Often, players glamorize the visually-impressive act of dangling in a phonebooth, through sticks and skates en route to scoring a highlight reel goal. But sometimes, this volume of stickhandling is unnecessary and even counterproductive.
Enter the concept of ‘underhanding’. Underhandling and puck positioning are similar topics. Puck positioning is how a player holds the puck when in possession. Underhandling is a tactic within puck positioning that avoids dribbling the puck.
What is overhandling?
Players will often over-dribble the puck and get caught in awkward spots where they are prone to turnovers or unable to make a play.
What is Underhandling?
For example, players would simply push the puck around the ice rather than dribbling/stickhandling the puck around the ice.
The goal is to minimize time handling the puck so the puck can be passed or shot quicker. This allows players and teams to play fast. The soft catch is a great example.
When to Underhandle?
Players either catch directly into a puck position off their reception, or move their feet to put their hands, body, and puck in a better position to make the next play.
Surrounding the Puck
Notice how players keep the puck on their forehand, catch into a ready spot and/or skate around the puck, and are able to make a quick play.
1. Defensive zone puck retrievals