This post was motivated by reading the tweet below from @CoachRevak. Take a listen to Dwayne Blais @NSDAhockey talk about how a player’s ability to change speed and direction with the puck, to create time and space, make him/her more difficult to defend than a player who just has speed. There are lots of players who are fast but not a lot of players who have different speeds and can change direction in an instant with control of their edges.
The ability to change speed and direction are skills necessary to execute almost every tactic in the game, such as, but not limited to the following:
- Beating a defender in a One on One match up,
- Cycling the puck down low below the hash marks in the Offensive Zone,
- Supporting the puck on the Attack Rush,
- Regrouping in the Neutral Zone,
- Advancing the puck in the Offensive Zone at different levels,
- Breaking out of the Defensive Zone.
Being able to skate fast is an asset to any player but there are lots of players who can skate fast and take away your time and space with the puck because of their ability to match speed.
Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon’s names came up in the podcast because they are both skilled in executing change of speed and direction and controlling the puck to create time and space and make plays. There is no player in the world more skilled than Connor McDavid in changing speed and direction and controlling the puck in tight spaces. Take a listen to him talk about his Top Five Plays in the video below and watch his execution in the clips to examine why speed and change of direction make him so difficult to defend.
Deliberate Practice is a concept important to developing skills. Watch the video below to examine the technique and proper fundamentals McDavid is working on with Carlo to improve his inside and outside edge control and ability to change speeds and direction while controlling the puck at different speeds and angles.
Deliberate practice is more important than the number of hours you practice. Repetitions matter but you need to be working on developing specific skills with the right technique and fundaments at the same time.