The 3 Areas of Hockey Dominance




Improve your Physical Skills, Mental Skills, and Physical Conditioning to Dominate your Opponent!

In this post I’m going to discuss what I call the 3 AREAS OF HOCKEY DOMINANCE… now I know that title sounds a little dramatic, but the reality is, if you implement the information I’m about to share with you into your hockey development strategy, you will be miles ahead of your opponent, EVERY TIME YOU STEP ON THE ICE!

This video will be equally beneficial for both players, coaches, and even parents who want to be on-board with their players’ development. So, let’s go ahead and get started!

3_areas_of_hockey_dominanceThe 3 Areas of Hockey Dominance
The 3 Areas of Hockey Dominance are Physical Skills, Mental Skills, and Physical Conditioning. Now we can break each of these areas down into sub-categories, and get very specific, which we will, but at the end of the day, the best players at ANY age group (that’s correct, I said ANY age group), will be the ones who perform the best in each of these 3 areas… neglect even one of these areas, and we’re giving our opponent the opportunity to gain an advantage over US!

Physical Skills
We all know hockey is an extremely dynamic game… there is so much going on at so many different levels of cognition… our strategy will be to systematically eliminate as much THINKING as possible on the PHYSICAL and TACTICAL aspects of the game, so that our players’ brains can free to function at higher levels during game play. I know that might sound a little confusing, so let me give a quick example:

There are three key components that go into an effective skating stride:

  1. Proper knee bend
  2. Correct pushing angle – which is to the side at about a 45 degree angle
  3. Full extension (including the toe-snap) with a full recoil back to the starting position

Well… that’s a lot to think about! If a player had to worry about all that on the ice, the likelihood of he or she to be able to read, anticipate, and react at any level of proficiency would be extremely LOW!

So, we need to teach and reinforce proper technical skills until they become second nature. Our players should execute the three elements of a skating stride properly, every single stride, of every single game, without ever having to think about whether or not they’re doing it properly!

Now obviously, skating isn’t the only physical skill that players need to be able to perform in their sleep. A few years ago I put myself through an interesting thought exercise. I wanted to map out ALL of the skills a hockey player needed to be able to perform. So I sat down and wrote out every single variation of every single skill in hockey I could think of. I might have missed a few, but I think I got most of it.

I knew the list would be big… but I was surprised by HOW big it really was! Here’s what I came up with:

Skating Skills

  • Forward Skating in a Straight Line
  • Inside Edges
  • Outside Edges
  • Forward Crossovers
  • 5-Step Crossovers for Drive Skating
  • V-Starts, Crossover Starts
  • 2-Foot Stop, Inside Edge Stop
  • Outside Edge Stop
  • Crossover Stop
  • Backward C-Cuts
  • Backward Cross-Unders
  • Backward 3-Step Cross-Unders for Drag Skating
  • Pivots – Forward to Backward to the left side and to the right
  • Pivots – Backward to Forward to the left side and to the right
  • Inside Reverse Pivots both directions
  • Inside Mohawks both directions
  • Power Turns both directions

That’s just skating! At some point you’ve gotta put a puck on your stick, and hopefully be able to execute the following, WHILE maintaining proper skating technique on everything we just mentioned:

Puck Skills

  • Stationary Stickhandling (to the Left Side, Right Side, and Center of Body)
  • Toe Drag
  • Deking
  • Puck Protection & Body Positioning
  • Puck Control While Skating

Passing

  • Cushion Puck While Receiving & Sweep While Delivering
  • Touch Passes
  • Drop Passes
  • Saucer Passes
  • Bank Passes
  • Chip Passes for Breakouts
  • Backhand Passes

If everything got as planned… hopefully you get a chance at a shot on net. SO… you’d better have a solid shot selection to choose from!

Shooting

  • Wrist Shot
  • Snap Shot
  • Slap Shot
  • One-Timer
  • Deflections
  • Backhanders
  • Flip Shot for Dump-ins

Now obviously it takes YEARS to become 100% proficient at all of these skills… but that’s all the more reason to begin implementing these training methods AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Structured training sessions are key to making this happen, and it can, and should be done at even the YOUNGEST age groups!

Get Skills “Out of the Way”
As I mentioned earlier, our objective is to get our players to become SO well-skilled, that we can psychologically “get skills out of the way” so to speak, opening up mental real-estate for the more complex aspects of the game. This development strategy will allow our players to think the game more quickly and clearly than the opponent.

So… what are the MENTAL SKILLS that we should be teaching our players? well, I’m glad you asked! The same day I penciled out all the physical skills of the game, I also went through and mapped out all the MENTAL aspects of the game, which include both tactical skills and positional, or situational, understanding.

Defensive Tactics

  • Gap Control
  • Force vs. Contain strategy
  • Angling
  • Checking
  • Pinning
  • 1 on 1’s, 2 on 1’s, 2 on 2’s, 3 on 2’s
  • Defensive Support

Offensive Tactics

  • Triangulation
  • Cycling
  • Front and Backside Support
  • Delays
  • Give and Go’s
  • Angling and Body Positioning on Forecheck

Neutral Zone Tactics

  • Area Passing
  • Timing
  • Neutral Zone Support
  • Backchecking (which sort of happens in any of the 3 zones, depending on where the turnover occurred)

defensive_zone_coveragePositioning
Continuing along on the mental skills side of the equation, we progress into POSITIONING. The objective with positioning is not only to BE in the right place at the right time, but our players must be capable of DOING the right thing, while in the right place, at the right time, or in other words, applying the proper TACTIC while in the proper POSITION.

For example, let’s say the other team has the puck in the corner, and we’re in the defensive zone… it’s great if our strong side defenseman is near the puck-carrier, in proper position, and ready to make a play, but if he FORCES when he should have CONTAINED… that’s a huge problem. Our players need to be able to read and react both positionally, AND tactically, in order to execute at the highest level.

hockey_tacticsTactical Play can Become Instinctive too
Now, in case you haven’t noticed… many of the tactical skills can also be developed to the point where they become INSTINCTIVE, meaning, players don’t have to THINK about them anymore… just like our objective with physical skills, we want to develop these mental, tactical skills to the point where our players no longer have to think about how to react.

Continuing with our example… The decision of whether to force or contain when the other team has the puck in the defensive corner can be made LONG before our defenseman steps on the ice. Our players should be able to simply RECOGNIZE the ques because they’ve been there a million times in practice, and then react correctly WITHOUT HAVING TO MAKE A CONSCIOUS DECISION EVERY SINGLE TIME!

Once a player gets to the point where he or she is no longer THINKING about the Physical and Tactical skills of the game, but acting and reacting instinctively, the game SLOWS down for the player, and his or her effectiveness increases!

Physical Conditioning
Developing a player’s physical and mental skills is obviously EXTREMELY important… but it’s flat out NOT ENOUGH, if we truly want our players to reach their highest and best.

Our third area of hockey dominance is the one that is most often over-looked… PHYSICAL CONDITIONING. Let me start by saying that ANYTIME you hear about something that is commonly overlooked, your ears should perk up, because that means there’s an area where you can gain an ADVANTAGE over your opponent… well, THIS is one of those areas!

Without getting into a whole bunch of “Jeremy Weiss personal history,” let me just say this… I’ve played some fairly decent hockey in my day, with some fairly decent players… including quite a few who are in the NHL now. Even at high levels of play, including Jr “A” in the Ontario Provincial League, and College Hockey, I was always surprised at how FEW players got to the weight room with ANY level of consistency! There is a HUGE advantage to be gained by the player who consistently executes a top-notch, hockey-specific, conditioning program both in the off-season, as well as the in-season.

Intrinsic Factors
Developing our strength and conditioning will not only help us to physically out-muscle our opponent, and go harder for longer without getting as tired… but there are many intrinsic benefits as well that play a huge role on the ice. Some of these include confidence, leadership, motor coordination, and a whole host of others.

Weiss Tech Hockey is associated with a few high-quality, hockey-specific, off-ice training programs that we use and recommend. You can check them out here:

Everything is Interlaced
So those are the three areas of hockey dominance. The interesting thing about implementing this development strategy is that each of these skills play into each other, and as one improves, it brings aspects of the other two up with it. For example, as a player’s leg and core strength develops because of his or her OFF-ICE CONDITIONING PROGRAM, he or she is able to execute and hold a better knee bend, which results in an improved skating stride – a PHYSICAL SKILL, this improves the player’s ability to maintain better gap control on a 1 on 1, which is a MENTAL & TACTICAL SKILL… You see… it’s ALL INTERLACED! The trick as a coach is to get the ball rolling, and provide the type of learning environment where progress can be made skill upon skill, concept upon concept.

A Huge Thanks!
I just wanted to take a minute and say thanks for checking out this post, and thank you for participating on our drills and skills blog. If this post has been helpful to you as a player, coach, or parent, please feel free to continue to spread the word to your hockey friends, teammates, and associates… we sure appreciate it!

Jeremy

Introduction: Skill Development Strategy




Off-Ice Skill Development Strategy

This is the 2nd of 3 intro videos for the Home Hockey Training Center. Check out the first video before watching this one. Here are the links to videos 1 and 3:

There are certain hockey skills that can very realistically be developed away from the rink, and then there are some that don’t work quite as well. You can gain an advantage over your opponent by practicing as many skills as possible off the ice. This video breaks down which skills can (and should) be worked on away from the rink, and gives a quick overview of how you might want to strategize your off-ice training plans.

The main hockey skills that can be developed at home are as follows:

  1. Shooting
  2. Stickhandling
  3. Passing Technique
  4. Some Skating Elements

Then there are a few physical performance items that should be worked on at home as well:

  1. Agility
  2. Strength
  3. Explosiveness

With the cost of ice so high, developing your hockey abilities at home is a cheap, and extremely effective way to improve your game!

Introduction: Course Overview




Welcome to Weiss Tech Hockey’s Home Hockey Training Center!

As you know, hockey is a complex game that combines MANY different skills. Great hockey players can skate well, stickhandle, shoot, pass… they’re strong, fast, smart, and make the right decision at the right time!

One of the biggest mistakes many hockey players make is that they only work on their skills at the rink; they only work on their speed and strength at the rink; and they only work on their hockey smarts at the rink. In today’s game, if you’re only developing your abilities during your regular practices and games, you’re probably not going to achieve your full potential. The best players I know are at the gym on their own, working on their hockey skills off the ice, and improving their decision-making-abilities AWAY FROM THE RINK AS WELL!

Last summer I put together my Coaches’ Training Course, which focused on systems play, and other “mental aspects” of the game. This summer I’ll be focusing more on Individual Skill development. I recently re-released my off-ice strength and conditioning program, the S3 Formula, which focuses on developing raw Speed, Strength, and Size. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be walking you through the process of developing a Home Hockey Training Center that will allow you to improve your Individual Skills at home!

Let’s get started!

Summer Hockey Strategy

How to Plan Your Summer Hockey Activities

I am often asked what a player should do to make the most of his or her off season. This can be a tough question, because the answer usually varies from player to player. However, despite the many possible “correct answers,” there are five main objectives that I think should be staples for any player looking to improve this summer––regardless of age or skill-level:
  1. Improve physical performance: The off-season is the time to develop your speed, strength, and size. During the summer months, this should be the primary focus for serious hockey players. Enormous gains can be made by consistently working out in a structured, hockey-specific, strength and conditioning program.
  2. Improve technical hockey skills (on-ice): Hockey players should take the time to develop and fine-tune the technical elements of their game that have been neglected during the hectic playoff push. I recommend getting into a hockey camp that is highly focused on technical skating, puck-handling, passing, and shooting. A slightly laid-back atmosphere is good, as long as proper technique is insisted upon. Remember, the objective of this type of training isn’t to “whip” you into shape, but to correct and reinforce proper form and technique.
  3. Improve technical hockey skills (off-ice): There are a number of skills that can also be developed away from the rink such as stickhandling and shooting. Set up an obstacle course to stickhandle through, and put together a shooting gallery in your backyard and work on your shot back there. You can get hundreds of extra development hours in this way, and its FREE (aside from the initial set up costs).
  4. Develop and maintain general athleticism: Keep your athleticism up by playing different sports in the summer. Generally speaking, the best athletes are also the best hockey players. Developing different types of motor skills and coordination by participating in other sports will help improve your hockey game by improving your overall athleticism.
  5. Stay “game fresh”: Find a way to work in some game time every week or two during the summer. This can be via pick-up hockey, summer league, or the odd tournament over the summer. Make sure it’s a light-hearted environment, and won’t be mentally over-taxing. The objective here is just to stay sharp, and reinforce some of the technical work you’ve been developing as we mentioned in step two. You’ll have plenty of time for high-intensity hockey once the regular season rolls around. Don’t burn yourself out on recreational summer hockey.
So that’s it! Remember, these tips are general recommendations, you’ll need to modify them to fit your own specific needs and schedule. However, planning your summer using these five basic guidelines should help you to have a very productive off-season, and to arrive at training camp primed, well-rested, and ready to have a phenomenal season!