We are back at it in full swing to start the season, and it’s been an awesome start!
Just last weekend alone, our organization from Canada to the US to Europe logged over 25 viewable games, 6 of them live NHL games. We chat about trends, what our coaches saw and how we can continue to improve our method. Just like on the ice, we stay ahead, we dictate and set trends for the industry to follow. This week we came up with… Speed, Skill, IQ.
We already thought the game got fast in a hurry over the last 3 years, but now it’s like WOW, everybody can move. Moving WELL is a different story, but in today’s game everyone can at least move. We’re not just referencing the NHL here. We’re also talking about the countless minor, Jr. and college players we train, even the ones that are deemed the slowest on their team’s can still move these days. In fact, the speedy environment of the game has actually forced players to move with so much more speed compared to earlier generations, what a paradigm shift!
We’ve been ahead of this shift for a long time now, studying the body and its biomechanical principles for the past decade. And while this makes up an important baseline study of movement, we also know a ton of non-elite movers that can play. Over the weekend, one important thing became so apparent: tandem skills and great puck movement. Before the last couple of years, it was almost a lost art.
The development industry didn’t help by adding a ton of props to programming that took away from developing tandem skill. Players could stickhandle in a phone booth (with their head down because the complexity was too hard…more on this in another blog) but seriously, there was no tandem. We think this started shifting 5 years ago and now resembles the puck moving days of Henri the “Rocket” Richard, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky.
Interesting enough, styles change, just like our clothes and are influenced by top minds in the game. Today, they have clearly made their decision. Individual speed is important but skill with the speed is even more important. Everybody’s “fast”. The days are over that player’s beat other players on speed alone. The skill components and concepts that dictate play are clearly re-writing the corsi yearbooks.
What about IQ, where does this fit in? How can an average skater, average passer, average puck handler, average shooter be the best? Average fundamental skills but a pure weapon on the ice? That’s IQ. Most people think of IQ as game smarts and it is. But as you know we don’t follow trends, we set them, and we’ve been researching “IQ’s” deepest secrets. We like to teach it 3 very unique ways.
Anticipate, Dictate, Timing.
If these 3 qualities are present in a player’s mindset, average fundamentals get pushed aside and a deeper understanding of performance can be understood. We built a company on the foundation of movement. But it’s only the foundation. There are so many other layers. When speaking to your kids or evaluating a player (post age Bantam, because there are two many strength/size differences at younger levels to evaluate properly), the players with Anticipate, Dictate and Timing “skills” will 9/10 always be the best.
As coaches, those are your studs. Not the physical freaks. Don’t be fooled by the “dark side”. The IQ players just get it. They are hockey players. The funny thing is, it also makes them fast out there too. Have you ever heard these statements around the rinks?
“He doesn’t move the best but he’s always in the right spot” again, IQ, living in the anticipatory layer.
“She doesn’t move really well but creates so much space” again, IQ living in the dictating layer.
“He/she doesn’t move really well but they’re the best player without the puck” again, IQ, living in the timing layer. All such interesting stuff! Where does it all get weighted?
That’s our secret.
We’ve pounded 100+ hour weeks for the last 10 years to create our unique method. While movement is at our core, we understood that the transfer to games is more important than movement itself.
So, what are we? Skating coach, skill coach, mental coach, teacher, mentor, leader?
All the above.
We understood a long time ago that we serve people and the greatest game in the world. We call it performance. That’s what we do.