A little bit about the product
SweetHands Stickhandling Trainer by Sniper’s Edge states it “will greatly improve your speed, timing, eye-hand/stick coordination, precision, and consistency when dangling with a puck or stickhandling ball, and can be used either on or off the ice.” I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical at first, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.
My first impressions
I was expecting some lightweight, flimsy cylinders that could be easily knocked around, but I was impressed with how lightweight they were and how well they stayed in place. I am pretty rough on just about everything I use. The SweetHands trainer can take a bit of a beating and still stay in place. This is a little more true when you are practicing on a street or asphalt. However it slides around a little bit when using it on smooth concrete (nothing to get me frustrated though) and can be fixed with a small rubber piece (eg. mouse pad) on each end. The same can be said when using it on the ice. However, if on the ice, there are small picks/pegs that you can screw onto the bottom of the trainer and it actually stays in place really well.
The material they are made out of is very sturdy and seems like they will last forever. Even the small, built-in hinges seem very durable and will last a while with proper use. They were very easy to assemble. I could stack them (for more precise saucer passes) and they stay stacked pretty well (again, a small piece of rubber will keep this in place better). I like the versatility and countless ways that these can be set up. If you take a look at their videos, it will give you a good idea of how you can set them up for specific skills you may want to train on.
Really the only negative thing about the product was the packaging. By that, I mean that this product will last a while, but the packaging wont. There isn’t really a good way to store these, besides in the box they come in. It would be better if it came in a sturdier package, for example, a corrugated plastic box (like what the post office uses) to make storage last a little more long term.
I decided to try out a few of the training sections on the video like: “expansion of reach”, “forehand toe pulls”, “straight straddle (wide)”, “forward toe pulls”, and “ball flips”. Of course, I tried a couple of my own that I felt I could improve on too.
I play on many different surfaces and wanted to give it a try on just about every surface I could think of. These included, asphalt, smooth concrete, ice, and a plastic shooting pad. I also wanted to give it a try with multiple different training pucks and balls. This included a regular ice puck , roller puck, roller ball, Green Biscuit, Smart Hockey ball, and the Hockey Stickhandling Ball Set (Skillz, Speed, and Ice ball). Hands down my favorite of the sniper edge balls was the Ice Ball. I love that it is clear so you can mainly just focus on the weight of the ball and get your hand-eye coordination down with out having to rely on seeing the ball. I’m also a sucker for the Green Biscuit which was my favorite training puck/ball to use with the SweetHands Stickhandling Trainer.
I like how I can take this product just about anywhere. I was able to test this out on the aforementioned surfaces because of how easy it is to transport. I actually keep it in my work truck so I can practice a little bit on my lunch break wherever I go.
My favorite surface to test this out was smooth concrete (similar to a skate park) while using either the ice ball or the Green biscuit. This gave a pretty close feel to ice with out actually being on the ice. Of course, the closest way to train for stick handling on ice is to get some ice time. I have a hard time making my schedule work with the rink’s, so this was the next best option. I imagine that is the case for some of our readers too and this provides a more cost effective alternative.
I spend the majority of my hockey time on the ice and was glad I was able to fit some ice time in to try this out. Without a doubt, this is SO MUCH BETTER than having to set up a line of pucks! I wanted to get quicker with my dangling, try a few different moves, and overall just get better with my stickhandling. However, if I have a line of pucks, I guarantee I will be setting them up again every other time. Of course, the best way to train for ice hockey is with an ice hockey puck on the ice, but SweetHands on a few of the other surfaces with the right ball/puck actually feel pretty dang close.
The training was great for ice, but I also wanted to get better with a roller puck and ball. I was able to use a roller puck, roller ball, and the Sniper’s Edge Ball Set to help with my stickhandling for roller too. Since a roller puck or ball is a decent amount lighter than an ice puck, I found that the Speed ball helped me the most. I wanted to develop a little quicker hands for those sneaky dekes and dangles. It was fun trying out some of the videos I mentioned above and overall, helped me improve my skills and speed a decent amount.
As with anything, all this takes practice and doesn’t happen overnight. However, the SweetHands trainer does a good job in helping you develop and perfect your speed and skills when stickhandling at any level for roller or ice.
Cons: packaging and slips on some surfaces.
Is it worth it? Yes. For $99.99USD, you will be using this for years to come. It’s such an easy product to use and any one at any level could benefit from it.