25 Mid-Season Hockey Tips
- BE HARD TO PLAY AGAINST by being the hardest working team on the ice.
- FACEOFFS: Your center is your most important player on the ice. THE CENTER IS YOUR QUARTERBACK. He or she needs to make sure everyone is lined up properly and ready for battle. Hockey is a game of possession and centers need to know how important it is to win the faceoff—the very first battle of the game or play. Centers need to quietly let their wingers know if he or she is going forward or backward. Centers can take the puck straight on or with the back of the stick.
- COMMUNICATION. All six players on the ice need to talk to each other. The goalie has the best of view of the ice, so they should be talking to the defensemen the entire game. Listen to one another and pass to the open player. Get your heads on straight and start thinking and talking.
- AREA PASSES put the puck in safe places on the ice to regain control. When you enter the offensive zone, chip the puck along the boards instead of dumping the puck in—to give yourself time. You are giving yourself a little area pass.
- NEVER QUIT NO MATTER WHAT THE SCORE. You can always come back. And you are on the ice. Remember ice time is precious. Even if you lose, keep battling and go down fighting, talking and connecting as a team.
- GAME PREPARATION: Get to games early. Stretch, focus, think positive thoughts and think about your job on the ice. Remember to talk to your teammates out there and listen to each other. Get into the zone by working together as a team. Psyche each other up as a team in the locker room.
- BLOCK SHOTS. Step up and master this skill. You will find yourself making any team you want.
- BEAT YOUR OPPONENTS TO THE PUCK. You are engaging in races all over the ice.
- WIN YOUR BATTLE. Each player should engage in battles all over the ice. Even if you don’t have the puck, win the battle against your opponent by creating time, space and an area.
- CLOCK MANAGEMENT. The last minute of the period, play smart whether your team is up or down by a goal. Are you pulling your goalie? If so, get ready to hustle double time.
- HIT THE NET and be ready for rebounds.
- PAY THE PRICE to make the play! Take a hit or block a shot, great ways to earn points with your coach. These are key intangibles that all players can bring to the ice.
- ACCOUNTABILITY—if you make a mistake own it. Look in the mirror.
- MOVE THE PUCK. The puck moves faster than the body. Don’t be selfish and try to carry the puck end to end. Pass it up to your teammate who is ahead of you and open. Forwards need to be aware of the teammate who has the puck, skate up ahead, find and area on the ice to get open and wait for the pass. Carrying the puck slows you down, so get it to your open winger.
- STOP THE SELFISH PENALTIES. Lazy penalties have consequences.
- CONSISTENCEY of coaching. Make sure you have the same rules for all players regarding being late or absent to practices or the way you correct them on the bench. COACHES HAVE TO BE FAIR.
- POISE WITH THE PUCK. Remember, you have more time than you think but not as much as you’d like.
- TAKE PRIDE IN THE TEAM. Play as a five-man cohesive group.
- CENTERS ARE THE THIRD DEFENSEMAN. Always support the puck in the defensive zone, keep your stick on the ice, take away the middle of the ice and play inside the dots.
- D TO D PASSING in all areas of the ice—spread out and use the whole width of the ice.
- UNDERSTAND THE GAP. The gap is the most important facet of the game—all areas of the ice take time and space away from opponent.
- USING YOUR DEFENSE IN THE OFFENSIVE ZONE activates the defense high cycles, including sniper shots to the net. Have them join the attack as five-man units.
- PLAY HARD WITHOUT THE PUCK. Work to get open and support teammates in all areas of ice.
- LEADERSHIP. Be first in line and demand excellence from your teammates. Lead by example and others will follow. Speak up and hold everyone on the team accountable for their behavior on—and off—the ice.
- HAVE FUN in a hard-working environment with rewards for doing small things correctly—like taking a hit, blocking a shot, making a nice assist or big save, drawing a penalty or showing leadership.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Jeff Serowik of Pro Ambitons Hockey for this story.
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