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How to Protect a Hockey Puck

by Keugene Lee

Step by step advice from the sports world

Want to learn how to protect a hockey puck like Sidney Crosby? Well, I'll tell you (obviously). This is one of the many basic skills in the sports world. If you do everything I tell you, you'll soon know how to jump serve a volleyball, perform a proper golf swing, shoot a basketball, throw a perfect spiral, and so much more. But don't forget that you won't successfully accomplish anything on your first try. Keep on practicing and you'll be able to tell your friends that you know how do to the same techniques as the pros.

How to 

Throw a Perfect Spiral

Like Tom Brady

  Grip the ball properly

The first step to throwing a perfect spiral is to hold the ball correctly. Move your fingers to the last lace of the football until only your ring and pinky fingers are on the laces. You should be gripping 2-4 laces.

Throwing a perfect spiral is one of the most important techniques for a quarterback to master. It’s easier for a receiver to haul in because the consistent spin makes the ball much more predictable. A veteran quarterback can pretty much decide where they want to throw the ball because of the accuracy a spiral provides.

2   Use your legs

A lot of your power comes from your legs. Put most of your weight on your back foot and step forwards with your non-dominant foot. Your legs should have a slight bend to them. 

5   Release the ball

When you release the football, “flip” your wrist. This is by FAR, the most important aspect to getting the ball spun perfectly. When you let go of the ball, your thumb should be pointing down.

3   Start the throw

Accurately line up your receiver. Step towards your target and transfer your weight to your front foot. As you step, bring your arm up. When you turn your hip, your body should be visible to your target.

4   Arm action

Move your dominant arm straight back and make sure that your elbow is above your shoulder. Keep your elbow at a 90 degree angle.

How To

Protect a Hockey Puck

Like Sidney Crosby

1   Position your body

Put yourself between the defender and the puck. By doing this, the defender won’t be able to steal the puck without going around you. If they do try to get the puck by attempting to do this, you can just turn away, as you will learn in this next step.

Protecting a hockey puck is one the most essential skills a players needs to know to be a threat on the ice. The main point of puck protection is to create time and space to make a play.  Many players turnover the puck in tight positions. You can keep the puck out of the opponents’ sticks a lot longer knowing some certain techniques.

2   Keep control of the puck

The puck will be stolen away from you if it’s more than an arms-length away from you. Remember to keep your head up to so you can see where your teammates are and to avoid getting blasted by someone from the enemy team.

3   Bait your defender

You can create separation by just turning around. You’ll need to “bait” your defender into thinking that you’re going one way. If you’re in front of the net and a defense-man is the one thing keeping you from scoring, you can do the bait technique and spin to get a much easier shot. 

5   Get physical!

With your hips and upper body, kind of bump into your opponent, or in some cases, opponents. This is crucial to protecting the puck in busy areas, such as in front of the goal. But don’t be reckless and lose the puck when doing this, as that is the complete opposite of what you are trying to do.

4   Breakaway protection

Having a handle on the puck when going for a breakaway is essential. If someone from the other team is trying to take the puck, switch your handle on the stick to the hand furthest away from the defender. Keep the puck within arms length at all times. Have your legs a bit more apart from each other than they usually are so that you’re more stable if someone crashes into you.

How to

Throw a Curveball

Like Clayton Kershaw

1   Get the correct hold on the ball

Although there are many ways to grip a curveball, this is probably the most common way to hold it. Turn the ball so that the seams create an upside down U. Place your middle finger along the right side seam with your index finger right next to it. Lay your thumb on the opposite side seam. The ball should be mostly held with your thumb and your middle finger.

A curveball is one of the most popular type of pitches among pitchers and can leave batters bamboozled. It has a forward spin to it which causes an abrupt drop as it nears the plate. Although you may want to try throwing this pitch, doctors recommend that you only use the curveball if you’re at least 13-14 years old because if you throw the pitch incorrectly, your arm can get seriously damaged as it is still growing at younger ages.

2   Slow down

Follow every step of the motion. Rushing it will cause you to be inconsistent with your pitch. If you’re throwing the ball too high, you can use a shorter stride.

5    Don't snap your wrist!

You can break your wrist if you snap it down when you throw the pitch. Remember that your fingers are the main things making the ball spin, not your wrist. Twisting your arm can cause problems to it and you may never be able to pitch again.

3   The arm movement

Your arm motion when throwing a curveball SHOULD NOT be the same as your arm action when pitching a fastball. To get the pitch to curve better, you’ll have to release the ball closer to your body than you normally would. 

4   "Short-hand" the ball

Throw the ball as close to your body as possible so that your middle finger can have a better grip on the seams. Your fingers have to roll off the ball to create the spin.

6   Follow through

The follow-through is a crucial aspect of getting the ball to spin. Bring your arm all the way down your body and make sure that the back of your hand is visible to the batter after you throw the ball. 

3   Toss the ball

How you toss the ball may affect how you serve. Release the ball at around ear level. Keep your arm straight and continue to keep it up in the air after you have tossed the ball. How high you throw the ball is really your preference.

How to

Serve a Tennis Ball

Like Serena Williams

2   Grasp the racket

Hold the racket as if you were holding someone’s hand. Your index finger should be going across the middle back side of the handle. If this doesn’t feel right for you, there are many other grips that you can try out.

1   Get in a starting poition

Your left foot needs to point towards to the tennis post furthest away from you. Your right foot should be side by side with the baseline. If you’re a lefty, do the opposite.

Having a lethal tennis serve can get you some vital points in a match. A tennis ball is served many times and is a big part of the game. Many pros like Roger Federer and the Williams sisters can get out of sticky situations with their dominant serves. Not knowing how to do this technique properly can be the difference of winning or losing a round.

6   Finish the serve

Bring your arm across your body and keep on moving your weight forwards. Your non-dominant foot should step in the path of the serve with your dominant foot close behind so you get yourself in a ready position. You should jump onto the court to generate more force into your serve.

4   Jump up

Once you have tossed the ball, bend your knees. Put most of your weight on your back foot so that you can have a more powerful serve. Straighten your legs out when you jump to hit the ball.

5   Swing the racket

Bring your racket back until it’s about 70 degrees to the ground. Make contact with the ball as it’s falling.

How to

Swim the Butterfly Stroke

Like Michael Phelps

The butterfly stroke is one of the hardest strokes to master. Timing, strength, and so many other things contribute to the difficulty of grasping this technique. It’s amazing to watch this done correctly. Although it’s hard to learn, there are many tips that will make the process of learning this stroke a whole lot easier.

1   Get in a ready position

Lay face down in the water. Hold your arms straight up and position them just outside your shoulders. The water should be level with your hips.

2   Pull

Cup your hands and “pull” the water to propel yourself forwards. Your arms should go right beside your hips and come out of the water back to its starting position. When you bring your arms forward, it should kind of look like a falcon spreading out its wings.

3   Breathe properly

Many swimmers don’t know the correct way to breathe when doing the butterfly stroke. Get your head out of the water at the same time your arms do and keep your head straight when you inhale. The only reason why Michael Phelps can breathe every stroke is because he pushes his head forwards instead of directly up when he goes to breathe.

5   Swim like a dolphin!

Instead of swimming in an up and down pattern, move as if you were a dolphin. This is an extremely important thing to remember, as it greatly affects how fast you swim.

4   Kick

Use the dolphin kick when doing this stroke. Perform a hard kick when your arms exit the water and a light kick when they enter the water. Getting the timing right with the kicks and the arms will require much practice.

The ollie is one of the most basic skateboard tricks. It is the first trick most skateboarders learn because it makes it a whole lot easier to learn more advanced tricks. An ollie is really just a simple jump with your skateboard.

How to

Do an Ollie

Like Tony Hawk

1   Get on the board

When you stand on the skateboard, your back foot should be on the tail of the board and your front foot should be around the middle of the board. Everyone’s stance is a little bit different, so find one that’s right for you. Keep in mind that if you want to do a big ollie, your back foot has to be on the very end of the board, but if you want to do a small ollie, it can be closer towards your front foot.

2   Bend down

Bending your knees plays an important part in getting your skateboard off the ground. Bend both knees simultaneously . The more you crouch down with your knees the better.

5   Land down

Bend your knees as you’re about to land. This will decrease the impact of the landing and make it easier to stay balanced.

3   Pop up

Press down on the board with your back foot. The minute the tail of the board hits the ground, jump up. Bring your front foot to the top of the skateboard as it’s in the air.

4   Get to the peak of the jump

When your skateboard reaches its highest point, level it with your feet. Move your knees up to your chest so that the board can get more air.

How to

Perfom a Golf Swing

Like Dustin Johnson

1   Have a good posture

To stay balanced, center your weight in between your feet. Bend your back towards the ball, keep feet shoulder-width apart, and have your knees slightly bent.

The golf swing is the most fundamental part of golf. Making your swing consistent is one of the hardest parts of becoming a better golf player. There are certain things you have to remember to get the most accurate and powerful shots out of your club.

2   Use the baseball grip

Hold the club like a baseball bat. This is probably the simplest grip and the easiest one to learn for beginners. You can change the way you hold the club once you learn the basic techniques.

4   Hit the ball

During the down swing, continue to keep your left arm straight. This is the most important thing you have to do in order to have a consistent swing. Move your weight to your front foot and sync the movement of your knees and hips with the club.

3   Bring the club behind you

Keep your left arm straight as you take the club back. When your club reaches its peak, it should be above your head and close to being parallel with the ground.

5   Look at the ball

Never take your eyes off the ball, as doing so may mess up your swing. Follow through with your swing after you've hit the ball.

How to

Shoot a Basketball

Like Michael Jordan

Shooting a basketball is probably more complicated than you think. You have to pay attention to your arms, legs, and plenty of other things when you shoot the ball. Although it may feel awkward to change your form at first, you will gradually get more used to it and become comfortable shooting the proper way.

1   Have the right stance

Standing the proper way is the first step to shooting a basketball. Keep your feet about shoulder width apart and bend your knees slightly. Your dominant foot should be slightly ahead of your other foot.

2   Handle the ball

Hold the ball a couple of inches above your waist and arrange your body and the ball so that they face the basket. When you raise the ball up, make sure that you’re elbow is right below it, not off to the side.

3   Line up your shot

Jump forwards NATURALLY. Tilting your body towards the basket as you shoot will cause you to be unbalanced. You want to sway your body backwards as you jump to balance yourself and make your shot more consistent.

5   Hold the follow through

When the ball leaves your hand, you have to keep your shooting arm up and keep your wrist snapped down. Hold this stance until the ball makes contact with the basket.

4   Release the ball

As you reach the peak of your jump, shoot the ball. Your non-dominant hand should just support the ball while it’s in the air and not move at all while you’re releasing the ball. Push the ball up with your dominant hand and straighten out your elbow. Flick your wrist as you shoot the ball.

How to

Execute a Jump Serve

Like Georg Grozer

1   Toss

You can toss the ball with your left hand, right hand, or both hands. Lob the ball high above your head and a couple feet in front of you. 

A jump serve, as its name suggests, is to jump to serve the ball in volleyball. The point of using this type of serve is to make the ball go faster when you hit it. Since the ball is traveling much faster and harder for opponents to hit back, this is can be an effective way to get points in a match.

2   Approach

When the ball reaches its peak, start a three step approach. Although you can do a four or five step approach, taking only three steps is usually easier for most people to be consistent with. Timing is everything to getting this done right.

3   Jump

Having a running start can help you get a better jump. When you’re near the end line, jump up and off your left foot. Leap forwards onto the court to get more power out of your serve.

5   Contact

Straighten your arm out and bring it forwards to hit the ball. When you make contact with the ball, snap your wrist down to create a spin on the ball.

4   Arms

As you jump, bring your arms back so that you can have a stronger serve. Your elbow should be pointed at about a 90 degree angle. 

6   Landing

Both of your feet should land on the ground at the same time. Have your knees bent as you come down to avoid damaging them in any way.

1   Take even strides

As you dribble to shoot the ball, you want most of your steps to be the same length, as this will make it easier to position yourself to shoot the ball. Make your last step before hitting the ball a longer stride than normal to make your shot more powerful.

How to

Shoot a Soccer Ball

Like Ronaldo

Shooting a soccer ball is a skill that every soccer player (except maybe a goalie) should know how to do. Accuracy and power are the two most important aspects that you will have to focus on when you shoot the ball. There are many things that you can exploit, such as the goalie’s position, to have a better chance of scoring a goal.

2   Arrange yourself to shoot the ball

Hop into the air right before you shoot to slow yourself down a bit. Your non-dominant foot should land besides the ball and the direction it’s pointing in will be where you’re going to shoot the ball.

3   Decide where to shoot the ball

The position of the goalkeeper will determine where you will kick the ball. Most of the time you would want to shoot the ball low and to the opposite side of where the goalie is, but sometimes there will be defenders in your way. If there are people blocking the net, hit the bottom of the ball so that it can go over the defenders.

5   Shoot

Now it’s time to shoot the ball. If you want your shot to be more accurate but less powerful, you want to kick the ball with the inside of your foot. But if you want your shot to be faster and less precise, shoot the ball with the top of your heel.

4   Create power

To make your shot more powerful, bring your dominant leg back. Your other leg should be locked in place besides the ball as you do this. Make sure that your leg is bent and that your toes are directed towards the ground.

Right Defenceman

Diagram of each position on a hockey rink

Left Defenceman

Goaltender

Right Wing

Left Wing

Right Wing

Left Wing

Goaltender

Right Defenceman

Left Defenceman

 4  Tennis-Serena Williams-23 Grand Slam titles-5 WTA Tour Championship wins-19 WTA Tour wins

 2   American Football-The Pittsburgh Steelers-6 Super Bowl wins-61 playoff appearances-36 playoff wins-619 total wins

 5  Swimming-Michael Phelps: 23 Gold Medals-3 Silver Medals-2 Bronze Medals

 10  Soccer-Barcelona-87 trophies-5 European Championship League victories

 1   Hockey-The Montreal Canadians: 23 Stanley Cup wins-83 playoff appearances-422 playoff wins-3,367 total wins

 6  Skateboarding-Tony Hawk-Has placed first in the X Games 20 times in 20 years

 8  Basketball-The Celtics: 17 NBA Finals-54 playoff appearances-3314 total wins

 9   Volleyball-Women's Brazil Team: 10 appearances in the Summer Olympics with 2 golds-15 appearances in the World Championship with 3 silvers-9 appearances in the World Cup with 3 silvers

 3  Baseball-The New York Yankees-27 World Series wins-53 playoff appearances-50 playoff wins-10,175 total wins

 7  Golf-Dustin Johnson: 17 PGA Tour Victories

The most dominant teams and players in each sport

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