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4 Steps to Quickly Upgrade Your Hockey IQ

You hear me talk about it, coach about, and frankly, I think about this topic all the time.

Why? Because understanding and upgrading your Hockey IQ is crucial for any player aiming to elevate their game, secure more playing time, and ultimately achieve Division 1 scholarships.

Here’s how focusing on Hockey IQ can dramatically improve your hockey development:

1. Emphasizing Decision-Making:Hockey IQ starts with making the right decisions under pressure. Coaches play a vital role by fostering an environment where players aren’t punished for execution errors but are encouraged for correct decision-making, even if the execution isn’t perfect. For example, a well-thought-out breakout pass that results in a turnover due to a lack of strength or technical still shows good decision-making [and shows us a different area to help you rebuild!]. Recognizing and reinforcing the thought process behind each play is essential.

2. Developing Transferable Skills: Skills like effective & timely passing and maintaining proper spacing are crucial as they are beneficial at all levels of play. Good passing techniques ensure the puck is moved efficiently and accurately, while proper spacing helps players to create and find open ice. These skills allow players to better read the game, anticipate plays, and make informed decisions quickly. Turning these skills into habits ensures they become second nature, allowing players to execute them effortlessly during games and when it matters most.

3. Building Confidence: Mental toughness is the foundation that allows players to take risks and learn from mistakes without fear. A confident player is more likely to make proactive decisions, while a player lacking confidence may shy away from decision-making, leading to more errors and less effective gameplay.

4. Leveraging Small Area Games & Training Sessions : Endorsed by USA Hockey’s ADM [Athlete Development Model], small area games are incredibly effective for teaching Hockey IQ. These games simulate game-like decision-making scenarios in a controlled environment, allowing players to explore different strategies and outcomes. By adjusting the rules to provide various advantages or disadvantages, coaches can tailor these games to challenge players, enhancing their quick-thinking abilities in real games.

I could go on & on, but the big takeaway I want you to have is developing your Hockey IQ is about more than understanding plays; it’s about cultivating a mindset equipped for the dynamic nature of hockey - both practices and games.

This off-season, focus on these areas to improve your situational awareness, decision-making, and overall game intelligence. These skills will not only help you stand out in tryouts and games but also set a strong foundation for your journey towards a Division 1 scholarship.

Want to upgrade your Hockey IQ? Find the right Summer Small Group Training Plan for your goals, here:

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