One the features for the new Hockey iQ blog will be to point out when articles pertaining to Hockey iQ or hockey sense are posted on other sites. It might be something direct, like today’s link, or indirect, perhaps an article which feature’s a top players mastery of one of our Hockey iQ topics like mental toughness or visualization. Today’s article is written by the Ontario, Canada Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) touting the importance of hockey sense – calling it the ‘Great Equalizer’. Giving the player who isn’t quite as skilled or physically developed a tool to compete with those who aren’t yet. Here’s the link:
The article points out the evolution in thinking which has taken place regarding hockey sense training. Previously it was widely believed hockey sense, or Hockey iQ, was an innate gift – either you had it or you didn’t. It has always seemed like a foolish argument to me. Yes, there is no question some players have a more natural feel for the game. Anyone who has watched or coached younger players can attest to this. But we could probably say that about mathematics, reading or art – yet we don’t give up on students who aren’t naturals. We teach them. It only seems logical the same should hold true with Hockey iQ. Fortunately, today, many more folks believe hockey sense can be developed.
Now that there’s an increasing belief Hockey iQ can be developed the question becomes how do we develop it? USA Hockey has been successful with their adoption of the Intelligym program which provides cognitive training. The program was originally used to train fighter pilots but has been modified to help hockey players read and react on the on ice more quickly. The increasing popularity of small area games, encouraged by Hockey Canada and USA Hockey, is another source of decision making training which will likely increase a players hockey sense. Small area games are wonderful for multiple reasons. They reduce the time and space players have with the puck which forces them to make decisions more quickly, mirroring game like situations players often face. They also result in increased puck touches for everyone – less space and fewer players make it a necessity to utilize teammates and think ahead to where you can position yourself for the next opportunity. How often and how unpredictably players have to switch from offense to defense is unique to hockey. Football is very deliberate. So is baseball. Soccer, lacrosse and basketball all have similarities in their transitions from offense to defense (and back to offense!) but none occur at the warp speed they do in hockey. Small area games help train players for these transitions and have the fringe benefit of being a lot of fun! The Hockey iQ curriculum we have continued to develop won’t take the place of the Intelligym or Small Area Games but will complement them. Even the most well meaning of youth coaches only have so much time to explain the finer points of the game. How many chalk boards sessions can you have at age 10? And probably just as important – how long can you hold the attention of the players during these sessions? The Hockey iQ curriculum is designed to give players a steady and cohesive flow of hockey information in quantities they can handle at times which are most convenient to them. We’ll cover a broad array of topics ranging from vocabulary (how many times have you seen a coach yell directions using jargon players aren’t familiar with?) to on ice hints and tactics to goal setting, visualization and everything in between. We certainly agree with the OMHA that Hockey iQ training can be a ‘Great Equalizer’ but we haven’t forgot about what draws kids to hockey in the first place – it’s a lot of fun. Prizes, Achievement Badges, Leaderboards and Expert Interviews are some of the features we’ve added to ensure the experience is not only educational, but is a lot of fun! Check out the details on our new website – we hope to see you in the classroom soon.