Why Practice Slip Unders? Reason #4 - Bottom Hand Slide

Why Practice Slip Unders? Reason #4 - Bottom Hand Slide

Recent blog posts have described Reactive and Aggressive reasons to work on slip under moves. These are reasons to do slip under moves in game situations. Today the focus is much less on using slip under moves in games. Instead, the idea is that we should work on slip under moves as a way to place focus on our skill with respect to "bottom hand slide" in our puckhandling.

Younger skaters can struggle to handle the puck with a loose bottom hand when appropriate. They tend to play with a tight grip with both the top and bottom hand. That is a good thing with respect to the top hand, but, when it comes to the bottom hand, our grip needs to vary. At times, such as when shooting or when we need to be strong on the puck, the bottom hand should be gripping tight. But, when executing fine puck control, the bottom hand should usually be loose and often needs to be changing position on the stick.

As a tight grip with the bottom hand is the most common default for a player, tight grip typically does not need to be trained. Instead, developing skills in which the bottom hand is loose and, in particular, sliding along the shaft of the stick, tends to be the target for improving our habits with the bottom hand.

A good way to do this is simply to work on wide pulls or simple fake-wide moves where the player fakes one way with the puck before going wide the other way. On these, the best way to get maximum reach wide, at least on the forehand side, is to slide the bottom hand up to the top of the stick right next to the top hand.

A hockey coach demonstrating slip under technique and, in particular, bottom-hand-slide enabled wide-reach extension at the exit of the move

But, another great way to teach bottom hand slide is to work on slip unders. In slip unders, when the puck is going underneath the opponent's stick and we need to reach across to control it on the other side, we must evade their stick with our stick. There are a bunch of lazy ways to do this, but the technically most effective way involves pulling the stick through the bottom hand to get the stick up and around the opponent's stick and then pushing it back through that bottom hand to reach out to the puck on the other side.

Effectively, pulling the stick through the bottom hand causes that bottom hand to slide toward the blade of the stick. So, this is the opposite direction of slide compared to the wide reach and of course we want to get good at both.

Check out this video to see how bottom hand slide fits into slip-under-based training.

Bottom hand slide is a skill we want to develop for our players in the long term and slip under work is a great way to target it!

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