Want to practice your stickhandling at home? This is a skill that even the best players continue to develop. Personally, I SUCK at is trying to keep my head up while carrying the puck. Using a stickhandling ball at home has helped me get used to feeling the puck on the end of my stick. I’m hoping one day I can carry the puck with my head up the whole time, but I’m not quite there yet. Maybe this is a skill you want to improve, or maybe your working on something else. A stickhandling ball can help you get accustomed to the length of your stick and how far it can reach, it can help you get used to sliding your hands while keeping your stick blade parallel to the ground, and it can help you develop muscle strength and familiarity.
Why a Ball and Not a Puck?
Pucks are great, but unless you can find a smooth surface, they don’t slide very well. Probably the most versatile puck for practicing stickhandling is the Green Biscuit, which we’ve reviewed in the past, but it doesn’t work on every surface. A ball can go places a puck can’t; the carpet, for example. A ball allows you to practice at home, even in front of the TV if you want.
Different Options for Different Skills
The good folks at hockeytrain sent us a couple products to review. You can view all their stickhandling pucks and balls here. Below is a list of the different training balls and the pros and cons for each.
Swedish Stickhandling Balls
We’ll start with the Swedish Stickhandling Ball. What makes them Swedish you ask? I had the same question. Here is the history, according to the website:
About 15 years ago North American hockey players started to copy the Swedish players who used wooden balls to practice their stick handling. The North American players did not have access to the wooden balls so they began using golf balls instead. Many College and NHL Players who have been using a golf ball say that they prefer using the wooden balls because they do not bounce as much as the golf ball.
I prefer a wooden ball over a golf ball for the same reason. We’ve written about using a wooden ball for stickhandling before, but the balls we picked up were a little smaller. The Swedish Training Balls are slightly larger than a golf ball, but much lighter. Because they are lightweight, they move as fast as your hands do, which may or may not be a good thing. Personally, I need to improve my precision before I increase my speed. If you’re still working on the fundamentals, you may want to hold off on the Swedish stickhandling ball. However, if you have the basics down and you want to speed things up, this product is perfect. You can pick it up a 5-pack here, they run about $3 each.
Steel Hockey Ball
This thing is a beast. I’m not sure where they found this, but it looks like a ball bearing that came out of industrial machinery. The steel ball weights nearly a pound and a half. That’s the equivalent of about four pucks! If you are trying to get used to feeling the puck on the end of your stick without looking down, start here. You can’t miss it. This ball is perfect for practicing slow, deliberate movements. I’ve tried adding weight to the end of my stick, and that worked OK, but I prefer using a weighted ball. After playing around with this thing for a short time, I could feel my forearms burning. Use this if you want to practice the fundamentals of stickhandling while targeting the right muscles. Just don’t use it while barefoot, it could do some serious damage if you dropped it on your toes. If you want to incorporate a steel ball into your hockey training routine, HockeyTrain sells them.
For those who just want to cut to the chase:
If you can pretty much feel a puck on the end of your stick without looking down want to improve your stickhandling speed, use the wooden Swedish stickhandling ball.
If you are still getting used to the feeling the puck on the end of your stick and/or want to build strength, use the steel hockey ball.
If you want something in the middle, use a Smart Hockey training ball, a product we’ve previously reviewed.