Learning Basic Skills:
How and When to Pass the Puck

Knowing how and when to pass the puck is a skill that separates the great hockey players from the average ones. Every player wants to be the one who scores the goal, but a player who can pass when necessary is worth more to the team. For young players, this concept can be a difficult thing to even consider. They play hockey for those glorious moments that they have the puck and the chance to score a goal. And now we’re telling them to pass it so someone else has the chance to score? Don’t worry… As young players progress in both level and age, they begin to see the value in moving and passing the puck.

Learning when and why to pass takes time for some players, but here are some tips to remember:
1. Do not take a shot just because you happen to have the puck.
2. Obviously, you first want to look for the shot, but if you don’t have one, you’ll need to look for a pass.
3. Make sure that your passes have purpose. You don’t want to move the puck just for the sake of passing.
4. If the recipient is no better off to make a move, then the pass loses its value.
5. Your target will be moving and so will you. Keep their speed, your speed and the speed of the puck in mind.

The following instructions are written from the perspective of a right handed player.
Use the forehand pass when your open teammate is on the opposite of your dominate hand (receiver should be on your left side if you are a right-handed shooter and vice versa). Otherwise, use the backhand pass.

For the forehand pass, be sure that you have proper grip on the stick. The top hand should be at the butt-end of the stick and your hands should be a forearm length apart with your shoulders up and knees bent. With the puck on your blade move both hands in the direction of your target. Be sure to keep your stick in contact with the puck, but avoid swinging your stick in an arc, which will cause you to release the puck inadvertently. Start with the puck behind your back foot and sweep the puck while shifting your weight from your back leg to your front leg in a pushing motion. With both the forehand pass and the backhand pass, your stick should follow straight through the line. Keep your stick low to the ice and sweep the pass (rather than shooting it) to avoid an airborne puck that will bounce and can be easily missed.

The backhand pass is similar to the forehand pass except that it is made using the backside of the blade. For the backhand pass, be sure that you have proper grip on the stick. Place your right hand midway down the stick with your left hand at the butt-end. Start with the puck behind your back foot and sweep the puck, keeping it on the middle straight section of the blade close to the shaft. Rotate your wrist so the blade tilts slightly over your puck. Shift your weight to the leg closest to the puck.

Regardless of the type of pass, be sure to keep your eyes on your target. Your arm can then follow your line of sight to achieve your goal. Also remember that your target is moving, so your eyes should actually be on the spot they will be in when the puck reaches them not where they are when you start the pass. Keep their speed in mind as well as the speed of the puck.


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