Photo Credit: Mark Cannons Photography
There are many activities that players can do outside of the rink to help become a more well-rounded player. From the OMHA Players Club to the Hit the Gym exercises, there’s never been more accessible information at home. The mental side of hockey can sometimes get overlooked and the intangible ‘Hockey IQ’ can make a difference on the ice.
Take something that you’re already doing, watching the hockey game on television, and really pay attention to what’s going on. This is more than just how you are watching the game but what you are watching within the action. There are useful takeaways in what you see and how you can apply it to your own game if you find yourself in a similar scenario.
Approach the viewing experience with a different mindset. Watch a contest where you have no personal investment as a fan. Pick a random game between two clubs that you wouldn’t normally tune in to – this allows you to take an unbiased approach. Watch both teams during the game – switch each period – and get an understanding of both sides of the puck.
Photo Credit: Digital Sports Photography
Think about what the players did why they did it. It’s more than just following where the puck is going. One of the most valuable tools when watching is to focus on a specific player and how they move without the puck and how it fits into what their teammates are doing. This works best when you focus on a player at a similar position to you. Follow them for an entire sequence or shift. Watch how they play the game without the puck in both the offensive and defensive zones.
In the big picture, you can see what role the players you are focusing on tie in to the team tactics. How are they defending in their own zone? What movement takes place in the neutral zone before the offensive entry? On a penalty kill or powerplay, how do teams take advantage of or try to stop the extra player? These are small details that can sometimes get lost in the big picture.
Broadcasts do a great job providing replays of critical moments to give you other angles of how it all developed. You can take it a step further and use your own remote features to rewind and slow down plays to gain a better understanding of what truly happened. Remember, you aren’t watching the game to see who won in real-time, this is an exercise in observation and learning.
This may be overwhelming at first when you try to watch a game this way. Start with just a period then enjoy the rest of the action. The more you watch, it will be easier to pick up on player and team tendencies. From there, you can even make analysis on how players/teams compare to each other. Make notes and keep track of what you observe each game.
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