What Is A Bender In Hockey? Learn How To Spot One On The Ice!

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If you’re a hockey fan, you’ve probably heard the term “bender” thrown around on the ice. But what exactly does it mean? A bender is a player who has poor skating technique and often leans heavily to one side when they skate. The term originates from the way their skates bend under the weight distribution of their body.

While some players may be labeled as benders in a joking manner, it can actually be a serious issue for others. Not only does it hinder their speed and agility on the ice, but it can also put them at risk for injury due to improper form.

“It’s important for coaches and teammates to identify benders on the ice and offer support and resources to improve their technique,” says former NHL player and coach Mike Babcock.

So how can you spot a bender during a game or practice? Look for players who are constantly falling behind their peers, struggling to turn quickly, and using excessive upper body movement to compensate for their lack of balance.

If you’re looking to improve your own technique or help a teammate out, there are plenty of resources available such as skill camps, private lessons, and online tutorials. With dedication and effort, any player can overcome the challenges associated with being a bender and become a stronger skater on the ice.

The Definition of a Bender in Hockey

In the world of hockey, “bender” is a term that has been around for quite some time. It refers to a type of player who doesn’t have good control over their skating or puck handling ability. A bender is someone who tends to wobble and trip on the ice while playing the game.

To put it more succinctly, a bender is someone whose skills are still in development and not up to par with other players on the team. This can be due to various reasons such as lack of practice, insufficient physical training, or simply being new to the sport itself.

The Origin of the Term Bender

“The term ‘bender’ comes from British English slang and was originally used to describe an individual who was drunk or bending under the influence. The word eventually made its way across the Atlantic and morphed into the context we now know it today.” – USA Hockey Magazine

As hockey began gaining popularity in North America, the term ‘bender’ started being increasingly used within the community to refer to players struggling with their performance. However, it’s important to note that using this term in a derogatory manner towards fellow teammates or opponents can be quite disrespectful.

The Meaning of Bender in Hockey

While being referred to as a bender might sting initially, learning the meaning behind the term can help one work on improving their skillset. If you’re struggling with skating, shooting, passing or any other aspect of your game, acknowledging them and working on bettering yourself is crucial.

It’s also important to remember that being a bender isn’t a permanent identity. Every player goes through ups and downs throughout their career, especially during initial stages when they’re trying out new positions and developing their skills. With time, practice and effort, skating and handling can be improved and the bender tag removed.

Bender in hockey refers to a player who has not yet honed their skills in an aspect of the game. Rather than being used as an insult, benders should take it as an opportunity to work on themselves and improve n their game.

How to Identify a Bender on the Ice

Skating Technique

In hockey, having a good skating technique is crucial, but sometimes players have poor form and are known as “benders” on the ice. One of the most noticeable things about a bender is their unbalanced stride when skating. Instead of generating power from their legs, they rely too much on their upper body’s strength.

Bruce Shoebottom, a former NHL player and current skills coach, explains that “Benders characteristically cross over with their feet or simply use too much side-to-side movement instead of driving straight ahead.”

  • Some common mistakes benders make include:
    • – Crossing their feet over each other instead of propelling forward with one foot at a time.
    • – Swinging their arms in an exaggerated manner instead of using them for balance.
    • – Leaning too far forward or backward, which makes it difficult to maintain control over their movement.

Body Positioning

A bender can easily be spotted by their poor body positioning on the ice. A player who cannot hold themselves up balanced will often display this tell-tale sign through their shoulders or hips not being squared off correctly. They might even stick their butt out too aggressively while skating, throwing off their alignment. Bending the knees excessively also indicates weaker leg muscles and poor technique. An important thing to note is setting your personal preferences aside and analyzing each athlete uniquely. The same technique may work better for some than others.

“Poor posture during acceleration is sometimes related to weak gluteus medius muscle engagement. This can lead to unnecessary strain on other areas like groin and hip flexors.” – Gary Roberts, former NHL player and expert performance coach

Another issue with benders is their stance. Often they have a hunched-over posture that makes it difficult to shoot the puck correctly or pass effectively to teammates.

Puck Handling

When assessing a player’s form in hockey, reviewing how they handle the puck is crucial for identifying benders on the ice. A person with good puck handling moves fluently with the game while looking confident staying up right.

“Many bad hockey players grip the stick too hard. They need to relax more, to do what comes naturally. When you have the puck, never give your opponent an easy play, make him go through you if he wants the puck,” said Gordie Howe, a Hall of Fame forward who played for years in the NHL and WHA.

A bender typically has weak hand-eye coordination when handling the puck and can be seen fumbling around with the stick while trying to make a move. Additionally, they might make simple but costly errors such as misreading their cue during warm-up drills or losing control of the puck quickly. This lack of confidence hints at inefficient skills training or inadequate muscle development due to less time spent practicing specific hockey moves. Benders also tend to rob themselves of primary scoring opportunities because of deficient footwork.

What Causes a Player to Become a Bender?

Inadequate Coaching

Poor coaching is one of the primary reasons why players become benders in hockey. Coaches who lack knowledge about the game may teach incorrect technique, leading to improper form and execution of skills.

According to Jim Vitale, head coach at Union College: “Coaches can have an enormous influence on whether their players are susceptible to developing certain bad habits or not.” Therefore, it’s essential for coaches to be well-versed in the fundamentals of the sport so they can provide proper guidance to their players.

“A great coach can lead you to places you never thought possible” – PJ Fleck

Incorrect Training Habits

Alongside poor coaching, incorrect training habits can further cement bad playing patterns that lead to bender-like tendencies. Aspects such as physical conditioning, diet, rest, and recovery all play a significant role in the player’s performance on the ice.

Rushing back from injuries before full recovery, not warming up correctly before training sessions or games, failing to get enough sleep, and neglecting nutrition are just some examples of bad training habits that can damage a player’s development and create unfavorable outcomes in both short-term and long-term scenarios.

“You can’t build a house without a strong foundation, and you can’t build a player without good fundamentals.” – John Wroblewski

Physical Limitations

For some players, becoming a bender might come down to simply being physically unable to compete with other skaters on the ice. Natural talent varies among players, but when a player experiences limitations due to size, speed, or strength, they’re more likely to develop undesirable habits and behaviors to compensate for their shortcomings.

This shouldn’t be the reason to give up on developing one’s skills – rather it should motivate players and coaches to find ways around the limitations. For example, creating a customized training program or finding alternative tactics can help improve overall performance.

“What you lack in talent can be made up with desire, hustle, and giving 110% all the time.” – Don Zimmer

Mental Blockages

In hockey, as in any sport, positive mentality is essential. Mental blockages that create doubt, distractions, or anxiety can lead to poor playing decisions, resulting in bender-like tendencies. Fear of failure or mistakes during games, problems dealing with criticism or high-pressure situations, or being unable to cope with opponents’ aggressive behavior may significantly impact a player’s mindset.

To avoid mental blockages becoming obstacles to success, coaches can provide constructive feedback, introduce protective techniques against potentially confrontational moments between players, or even bring on experts to assist with mental strength development such as sports psychologists or hypnotherapists.

“The mind is everything; what you think, you become.” – Buddha

The Negative Impact of a Bender on a Team

In hockey, the term “bender” refers to a player who spends most of their time on the ice in a crouched position, bending their knees. This stance is often associated with inexperienced or unskilled players. Although there are some benefits to being a bender, it can have a negative impact on the team’s overall performance.

Decreased Performance

Bending your knees too much while playing hockey can slow you down and make it harder to move effectively on the ice. It also limits your ability to generate power when skating, shooting, or passing the puck. As a result, benders tend to be less efficient than other players and may struggle to keep up with the pace of the game.

“A lot of guys think they can skate faster by getting lower, but that’s not always true,” says NHL veteran Marty McSorley. “When you’re bent over too much, you lose your balance and it takes longer to recover when you get hit or pushed.”

Benders are also more likely to fall or trip on the ice due to their stance. This increases their risk of injury and leaves the team short-handed during games.

Low Morale

In addition to affecting individual performance, having multiple benders on a team can lead to low morale among the players. Benders are often seen as weak links or liabilities by their teammates, which can create tension and mistrust on the ice.

“Playing with a bunch of benders is frustrating because they’re always taking shortcuts and making mistakes,” says former college hockey captain Mike Smith. “It’s hard to trust them with important plays or rely on them to step up when we need it.”

This lack of confidence can also hurt team chemistry and make it harder for players to work together effectively. When one or more members of the team are struggling, it can create a domino effect that affects the entire group.

“Hockey is all about trust and communication,” says NHL coach Mike Babcock. “If you have guys who aren’t pulling their weight or making silly mistakes because they’re too bent over, everyone else suffers.”

“While there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a bender, it’s important to recognize the negative impacts it can have on your individual performance and team morale,” says hockey analyst Dave Reid. “By practicing good posture and focusing on agility, speed, and balance, you can improve your game and avoid getting stuck in a bent-over position.”

How to Help a Bender Improve Their Game

Provide Individual Coaching

If you want to help a bender improve their skills, consider providing personalized coaching. This means identifying specific areas where they need improvement and working with them one-on-one to develop strategies for addressing those weaknesses.

One effective approach is to break down the game into smaller components, focusing on individual skills like skating, shooting, passing, and defensive positioning. By giving your bender targeted feedback on these aspects of their game, you can help them build confidence and improve their overall performance.

“I always felt that my greatest asset was not my physical ability, it was my mental ability.” -Bruce Jenner

Another key element of individual coaching is providing support and encouragement. Hockey can be a mentally challenging sport, especially if a player is struggling to improve or facing setbacks. As a coach or mentor, you can play an important role in helping your bender stay motivated and focused on their goals.

Encourage Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is another critical tool for helping benders succeed on the ice. Rather than focusing solely on what they did wrong, try to highlight instances where they made positive contributions to the team’s effort.

This might mean acknowledging small successes like smart passes or well-placed shots, or recognizing larger achievements like successful penalty kills or assists on scoring plays. Whatever the case may be, make sure your bender knows that their efforts are valued and appreciated.

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” -Conrad Hilton

It’s also important to provide constructive criticism when necessary, but try to frame this as a learning opportunity rather than a punishment. By focusing on what benders can do to improve rather than simply pointing out their mistakes, you can help them grow as players and build a stronger team dynamic.

Set Achievable Goals

Setting achievable goals is another effective strategy for helping benders improve their game. This means breaking down larger objectives into smaller, more manageable steps that they can work towards over time.

For example, if your bender is struggling with shooting accuracy, you might set a goal of hitting the net on 50% of their shots during practice drills. Alternatively, if they are having trouble staying in position defensively, you might focus on specific situations like breakouts or chasing down loose pucks along the boards.

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

Another important aspect of setting achievable goals is establishing clear benchmarks for success. In other words, make sure your bender knows exactly what they need to achieve in order to reach their objective, whether it’s scoring a certain number of goals, blocking a certain number of shots, or winning a particular percentage of faceoffs.

This will not only give them something concrete to work towards, but also help them stay motivated and focused throughout the season.

  • In summary:
  • Provide individual coaching tailored to player weaknesses
  • Encourage positive reinforcement by highlighting successes
  • Set achievable goals broken down into small achievable steps

If you follow these three strategies when working with benders, chances are you’ll see meaningful improvements in their play over time. And who knows? With the right support and encouragement, they just might surprise everyone and become an MVP someday!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a bender in hockey?

A bender in hockey is a player who has poor skating ability and struggles to maintain balance on the ice. They typically have difficulty executing basic skills such as stopping, turning, and skating backwards. This can make it challenging for them to keep up with the pace of the game and contribute to their team’s success.

How does someone become a bender in hockey?

There are several factors that can contribute to someone becoming a bender in hockey. These may include lack of experience, poor coaching, inadequate training, or physical limitations. In some cases, players may also develop bad habits or struggle with confidence on the ice, which can lead to poor performance and a reputation as a bender.

What are some common characteristics of a bender in hockey?

Common characteristics of a bender in hockey may include poor skating ability, difficulty with basic skills, lack of confidence on the ice, and a tendency to make mistakes or turnovers. They may also struggle to keep up with the pace of the game and may be less physically fit than their teammates.

What is the impact of a bender on a team’s performance in hockey?

The impact of a bender on a team’s performance in hockey can be significant. A bender may struggle to keep up with the pace of the game, leading to turnovers and missed opportunities. This can put their team at a disadvantage and make it challenging to compete at a high level. Additionally, their lack of skill and confidence on the ice may make it difficult for them to contribute to their team’s success.

How do coaches and players deal with benders in hockey?

Coaches and players may deal with benders in hockey by providing additional training and support to help them improve their skills. They may also work to build their confidence on the ice and help them develop good habits to overcome bad ones. In some cases, coaches may also choose to limit a bender’s playing time or assign them to a lower level team to help them build their skills and confidence before returning to the main roster.

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