Control Skills are a group of skills used in the game that a player uses to have uncontested control of the ball for the benefit of the team.
Uncontested Control means the player has the time to Look Up and Make a Decision no matter how much pressure they may be under.
Control Skills is not about dribbling nor are they about just running with the ball.
Control Skills are group of skills that are learned in a sequence that build upon each other.
Anyone who has learned how to juggle knows that learning how to juggle starts with just one ball. Developing a Control Skill can only be done properly if the player begins slowly and then increases the speed until they can do the skill at full speed or game speed. Every hand-eye coordination skill is developed this way.
We can learn about developing Control Skills from other sports. This video from basketball, Dribbling skills with Pistol Pete Maravich, shows us that very basics skills are learned first and done slowly, and then at lightning speed after they have become a “natural” movement.
In the video, Maravich uses the term, “Homework Basketball”, which means he did his skills practice at home away from practice.
“Homework Hockey” is what each hockey player should be encouraged to do.
Beyond how impressive the execution of certain basic skills is in this basketball video, we learn the following:
- When you do your Homework Basketball, the basketball becomes an extension of the hand.
- In hockey, the stick is an extension of our hands so we should experience our Control Skills as though we are controlling the ball with our hands.
- Maravich says that as he improved, “he never had to look at the basketball”, which is the Platinum Level of Control Skills in hockey.
- When you have great Control Skills, you have confidence because you know you have an advantage over your opponent
- The coach in the basketball video says you must only do drills that have a direct application to what you do in the game.
Every player, from youth to masters, should be doing their Homework Hockey.
Peter D’Cruz is the founder of the Hockey Curriculum for Players & Coaches.