Everyone is always looking for an advantage.
That's the way the world works, and hockey is no different. We all want to find that little edge that will help put us over the top.
For some players, that could mean the difference between making a team and not, continuing the play the game or hanging up the skates, or even just logging a few more minutes of ice time each game.
Regardless, we all want to get that little extra edge.
And for a lot of people, that can mean trying everything (and anything) to get that advantage.
I think we all have bought into these gimmicks at one point or another. Picture a hockey player standing on a bosu ball and shooting pucks...
While I'm not trying to discredit anyone out there training players, or criticize their methods, I just don't believe in the gimmicks.
And I understand that if I asked someone who believes in it they would tell me that it works on balance and core strength, which we all know are necessary for hockey players.
But, for me, I think of a couple things, would you ever actually use this movement in a game, or on the ice?
No, of course not.
And, how is this actually making my on ice performance better?
It's not, or it's at least not giving you any added advantage that you couldn't have gained from doing a drill that's for sure going to directly improve your game. Say something like just shooting pucks, but focusing on all the details that go into doing it the right way...
The longer that I have been around the game, and the more that I continue to learn about it, the more I realize that simple is often times still better.
Great players do the simple things incredibly well and consistent. I truly believe that's one of the biggest differentiating factors between a great player and a good player.
So for me, repetition is one of the most valuable training tools for hockey players.
And when I say repetition, I mean repetition of the simple things; shooting, stickhandling, passing, and skating.
There obviously is the hockey sense and mental component that go along the game as well, but I'm talking about strictly from a skill standpoint.
In believing this so strongly, I've adjusted the way that I coach and train players. Instead of focusing on gimmicks, I focus on habits and being incredibly good at the little things.
I also believe in this so much because as we get older, and play the game longer, those simple skills are the ones that get forgotten about the most.
If you think about a practice, (and I'm guilty as a coach of this too), so much time, effort and energy is placed on systems and preparation for the next game that the actual individual skill development gets forgotten about.
It's almost like we think that since we've been playing the game so long and we know how to do those things that we can just forget about them. I have found, however, that the simple skills (shooting, passing, stickhandling, skating) can always be improved upon and need to be worked on constantly to stay sharp. It doesn't matter how long you've played, or what level you play at, your hands and feet can always get better.
A perfect example of this is myself. I played hockey my entire life and all the way through college, and I can honestly tell you that my individual skills are ten times better now then they ever were when I was actually playing.
Why is that?
The simple answer is the repetition. As a skill coach, I am on the ice almost everyday, and a lot of times it's for multiple hours a day, working with a multitude of players. With all this time on the ice, I am continually demonstrating and working alongside my clients, and in turn, staying sharp (and actually improving) my individual skills. My stickhandling has become smoother, my release quicker, harder, and more accurate, my touch with the puck more precise, my control with the puck more natural... truly my whole game has improved drastically just by working on the simple (foundational) aspects of the game.
So while the bells and whistles of a new training technique may seem like the thing that can get you over the top. Focusing on the repetition of the simple foundational pieces of the game are what's actually going to take you the farthest.
Let me know what you think of this. Do you agree or disagree? Comment below.