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The argument for increased skills and fewer games ...

While games are essential for players to apply their skills in real-game situations and develop hockey IQ, skills training provides a focused and controlled environment for players to improve their technical abilities, which can ultimately enhance their performance during actual games.


Additionally, layering in controlled scrimmages to skills sessions provides a focused, game-like environment for targeted learning where coaches can stop play and point out where players may have made mistakes or had opportunities to make better plays.

Improving skills makes players better in games

All too often, young players have good skills but need to learn how to play smarter, utilize their teammates more and analyze and decipher plays as opposed to overhandling the puck and trying to do too much on their own.


Playing a ton of games doesn't help improve a player's hockey IQ or stop individualistic play. In fact, playing more games and making the same mistakes over and over only cements the bad habits.


Below we examine the benefits of skills vs. games, followed by the benefits of controlled scrimmages vs. games.


 

1. Focused practice: Skills training allows players to focus on specific skills, such as shooting, passing, skating/edgework, and stickhandling. This focused practice helps players improve their technique, speed, and overall performance in a controlled environment, preparing them to be more impactful when the games start.


2. Repetition: Skills training allows players to repeat specific drills and exercises, which helps reinforce muscle memory and develop better instincts on the ice. Repetition is crucial for skill development and can be more challenging to achieve during game situations where the expectation of your skills should already be at a certain level.


3. Individualized attention: Players can receive individualized attention from coaches or trainers in skills training sessions. This personalized feedback and guidance can help players identify areas for improvement and work on specific weaknesses to enhance their overall game.


Interested in Joining us for our Flagship Summer Skills Camp?


Take a look at a quick highlight video from our recent spring skills.


4. Progressive skill development: Skills training often follows a progressive structure, gradually increasing the difficulty and complexity of drills as players improve. This allows players to develop their skills systematically and incrementally, building a solid foundation for their game.


5. Time for experimentation: Players often focus on team strategies and game situations during games, leaving limited time for investigation and trying new techniques. In skills training, players have more freedom to experiment, take risks, and develop their creativity on the ice, which they can then bring to the game, becoming more dynamic and impactful players.


6. Conditioning and physical development: Hockey skills training typically incorporates conditioning exercises to improve players' speed, agility, strength, and endurance. These physical aspects are crucial for overall player development and can be targeted more effectively during training sessions.


 

Simulated on-ice hockey games with stops and starts offer several benefits compared to real games:


1. Controlled environment: Simulated games provide a controlled environment where coaches and trainers can manipulate various game situations to focus on specific skill development. This allows players to work on particular aspects of their game, such as power plays, penalty kills, face-offs, or defensive positioning, in a controlled setting. In actual games, coaches have less control over the specific situations that players will encounter.


2. Repetition and practice: Simulated games allow more repetition and practice opportunities than actual games. Coaches can stop the game frequently to provide feedback, correct mistakes, and reinforce proper techniques. This repetitive practice helps players develop muscle memory and improve their decision-making abilities in specific game situations.


3. Focus on specific skills: Simulated games can be tailored to focus on particular skills or tactics that need improvement. For example, coaches may create scenarios to work on breakouts, forechecking strategies, or offensive zone plays. By isolating these specific skills, players can better understand and apply them during real games with a higher level of proficiency.


4. Reduced physical toll: Real games can be physically demanding, with continuous play and less downtime for rest and recovery. Simulated games with stops and starts provide players with more breaks and opportunities to recover, reducing the physical toll on their bodies. This can help prevent overexertion, fatigue, and potential injuries, allowing players to maintain peak performance throughout the training session or season.


5. Enhanced learning and comprehension: Simulated games allow players to receive immediate feedback and instruction from coaches during stoppages. This facilitates understanding and awareness of game concepts, strategies, and techniques. Real games may provide a different level of immediate feedback and instruction, making it harder for players to learn and implement improvements.


6. Flexibility and adaptability: Simulated games can be easily modified to target specific areas of improvement or address particular challenges that players may face. Coaches can create game scenarios replicating specific opponents' strategies or focusing on individual player development. This flexibility and adaptability are only sometimes present in real games, where the outcome is determined by external factors beyond the coach's control.


By utilizing these simulated games effectively, players can enhance their skills, tactical understanding, and overall performance, ultimately translating into improved results during real games.


Best,


Coach Kevin





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