When we talk about hockey IQ, we’re really talking about a player’s understanding of the game. It’s like the difference between someone who just plays hockey and someone who really “gets” it.

So the question is, how do you get better at this? Well, here are 3 useful tips that might help you out:

Work on Your Skating Skills

Skating might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of hockey IQ, but it’s actually a crucial part. Being confident and skilled on the ice allows players to really open up their game.

Take Quinn Hughes, for example. His exceptional skating skills mean he can keep cool even when defenders are closing in. He’s always ready to make a smart pass because he knows he can zip away when he needs to.

Then there’s Sidney Crosby who uses the open hip technique to position himself to have a complete view of the ice. That way, he can make better-informed decisions during the game.

Players like William Nylander or Nathan MacKinnon also show how skating impacts hockey IQ. Their quick turns create more space and time, which is key for making strategic plays.

That said, improving your skating skills isn’t just about time on the ice. It also involves building strength, power, and stability in key lower body muscles like the ankles, quads, hips, and groin.

That’s why we suggest that players 12 and older should engage in hockey-specific dryland training programs. These programs can really help in developing those essential skating muscles, complementing the skills learned on the ice.

Play More

The environment in which a hockey player trains and develops is crucial for enhancing their hockey IQ. It’s one thing to be skilled at skating and puck handling in drills, like weaving through cones, but that’s just part of the picture.

Real-game situations involve reading other players, communicating effectively with teammates, understanding spacing on the ice, and mastering the art of deception.

These are skills you can’t fully develop just by practicing alone or in static drills.

This ties into the concept of Ecological Dynamics in sports motor learning, which is becoming increasingly recognized in hockey training. This approach emphasizes the importance of practicing in environments that closely mimic actual game scenarios.

The idea is pretty straightforward: The more a player trains in situations that reflect real game conditions, the better they become at making smart, quick decisions during a match. This kind of training helps in developing a high Hockey IQ because it challenges players to adapt, respond, and think just as they would during an intense game.

It’s about creating those game-like scenarios in practice to cultivate the skills that truly matter on the ice.

Work on Your Stickhandling Skills

Improving puck-handling skills does more than just enhance a player’s ability to perform flashy moves. It directly contributes to their hockey IQ in some pretty significant ways.

Firstly, when a player is more comfortable and confident handling the puck, it reduces their anxiety on the ice. This means they’re less likely to make rushed decisions, like forcing a pass or shot when it’s not the best choice.

When players aren’t panicking, they’re able to think more clearly and make smarter plays.

Secondly, being at ease with the puck allows players to keep their heads up. This is crucial as it lets them scan the ice, keep track of where their teammates and opponents are, and understand the flow of the game.

This awareness is key to making effective decisions, like knowing when to pass, shoot, or hold onto the puck.

The real takeaway is that when players work on improving their stickhandling, they often think about beating opponents in 1-on-1 situations. While that’s a great skill, the real value lies in how these improvements boost their overall hockey IQ.

Better stickhandling leads to better game awareness, decision-making, and ultimately, a more effective presence on the ice.

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