Skip to content

Mastering Ice Hockey Skills: A Comprehensive Guide

If you want to learn all the ice hockey skills, you will require hard work, focus, dedication, and practice. All the necessary skills take time to develop, but consistent training and a commitment to improve yourself, help you in becoming a skilled hockey player. Let’s read and understand some of the essential skills needed to become a pro hockey player.

Skating Skills

Skating is the foundation of ice hockey, and without this, you won’t be able to play the game effectively. Following are the key skating skills that are essential for ice hockey:

  • Balance and Edge Control
  • Forward Skating
  • Backward Skating
  • Crossovers
  • Stops and Starts



Balance and Edge Control 

Balance is the most fundamental skating skill, and it involves maintaining a stable and centered position on your skates. Edge control is the ability to shift your weight from one skate to the other, which is necessary for changing direction and making turns.

Forward Skating

Forward skating is the most basic skating skill in ice hockey. It involves pushing off with one skate and gliding on the other. Players are needed to skate forwards with speed and agility to be more effective in the game.

Backward Skating 

Backward skating is another essential skating skill for ice hockey. It involves pushing off with one skate and gliding backward on the other. Players need to be able to skate backward with speed and agility to defend against opponents and make quick transitions.


Crossovers are a skating maneuver that involves crossing one skate over the other while skating forward or backward. Crossovers are essential for changing directions quickly and efficiently.

Stops and Starts 

Stopping and starting are important skating skills for ice hockey. Players need to be able to stop quickly to change directions or avoid collisions. Starting quickly is essential for gaining speed and making fast breaks down the ice.

For more clarity, take a look at below table. This table contains a list of essential skating skills for hockey players, including definitions, importance, and ice hockey skating drills to practice.

Skating Skills in Hockey

Skating SkillDefinitionImportanceDrills
Forward SkatingMoving forward on the ice using a stride or crossover step.Essential for skating up the ice, generating speed, and creating scoring opportunities.Circle drills, power skating drills, and cone drills.
Backward SkatingMoving backward on the ice using a backward stride.Important for defending and transitioning from offense to defense.Backward crossovers, backward skating drills, and pivot drills.
Edge ControlThe ability to skate on the inside and outside edges of the blades for better maneuverability.Essential for changing direction quickly and making tight turns.Edge control drills, figure eight drills, and cone drills.
Quick StartsThe ability to accelerate quickly from a stationary position.Important for winning races to the puck and creating breakaway opportunities.Sprint starts, explosive starts, and reaction time drills.
Tight TurnsThe ability to make quick, tight turns at high speeds.Important for evading defenders and changing direction quickly.Tight turn drills, figure skating drills, and cone drills.
PivotingThe ability to change direction quickly by pivoting on one foot.Essential for transitioning from offense to defense and defending in tight spaces.Pivot drills, backward pivots, and agility ladder drills.

Stick Handling Skills

Stick handling skills refer to the abilities that ice hockey players need to control the puck with their sticks while skating on the ice. These skills involve various techniques and movements, such as dribbling, deking, puck protection, and quick release, among others. Strong stick handling skills are essential for players to maintain possession of the puck, create scoring opportunities, and avoid turnovers.

Stick and puck

I’ve shared a table below which provides a comprehensive list of stick handling skills in ice hockey, including definitions, tips, and drills to help players improve their stick handling abilities on the ice.

Stick Handling Skills in Ice Hockey

Stick Handling SkillDefinitionTipsDrills
DribblingKeeping control of the puck while skatingKeep your head up, use small, quick movements with the stickDribbling progressions, obstacle courses, cone drills
Toe DragMoving the puck with the toe of the stick bladeUse a quick, smooth motion to pull the puck back with the toe of the bladeToe drag progressions, stickhandling through obstacles, one-on-one drills
DekeFaking out an opponent to gain an advantageUse your body and stick to fake out the defender, keep your eyes upDeke progressions, one-on-one drills, offensive zone drills
Puck ProtectionShielding the puck from defendersKeep your body between the puck and the defender, use your body and stick to maintain possessionPuck protection progressions, one-on-one drills, battle drills
FakesUsing fake movements to confuse defendersUse quick, deceptive movements with the stick to fake out the defenderFake progressions, one-on-one drills, offensive zone drills
Quick ReleaseReleasing the puck quickly to catch the goalie off guardKeep the puck close to your body, use a quick release with the stickQuick release progressions, shooting drills, offensive zone drills
Receiving PassesSuccessfully accepting passes from teammatesKeep your stick on the ice, receive the pass on the blade of the stickReceiving pass progressions, passing accuracy drills, one-on-one drills
Backhand ControlMaintaining control of the puck with the backhand side of the bladeKeep your wrist firm, use small, quick movements with the stickBackhand control progressions, stickhandling through obstacles, one-on-one drills
Tight TurnsMaking sharp turns while maintaining control of the puckKeep your head up, use your body and stick to make tight turnsTight turn progressions, obstacle courses, cone drills
One-Handed ControlMaintaining control of the puck with one hand on the stickUse quick, controlled movements with the stick, keep your balanceOne-handed control progressions, stickhandling through obstacles, one-on-one drills

Shooting Skills

Shooting is another critical skill for ice hockey. Most of the times winning and losing a game is dependent on a good shot as it make a lot of difference. Here are some of the shooting skills (shots) that every ice hockey player should master:


Wrist Shot 

The wrist shot is the most basic shot in ice hockey. It involves shooting the puck with a quick snap of the wrist, using the top hand to guide the puck.

Slap Shot 

The slap shot is a more powerful shot that involves winding up and hitting the puck with a full swing of the stick. It requires good timing, balance, and follow-through.

Snap Shot

The snap shot is a quick, low-release shot that requires less windup than the slap shot. It is a versatile shot used in many situations during the game.

Backhand Shot 

This is more difficult shot in which players have to shoot the puck while facing away from the net. It is a useful tool for surprising the goaltender and scoring goals.

A comprehensive table outlining key shooting skills in hockey, including definitions, tips, and drills to help players improve their offensive capabilities and become more effective scorers on the ice.

Essential Hockey Shooting Skills

Shooting SkillDefinitionTipsDrills
Wrist ShotQuick, low shot with a flick of the wristKeep eyes on target, transfer weight to front footWrist shot progressions, shooting in stride, one-timers
Snap ShotQuick, low shot with quick releaseLoad stick, follow through towards targetSnap shot progressions, shooting off the pass, accuracy drills
Slap ShotPowerful, high shot with windup and follow-throughKeep knees bent, transfer weight from back foot to front footSlap shot progressions, shooting off the boards, power drills
Backhand ShotShot taken with backhand side of stickKeep blade closed, follow through towards targetBackhand shot progressions, shooting off the backhand pass, quick release drills
One-timersShot taken off a pass without stopping the puckGet into position early, focus on timing and accuracyOne-timer progressions, shooting off the pass, redirection drills
Deke ShotsFake a shot and then shootKeep puck in shooting position after the fake, shoot quicklyDeke shot progressions, fake shots, shooting in stride
Rebound ShotsShot taken off a rebound from a saveFollow the puck to the net, shoot quicklyRebound shot progressions, net-front presence drills
Wraparound ShotsShot taken while skating around the netProtect the puck, shoot quickly while close to the postWraparound shot progressions, close-range shooting drills
Deflection ShotsShot redirected by a stick or bodyGet into position for the deflection, direct the puck towards the netDeflection shot progressions, redirecting drills

Passing Skills

Passing is an essential skill in ice hockey. It involves moving the puck from one to another and is important for setting up scoring opportunities. Here are some of the passing skills that every ice hockey player should master:

Forehand Pass 

The forehand pass is the most basic pass in ice hockey. It involves pushing the puck with the blade of the stick while facing the target.

Backhand Pass

The backhand pass is a more difficult pass that requires players to pass the puck while facing away from the target. It is useful for surprising opponents and creating scoring opportunities.

Saucer Pass

The saucer pass is a pass that is lifted off the ice, allowing the puck to float over sticks and skates. It is a useful tool for making passes through traffic.

One-Touch Pass 

The one-touch pass is a pass that is received and passed in one motion, without stopping the puck. It requires good timing and hand-eye coordination.

Below table provides a comprehensive list of passing skills in ice hockey, along with concise definitions, helpful tips, and effective drills for players to improve their passing abilities on the ice.

Passing Skills in Ice Hockey

Passing SkillDefinitionTipsDrills
Forehand PassPass made with the front side of the stick bladeKeep the blade on the ice, follow through towards targetForehand pass progressions, passing accuracy drills
Backhand PassPass made with the backhand side of the stick bladeKeep the blade closed, follow through towards targetBackhand pass progressions, passing accuracy drills
Saucer PassPass made with a lifting motion to clear an obstacleUse a quick, lifting motion with the bladeSaucer pass progressions, passing over obstacles, accuracy drills
Drop PassPass made to a teammate skating behind youCommunicate, drop the puck backwards with the stickDrop pass progressions, timing drills, passing under pressure
Bank PassPass made off the boards to a teammateAngle the pass off the boards towards your teammate, communicateBank pass progressions, accuracy drills, passing off the boards
One-touch PassPass made with a single touch of the puckAnticipate, move into position, make a quick touch passOne-touch pass progressions, timing drills, passing in stride
Give-and-Go PassPass made to a teammate who immediately passes backCommunicate, move into open space after making the initial passGive-and-go progressions, passing under pressure, offensive zone passing drills
Cross-Ice PassPass made across the width of the rinkIdentify open teammates, use a quick, hard passCross-ice pass progressions, passing accuracy drills, power play drills
Flip PassPass made with a flipping motion to lift the puck over defendersUse a quick, flicking motion with the bladeFlip pass progressions, passing over defenders, accuracy drills
Bounce PassPass made with a bouncing motion to surprise defendersAngle the pass off the ice to create a bounce, communicateBounce pass progressions, passing under pressure, accuracy drills

Checking Skills

These skills are a fundamental part of ice hockey. It involves making physical contact with opposing players to gain possession of the puck. There are various types of checking skills that players must master, including body checking and stick checking, along with proper positioning for defense.

Body Checking

Body checking is a crucial aspect of checking in ice hockey and involves using the body to separate the opponent from the puck. It is important to use legal and safe contact to avoid penalties and injuries. Proper technique and timing are crucial for effective body checking.

Stick checking 

Stick checking involves using the stick to take the puck away from an opponent or disrupt their play. Stick checking requires good hand-eye coordination and stick-handling skills.

Proper Positioning

Proper positioning is also essential for effective checking. Players must be in the right position to anticipate the play and make effective checks. This involves maintaining proper spacing between opponents, positioning oneself to take away passing lanes, and being aware of the opposition’s movements.

I’ve created a concise table outlining various checking skills in ice hockey along with brief definitions, tips, and drills to help players improve their abilities.

Checking SkillDefinitionTipsDrills
Stick CheckingDisrupting opponent's stick or puck control with stickKeep stick on ice, use controlled movements, aim for blade or handsStick checking, defensive zone, 1-on-1 drills
Poke CheckingPoking puck away from opponent with stickKeep stick on ice, use controlled movements, aim for puckPoke checking, defensive zone, 1-on-1 drills
PinningHolding opponent against boards or ice with bodyUse body to pin opponent, maintain control and balancePinning, 1-on-1, battle drills
Gap ControlMaintaining proper distance and positioning from opponentKeep proper distance, use body and stick to maintain gapGap control, 1-on-1, defensive zone drills
Checking TimingEffectively checking opponent based on body language and movementsRead opponent, time check, use proper techniqueChecking timing, 1-on-1, game simulations
Body CheckingSeparating opponent from puck using bodyKeep head up, use legs and core, aim for hipsBody checking, 1-on-1, positional drills
AnglingForcing opponent to less desirable area with body positioningKeep body between opponent and goal, angle towards boardsAngling, 1-on-1, defensive zone drills
Active StickDisrupting passing lanes and blocking shots with stickKeep stick active, anticipate movements, aim for puck or passing lanesActive stick, defensive zone, penalty killing drills

Goaltending Skills

Goaltending is a crucial position in ice hockey. Goalies must possess a combination of mental and physical skills to become successful. Along with technical skills, they must also be equipped with the right hockey equipment to protect themselves while in the net.


Goaltender Equipment

Goaltenders wear specialized equipment to protect themselves from shots and other physical contact on the ice. This includes a mask, chest protector, leg pads, glove, and blocker. Goaltenders must also wear a specially designed goalie stick to assist them in making saves.

Developing your ice hockey skills takes time, practice, and dedication. But don’t forget about your safety on the ice – head protection is crucial. Check out our guide on how to pick and buy the best hockey helmet to ensure you’re fully protected while honing your skills.

Basic Stance

The basic stance is an essential aspect of goaltending. A goaltender must maintain proper balance and positioning to be able to make saves effectively. The basic stance involves bending at the knees and waist, keeping the stick in front of the body, and positioning the glove and blocker in front of the body to be ready for shots.

Movement in the Crease

Goaltenders must also be able to move effectively in the crease to make saves on shots from different angles. They must be able to move laterally and quickly for reacting to shots. Proper footwork and agility are essential for movement in the crease.

Save Techniques

Goaltenders must be proficient in various save techniques to be able to make saves effectively. The most common save techniques include the butterfly, glove save, blocker save, and pad save. Each technique requires proper positioning and execution to be effective.

Advanced Goaltending

Advanced goaltending involves more complex techniques and strategies. This includes playing the puck, using angles to cut down on the net’s size, and anticipating plays to make saves effectively.

Goaltending SkillDefinitionTipsDrills
PositioningMaintaining proper position in net based on game situationRead play, be aware of positioning, move efficientlyPositioning, game simulations, goalie-specific drills
SkatingEfficient movement on skates to make saves and move around the creaseUse edges, maintain balance and control, be quick and agileSkating, goalie-specific drills, game simulations
Puck HandlingAbility to handle and pass the puck as a goaltenderCommunicate with defense, make smart passes, be aware of game situationPuck handling, game simulations, goalie-specific drills
Rebound ControlAbility to control rebounds and limit second chances for opponentsDirect rebounds to safe areas, be aware of position of opponents, communicate with defenseRebound control, game simulations, goalie-specific drills
Save SelectionKnowing which save to use based on shot location and typeRead play, be aware of shooter's tendencies, use proper techniqueSave selection, game simulations, goalie-specific drills
AnglesProperly positioning body and stick to take away angles from shootersBe aware of position of puck and shooter, move efficiently to take away anglesAngles, game simulations, goalie-specific drills
ButterflyProper technique to make saves by dropping down to knees and covering lower part of netUse proper technique, be quick to recover, maintain balance and controlButterfly, goalie-specific drills, game simulations
Glove HandAbility to make saves with glove handProper technique, anticipate shot, be quick and controlledGlove hand, goalie-specific drills, game simulations
Blocker HandAbility to make saves with blocker handProper technique, anticipate shot, be quick and controlledBlocker hand, goalie-specific drills, game simulations

Fitness and Conditioning 

Fitness and conditioning are critical components of ice hockey performance. The role of nutrition in ice hockey is also critical, as it affects player fitness. Players have to be in very good physical condition so the fast-paced and physically demanding nature of the sport can also be endured. Now let’s understand how fitness and conditioning is an important aspect in ice hockey.

Fitness and Conditioning

How fitness affects performance?

Fitness is crucial for ice hockey performance. Several aspects of the game are affected by it, including endurance, speed, agility, strength, and recovery. Players in good physical condition can easily maintain a high level performance throughout the game. Besides this, they also recover quickly between shifts. A fit player will undoubtedly have superior ice hockey skills than an unfit player.

Pre-game warm-up 

For preparing the body for the intense physical demands of ice hockey, a pre-game warm-up is very crucial.A proper warm-up routine helps in increasing flexibility, reduceing the risk of injury, and improving reaction time.

Off-ice conditioning 

It involves exercises and activities that players do outside of practice and games to improve their physical fitness. This includes activities such as weightlifting, cardio exercises, and agility drills. To know more, read my guide on Off-Ice Training for Hockey

In-season training 

It is essential for maintaining physical fitness throughout the season. This can involve incorporating exercises and drills into regular practices to maintain fitness levels and reduce the risk of injury.

Check out below table. This table provides a concise overview of the key skills and their importance in ice hockey

Fitness and Conditioning SkillsDescriptionImportance
RecoveryTechniques for avoiding injury and staying healthyEssential for avoiding burnout over the season
EnduranceSustained high levels of energy throughout gameEssential for avoiding fatigue
BalanceControl over body positioningEssential for maintaining control
FlexibilityEase of movement in joints and musclesEssential for preventing injuries
AgilityChange direction quickly and move around obstaclesImportant for evading defenders
SpeedQuickness in skating and movementImportant for gaining an edge over opponents
PowerAbility to generate force quicklyImportant for shooting and checking
StrengthExert force and resist opponentsImportant for winning puck battles and maintaining balance

Frequently Asked Questions on Ice Hockey Skills

What are mental skills in ice hockey?

Mental skills in ice hockey include focus, resilience, confidence, emotional control, visualization, goal-setting, and mental toughness.

What is the basic skill in ice hockey?

The basic skill in ice hockey is skating. Players should be able to move quickly and efficiently on the ice in order to pass, shoot, and defend.

What makes a fast hockey player?

Several factors contribute to making a fast hockey player. These include strong and explosive leg muscles, good skating technique, agility, balance, coordination, and good anticipation and decision-making skills.

What core skills are important for a hockey player?

Core skills that are important for a hockey player to have include skating, stickhandling, passing, shooting, checking, teamwork, and physical conditioning.

As you develop your ice hockey skills, equipping yourself with the best gear from top brands is crucial for maximizing your performance and safety. Check out our extensive guide on the top hockey brands to make informed choices when selecting the equipment that best supports your progress on the ice.


So, these were some of the very important Ice hockey skills that one one must conquer for becoming a pro player. For achieving these skills, focus and dedicated practice sessions are very important. By this players can improve their skills and become valuable assets to their teams.

Always remember that if you want to master the ice hockey skills it will take time, patience, and hard work. With dedication and practice, players can improve their skills and become successful on the ice. 

Master the Game: Helmets, Tips, Rules, and More!

Unlock the secrets of ice hockey success with our comprehensive resources. Discover the different types of hockey helmets to protect yourself on the ice, gain a competitive edge with valuable tips, understand the rules of the game, and grasp the concept and strategic impact of icing in hockey.

Equip yourself with the knowledge and gear needed to master the game of ice hockey. Select the right helmet for optimal protection, gain a competitive edge with proven tips and tactics, understand the rules, and grasp the strategic importance of icing in hockey. Let us guide you towards success on the ice.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Oh hey there 👋 We're thrilled to cross paths with you.

Join our lively community for the latest updates, awesome content, and the freshest news from the rink.

No spam, just hockey. Subscribe now

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Join our Contest and win $100 worth of Organic Cooking herbs