, then what skills should we work on? Well that’s entirely up to you.  But choose carefully, as you only have a precious few minutes.  I see some beer league teams try to mimic the pros and do some kind of drill where you have a line of guys in each corner of their team’s end of the ice, and they skate, pass and end with a shot on the goalie.  It may look cool to the 3 adoring fans in the stands, but I’m not a big proponent of these drills, mostly because you are wasting valuable warm-up time in line waiting for your turn.  Same goes for when guys make a semi-circular arc in front of the goalie, and then take turns shooting the puck.  Great for the goalie, not so much for the players.  Let one or two guys warm up the goalie. And remember, when you’re warming up the goalie, the object is not to practice your bar down snipe, it’s just to warm up the goalie.

Here are some suggestions for skills to practice in your warm-up:

Shooting: I made fun of those of us that like to take clappers off the glass, but there is nothing wrong with practicing your shot.  But if you want to do so, rather than seeing how hard you can hit the glass, why not work for a combination of speed and accuracy.  Most rinks have dasher board ads, so pick out a particular letter on one of those ads and try to hit it.  You can also work on your release, focusing on being quicker and/or more deceptive.

Passing: Why not get a teammate and work on your passing, both forehand and backhand.  Got that down? Try a little saucer pass.

Skating: I like to work on my skating.  And there are so many little skating skills you can practice: Inside edges, outside edges, tight turns, starts, stops with a crossover start for quick change of direction, pivots and transitions.  All of these can add to your agility on the ice during the game, and can make you a more effective player.  I am surprised by how many of these skating agility exercises I can get through in the few minutes before a game.  Just remember to work both sides of whatever skating maneuver you are trying.  Everyone has a strong side and a weak side for their stops, crossovers, pivots, transitions, etc.  Spend at least as much time, if not more, on your weak side as you do on your strong side.  Why?  Because in a game, you want to face the play, and make yourself available for passes from your teammates.  If you turn your back to your teammate because you can only pivot in one direction, and he makes a pass to you when your back is turned, the puck goes sailing past and it’s most likely a turnover.

Stick Handling: Practice it stationary and/or while on the move.  Incorporate it with your skating agility practice.

These are just some of the many things you can work on.  If you’ve been to camp, think of all of the drills that you went through over the course of your 12 hours on the ice.  This should give you a plethora of skills to work on during your warm-up. The main principles to keep in mind are to properly warm up your body and to use your limited warm up time wisely.

Good luck and have a great season!

– Rick Parisi, CEW

5 Essential Goalie Warm-Ups

5 Essential Goalie Warm-Ups

by Evan Tabachnick

In the rec leagues, warm-ups usually consist of a brief period of five minutes or less where your teammates often trickle in right till the opening whistle for a quick pre-game skate to get their juices flowing. Many (especially the older guys) will spend the majority of this time stretching, while others will work on their stickhandling and shooting skills, for lack of any better time to practice. What you choose to do during the warm-ups is of course totally up to you, but the most important member of the team you need to focus on is one person: your goalie.

As a former tender playing competitive hockey and now a forward/emergency goalie in the beer leagues, I’ve been on both sides of the equation. In my younger years, the warm-ups were a well-organized exhibition of 2-on-1s and other fast-paced team-oriented drills to get everyone involved and, most certainly, the goalie would get his/herself a solid warm-up. Those would invariably progress to two very effective shooting drills which are great for goalie warm-ups: the Half-Moon drill and the Crease Scramble. Considering that most of our rec league passes are not exactly tape-to-tape but rather tape-to-somewhere-between-the-legs-of-a-falling-player, I’m going to go ahead and omit the team-based passing drills and skip right to the “static” shooting drills that are easy for everyone to grasp and especially great for goalies.

The Half-Moon Drill

This one is as easy as it sounds. Players form an arc inside the zone, facing the goalie, and each one has a puck. From left-to-right or right-to-left, each player takes a shot of their choice (wrist, slap, snap, or backhand) on the goalie. Important: Do give your tender plenty of time to recover from shot to shot. This drill progresses nicely to the following one, as long as the team starts off a distance from the netminder. The players in the center of the ice should be just about at the blueline (a good spot for your defensemen to work on their point shots). After a few shots from afar, the goalie will get their reflexes, angular play, and lateral movement up to speed and gain more of a feel for the puck. The team can then start to progressively move in until everyone is right on top of the crease, which leads to our next drill.

The Crease Scramble

This relatively new drill—one that’s been gaining quite a bit of popularity in the NHL—is fun for everyone. Basically, the whole team is standing within a foot of the crease, trying to score with one puck. Inevitably, there will be a bit of “scrambling” for the goalie—diving, sprawling, flopping, etc.—otherwise known as desperation saves. Once the tender makes a few saves and gets their confidence up, the team can incorporate some short passes into the mix. Rebound control is paramount for the goalie. This drill is great for getting the team’s “scoring touch” and “nose around the net” in tune as these chances should really be converted more often than not (except when facing a well-warmed-up goalie!)

The Don’ts

Inevitably, there are a few things that you really shouldn’t do when warming up your goalie:

Don’t shoot high Shots in the head/neck/shoulder area are no fun to be hit with. They usually hurt and leave a goalie’s ears ringing, despite how protected you may think they are in those areas. Also, before a goalie is warmed up, shots like these will take them by surprise and could actually cause injury. Certainly not the way to get your goalie ready for a game. “But people will be shooting high in the game!” you might hear. Which might be true, and by game time your goalie will be warmed up and well adjusted to the speed of shots at this level—that is, if they haven’t been decapitated from a poorly placed, ill-timed shot from one of their teammates in the warm-up.

Don’t deke Another one that begs the obvious complaint, “But people will be deking in the game!” may also be true. But the reason we caution against using this one is that you can’t really make a save against a deke on your feet; it takes energy to get up and down. If everyone starts deking in the warm-ups, the goalie is going to be awfully tired from all of that up-and-down action by the time the game starts. This one is less a hard-and-fast rule and more of a judgment call: If you have seen that nobody has really taken a breakaway on the goalie so far and you want to throw one in at the end of the warm-ups, go right ahead. But if you believe you’re the second coming of Patrick Kane and you plan to exclusively work on your shootout skills during the warm-ups, then get lost!

Don’t shoot while the goalie is recovering from the previous shot This one is just plain common sense. Don’t shoot pucks at a sitting duck. Granted, the goaltender is covered in heavy pads, but he/she is still vulnerable when they’re not in their stance and facing you. And besides, they’re still your teammate. Don’t hurt your teammates.

Evan Tabachnick plays as a skater in several leagues and will don the pads only if there are no goalies left on Earth.

This article originally appears on—Where Rec Hockey Lives. © 2016 Digital Media Publications, Inc. Published with permission.

Coach Rob’s Tips on Getting Ready for Camp

Winter leagues are winding down…Summer leagues are starting up and the NHL play-offs are just around the corner…That can only mean one thing…Weekend Warriors Camp season is about to start!!

In order to get ready, we thought we would send out a little note to help you get prepared for camp. It may not seem like there is a lot to prepare for but there are little things you can do to help get you ready.  Here it goes;

1) Be Physically Ready

I know what you are thinking…”but coach, this is what I do to stay in shape.” I am with you, but if your league has ended try to stay on the ice…if you do not have access to ice try to exercise 3 times a week for 30 mins. The more you can do to stay active it will help you at camp. Doesn’t matter if you are a new player or someone that has been at it a while, 12 hours of ice over the course of 3 days is a lot. To put that into perspective…if you go to a beer league tournament you are usually playing 3 games…maybe 4 if you get to the final over the course of the weekend. That’s 3 or 4 hours of game time and getting breaks every now and then. At camp we have six 2 hour on-ice sessions with a few breaks here and there. Get the picture…try to be ready.

2) Equipment

Prior to arriving to camp make sure all your equipment is in working order. In past camps we have had some equipment failures. This results in the camper trying to replace the equipment…which can be difficult to do if there is not a dedicated pro shop or even if there is, are they going to have your size? The second part of that is it can also result in injury which could ruin the rest of your camp experience.

If you do need new equipment prior to camp, try to wear it a few times before coming. Especially skates…we highly discourage wearing a brand new pair of skates for camp. Breaking in skates is tough in general. Trying to do it while developing new skills is a difficult task and it could take away from having a great weekend.

3) Attitude

Come to camp with an open mind and a readiness to try new things…after all that is why you are here. Our job as coaches is to develop your skills, increase your confidence and make sure you have fun. Sometimes you have been a taught a skill a certain way at your rink and it works for you. Maybe we will teach you the same skill but in a different way.  As a camper, be open to that. We are not saying what you have learned is wrong, we just might have a different perspective.

In learning new skills, it is important that you do not get frustrated. Remember it takes a lot of repetition to learn one skill and feel confident enough to apply to your game. Having said that, how many times do we ever use one skill in a game? Be patient with yourself. Do not measure your progress with someone else’s. We all learn at different speeds.

We are looking forward to this season.  We hope you are too.  See ya soon!

Coach Rob

Goalie Glove Position – A Lesson for Goalies and Shooters Alike

Goalie Glove Position – A Lesson for Goalies and Shooters Alike

So many goalies hold their glove up high.  Why is that?  For many it may come from baseball.  After all, a goalie’s glove is a lot like a first basemen’s glove, and so many of us played baseball as a kid.  So it seems like the right thing to do…except goalies are not trying to catch a ball coming across the diamond from shoulder height as first basemen do.  Rather, they are trying to catch a puck that is coming from ice level.  So big deal.  What’s the difference you may ask?  Well consider the angle. This makes all the difference in the world.

In the picture above, Pekka Rinne has his glove up high.  If the puck is being shot from the blue line or the top of the circles, he is likely protecting the top corner of the net.  But if the shot is coming from in closer, say the dots or bottom of the circles, then he is more likely protecting the guy in the 18th row of the stands.  In other words, if the puck is coming from in close, the angle is steeper.  The puck is rising, so any puck shot from in close that goes into his glove held that high was likely going over the net anyway.

In the picture below, Carey Price has his glove down low and in tight.  It looks like he is giving away a lot of room in the top corner of the net, but when you consider the angle the puck is coming from, there is probably just a tiny window of space.  How many guys in your beer league can hit a small window top cheddar?  Not too many, and if they can, good for them.  They deserve the goal.  Goalies, by keeping your glove down low and in tighter to your body, you are covering more of the net, and making it very difficult for shooters to beat you on the glove side.  Plus if they do shoot high, there is nothing cooler than catching the puck in that upward, highlight-reel worthy, classic “flashing the leather” move.


Shooters Take Notice

So if you’re a shooter, think about this.  And don’t wait until you have the puck and are ready to shoot.  When you are on the bench, take notice of how the goalie holds his glove.  If he keeps it low and tight like in the Carey Price photo, I would look for another place to shoot the puck.  But if he holds it way up high, you’ve got a lot of room to shoot above the pad and below the arm/glove.  Take that shot!

If you would like to learn more about playing goalie or scoring on goalies, then get yourself to one of our great camp locations this spring or summer!

Defensive Tactic: Blade Mirroring – The Great Equalizer

We’ve all been in this situation.  You’re playing in your beer league, and there is a guy on the other team that should be playing about 3 leagues above the one you are in.  He claims he’s in your league because he wants to be with his buddies, but you know he’s checking the league’s stat page the next morning to see where he stacks up among the scoring leaders.  In a word…douchebag!  But the league won’t do anything about it, so what can you do?  Two hand him across the shins?  Oh so tempting.  But you’ll end up in the sin bin, and now you’re team is down a man.  Here is a better idea.  It is a simple tactic called “blade mirroring”.

So what is Blade Mirroring?

It is so simple you will want to kick yourself for not trying it sooner.  All you do is extend your stick (only one hand on your stick) toward the puck carrier’s stick blade.  You want your blade to be flat on the ice, generally with the curve up, but can also work curve down.  The key is to move your stick to follow your opponent’s stick, such that your blade is always in a position to prevent him from shooting or passing the puck to the dangerous areas of the ice.  Your blade should be close to the blade of your opponent’s stick.  Do it such that his or her only options are to turn away, pass to the peripheral areas of the ice (i.e. further way from your net), or if he chooses to shoot, then it gets deflected up and away by your stick.

Why is Blade Mirroring so effective?

If done properly, you will thoroughly frustrate your opponent.  It simultaneously applies pressure and eliminates his options.  The beauty of it is that it works even if that player is a much better skater.  Simply maintain good positioning (between your opponent and your goal), and move your stick to follow his movements.  I don’t know about you, but I can move my stick a lot faster than my feet.  I find it particularly effective when the opponent is already in the corner or outside of the dots.  I love it when I can frustrate a player that is much more skilled.  Oftentimes they will make bad decisions, like a poor pass that ends up being a turnover.  That’s a win!  And did I mention how much your goalie will appreciate you?

Take a look at this video, where former NJ Devils Defenseman Scott Stevens explains the skill, which is also called “stick on puck”.  The most shocking part of this video to me is the end, where he states that he didn’t learn this skill until his 13th year in the NHL!  Not that surprising, I guess, as Scott Stevens never came to one single Weekend Warriors camp.  If he had, he probably could have been a pretty decent player!

Here are a few key points about blade mirroring:

1) This is a defensive tactic, but it is not just for defenseman.

2) It can be used against any opponent, not just the superstars.

3) Remember one hand on your stick!  This gives you greater reach and mobility.

Try this in your next game and let me know if it doesn’t make a huge difference in your defensive game.

If you like this tip, please pass it on to your friends or post it to social media.

Proper Stick Selection: Is Your $250 Stick Hurting Your Game?

So you just went out and dropped $250 on the latest and greatest stick.  It’s made of 100% carbon fiber and weighs less than the tape you’ve applied to the blade.  So I suppose you’re now blasting the puck like Shea Weber, right?  Whaddya mean, no?!!  Could it be that Shea Weber is 6’4″, 233 lbs. of solid muscle whose full time job is to play hockey.  How tall are you?  What do you weigh?  And how much of your week is spent on the ice?  How about in the gym?

My point is rather simple:  Even if you can afford it, more expensive is not necessarily better.  Ask yourself this:  If you were a size 9 and someone offered you the best skates in the world in a size 12, how much do you think your skating would improve?  Hell, you’d be lucky to be able to stand up straight.  Yet I see a lot of players showing up at camp with sticks that just don’t “fit” them.  Sure you can cut a stick to the appropriate length, but do you realize what that does to the flex?  It actually makes it stiffer.

There are a lot of things to consider in a new stick.  In addition to the price tag, there is flex, curve, lie, grip, durability and more.  But flex is the most important.  Get a stick that is too flexible, and you won’t get much power.  Get one that is too stiff, and you won’t be able to flex it, also resulting in not much power.  You see, much of the power in a shot comes from the potential energy of the stick.  Before you strike the puck on a shot (slap, snap or wrist) you are pushing the stick into the ice.  (If not, then you better get to a WW camp soon!)  As you push the stick into the ice, you are bending it, thus increasing the potential energy in the stick.  Then when the shooting motion continues and the stick strikes the puck, all of that potential energy is released as kinetic energy, transmitted to the puck.  So the key is to match the stiffness of the stick with your ability to bend it while shooting.  A stiffer stick can harness more potential energy.  But if you’re not strong enough to bend it, then the only force you are imparting to the puck is that from the swinging motion.  We see a lot of this at camp, and it makes for a very weak shot.  Conversely, if you have a stick that is too soft or whippy for you, then you are not maximizing the amount of energy you could be imparting on the puck…and you may break a lot of expensive sticks.  If that physics lesson was too geeky for you, let me summarize as follows:

The higher the flex number, the stiffer the stick.  A rough guide on stick stiffness is that the flex number should be about half your weight (in pounds).  Of course, that will vary a bit depending on your strength, but it’s a good starting point.  So if you weigh 170 pounds, an 85 flex would be a good choice, and if you weigh 200 pounds, a 100 flex.  But remember, you can’t necessarily go by the flex printed on the stick.  This is because the flex increases when we cut a stick.  (Note:  Some stick manufacturers will print on the side of the stick (near the top) the flex for different cut points.  This is very helpful.)  So if you are 6′ 2″ tall, you probably don’t cut your stick at all.  In this case, what you see is what you get.  But if you’re like me, 5’8″ in thick socks, and cut anywhere from 2″ to 4″ to get it to a length you like, then you are dramatically increasing the flex of the stick.

I recently dealt with the problem of a stick that was too stiff for me.  I had a few Bauer One70 sticks in a 77 flex that I ordered a few years ago.  They were great.  But my last one finally bit the dust, and it was time to break down and buy a new stick.  I’m too cheap to spend $200 or more in a retail store, so I began scouring the internet for deals.  I found one in an 85 flex at a good price, so I thought I’d give it a try.  But I just wasn’t happy with it, and my shot was terrible.  Because I had cut the stick down 2-3″, the flex was probably around 95 to 100.  I’m not strong enough for that stiffness.  So I went back online.  I finally found a stick with a 75 flex in my price range, and ordered one.  It came a few days later. I cut it down about 2″, which brought the flex up to somewhere around 85, which is ideal for me.  In my next game…Wow, what a difference!  I was immediately shooting the puck with more power and accuracy.  Even my teammates commented on the power of my shot.  I won’t be challenging Shea Weber in a hardest shot competition, but not bad for an old guy of my size.

So it’s less about how much you spend, and more about getting the right flex.  Sure, go ahead and experiment with different curves, lies, grip and lengths.  But above all, make sure that you have a flex that is a good match for your weight/strength.

And for most women (and some smaller men), I recommend Intermediate sticks.  These are in between Junior (for kids) and Senior (for adult males).  Typically they are a few inches shorter (so you don’t need to cut them as much, or at all), and have softer flexes (in the 60-70 range).  As an added bonus, they cost less than senior sticks.

Once you get your new stick, be sure to come to camp and learn how to use it properly!  We’ll get you shooting with greater power and accuracy.


Don’t Be THAT Guy! A rant on douchey players

Don’t Be THAT Guy… that takes a 10 minute shift at pick-up hockey.  The best hockey players in the world, who are also some of the best conditioned athletes on the planet, limit their shifts to 40 seconds, and most beer leaguers inexplicably extend that to about 2 minutes.  But you, Mr. Marathon are truly special.  After all, you paid your $15 to skate, and by golly, you should get your money’s worth!  And sure your teammates are on the bench getting cold while you lazily skate back to the red line (and no farther), but it’s not like these guys are really your teammates. After all, they only became so because they were unfortunate enough to pull the same shade of jersey out of their smelly hockey bag as you pulled out of yours.  And besides that, you are highly skilled…a virtual pick-up hockey all-star.  Too bad they don’t keep stats for pick up hockey, huh?  So just hang out in the neutral zone and wait for those lowly grunts to battle the puck away from the other team and send it up to your golden stick.  Of course, you will eventually come to the bench.  You’re not really tired, since you only skate when someone gives you the puck, and then only half the ice.  But there has to be some limit to your douchiness.  Right?