How Does Slip Under Training Fit Into Overall Hockey Development?
This blog post is inaugurating the Hockey Development Insights blog on the FÉNIX online store! Thank you for your interest and we would love to address your questions and comments if any come to mind (reach out with them here)!
Kicking things off, lets define a slip under move as a move where the puck carrier uses the space underneath the defender's stick as a path to move the puck from one side of the defender's body to the other. Also, in order to finish the move, the puck carrier must control the puck after it reaches the other side. This is what makes slip unders difficult. Doing this means the puck carrier must work their stick in tight to their own body to get it around the defender's stick. At game speed against a live defender, this is hard. But, it can be worth it!
How often should this be used a game? Normally, we like to keep the puck out of defenders' stick zones. Is it really a good idea to intentionally work the puck into the stick zone? These are good questions and they are getting at the idea of questioning how well this class of moves fits in the modern game.
Because it is rare in hockey to see high-risk puckhandling moves used in game situations, one could argue that this class of moves does not fit into the modern game well at all. Yet it is common to see them worked on in practice. What gives?
Two ideas can justify this discrepancy:
1. Even though they are rare in games, high-risk moves can lead to a huge payoff in games if they can outright beat a defender. So, even if they aren't used often, they can have a large impact.
2. Puckhandling skill, in general, is valuable. Once good habits are in place, fancier, high-risk, moves are a great way to challenge players to force their skill to continue to grow.
I think the second idea is the most relevant in explaining why so much time is dedicated to higher risk moves in hockey practice settings.
In upcoming blog posts we will be dissecting the risks, rewards, and nuances of aspects of slip under puckhandling element by element to clear up some of the controversy over the current use (overuse?) of slip-under-based challenges in practices and clinics. Stick with us and you'll soon understand both the legitimate objections to this trend and the reasons why keeping in mind the nervous system's response to motor control challenges tells us that even if you never use a slip under move in a game, you may still benefit greatly from working on slip under skill in practice situations!