AHU Coach’s Corner: How watching hockey can make you a better player
One of my favorite things to do on an off day from hockey was to watch it.
I remember watching highlights of Alex Ovechkin, Jarome Iginla and Sidney Crosby just before games. These guys are the reason why people want to grow up and be a professional hockey player. They give kids hope and something to look forward to.
When you watch hockey, you can learn a lot. You see the way that these guys warm up, practice and lastly, play in the games. When you are a young hockey player, a big thing is skill development and let’s face it – all the guys in the NHL are there for a reason. If you watch these players in the game, you can see how they use their skill.
You learn things such as slowing down the play or when to use a fake shot or even how they find the open ice when they don’t have the puck.
A lot of people like myself are visual learners and this is the best way for a young player to learn the game. When the kids see the pros doing something simple like chipping a puck to go get it because there was no other option, then they start to do the same things. I used to watch games all the time and even while I was stickhandling in the garage, I would have the outside TV on watching the hockey game. This also taught me to keep my head up on the ice while I had the puck.
As I said before, when you watch these players, you can learn so much. My parents never played hockey and my coaches had to worry about 20 other players, so the next best thing for me to learn was to watch games and watch the guys that I looked up to as they skated up the ice making play after play. What I watched on the TV or the computer, I would then try and translate that onto the ice and try what these guys are trying in their games. If I saw a guy cut across the blue line and skate laterally to take a fake shot and get defenders to bite on it before he made the play, well, then I would try it and it gave me another move to add to my list. It helped me learn the game a lot because there are some things that you don’t even think of doing or even learn as a kid, so who better to learn these things from?
My skill got a lot better while I watched hockey. Don’t get me wrong – I worked really hard at it, but it taught me the mental skill, as well as the physical skill. There used to be times that a guy would get ran and his team would be on the power play, but I would watch him and instead of getting even with the guy right away, he would go out on the power play and score or even set up a nice goal for his team.
That’s one way to get back at someone.
I would even see a move and then go into the garage and act like I was in the NHL making the same moves and winning a Stanley Cup. It’s the little things like this that drive a kid to become better and want to be something big in their life. It allows a kid to set goals for his or herself and go out and do it.
Colten St. Clair is the head coach and general manager of the Phoenix Knights Tier II junior team in the Western States Hockey League and the skills coach for the Arizona Hockey Union.
(Oct. 17, 2017)