I am a firm believer in building and practicing the fundamentals of sports. Recently we hosted Zoom meetings with Mike Johnston (Portland Winterhawks, former Penguins coach), Ken Hitchcock (longtime NHL coach), and Grant Armstrong (Lightning scout, former Wheat Kings GM). All three of these experienced hockey men made it clear that the most significant difference between AHL players and NHL players is the ability to pass and receive the puck.
When I take a group of hockey players, no matter what level, the first thing we do is work on the fundamentals of passing. Reactions from many players, “I already know how to pass the puck; why do we have to do this?”
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he says anyone can reach mastery of skill if they practice for 10,000 hours. That means repeating the fundamentals like passing day after day. In other words, repetition, repetition, and more repetition! Top athletes of any sport repeat their pre-game routines and the fundamentals of their sport repeatedly.
Here are some statistics compiled from Hockey Canada:
- Players will have the puck on their stick for an average of eight seconds a game.
- Players will average 1-2 shots per game.
- Players will take an average of 18 shifts per game.
- One efficient practice will give a player more skill development than 11 games collectively.
- In a 60-minute practice, each player will have the puck on his or her stick for approximately 8-12 minutes — more if the theme of the practice is puck-handling.
- Each player will take a minimum of 30 shots on the net.
Tips for players on repetition