A nutmeg is a type of playing technique that is mainly used in soccer but also heard in ice hockey. The aim of this technique is to push, throw, roll, hit or in any other way get the puck in between the opponent’s feet and legs. It is an effective move and one that can be seen in some modern hockey matches.
There are many who debate the origin of this word and how it is related to hockey. The early use of “nutmeg” was in the novel, “A Bad Lot,” by Brian Glanville, as well as in the book “Over the Moon, Brian – The Language of Football” by Alex Leith. In this instance, the word “nuts” is referring to the testicles of the player who had the puck shot through their legs. Nutmeg was just a development of this. Another explanation is that nutmeg means legs in Cockney rhyming slang.
Regardless of the meaning, it is a popular move and one that is highly effective in many situations.
The actual move that the word nutmeg describes is more challenging in hockey than soccer because checking is allowed. This usually occurs when the defenseman is focused on the puck rather than the body. Other phrases used to describe this move include “undressing the defenseman” and “turning them inside out.”
A nutmeg occurs in hockey during one-on-one situations. Usually, the defender is put (or left) in a position that allows the attacking player to slip the puck in between their feet. Specifically, the attacker is trying to find a vulnerability. They will make a feint with their head, shoulder or hands, which makes the defender lean back slightly, straighten their legs and give the attacker an opportunity to take control of the puck and push it between their legs. This move is one that takes skill, simply because the attacking player has to know when their opponent is vulnerable and how to make them “fall for” the feint.
In this video, which shows an amateur game, a player nutmegs the last defender before reaching the goal in order to score a goal. While the distraction isn’t obvious, the defender was vulnerable, which is what made this shot possible.
Some other examples of modern day nutmeg shots can be seen in the video found here. Keep in mind, the nutmeg and toe drag are different shots, and seeing an authentic nutmeg in “all its glory” is a true treat because it is a shot that many players have a hard time pulling off.
Players who aren’t quite sure how to pull off the nutmeg can find plenty of instructional videos and tutorials online. They can also watch the games this season to see which players have the skill and confidence to try this move themselves.
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