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Improving Game Speed - April 13th 2019

A parent emailed me recently asking if I could help work on his sons game speed. He isn’t lacking in actual speed but his decision-making on the field tends to slow him down and that leads to a lack of playing time. What can be done about this?

 The only real way to improve how an athlete thinks on the field is to spend more time under tension. If he is getting minimal minutes on the field he needs to spend more time in competitive situations in practice. More time spent competing against his teammates where he is put in situations that require him to come up with a solution to a problem, less time slogging through “drills” that require you to physically move without using any of your senses. Line up the forwards vs defensive players in a 3 on 3 game and give the forwards 30 seconds to find a way to score. Remove a defensive player and instruct the defense to defend in a 3 forward vs 2 defense situation for 15 seconds. Competitive situations like these will push the athletes to create solutions to problems. Agility drills make athletes very good at running back and forth between cones.

 I hate agility drills.

 The coaches should also spend time asking questions to the athletes as to why they made decisions on certain plays. After the 30-second 3 vs 3 described above, the coaches ask questions about what happened. Get these kids thinking about the decisions they make on the field. Take the pressure off in these situations, let the athletes fail and succeed and then help them figure out why they failed or succeeded.

 When I played hockey in college, I remember getting a pat on the back when I played well and I remember getting yelled at when I did something boneheaded. I do not remember any coaches asking me what happened there or why I did what I did. I mean, if someone had pulled me aside and tried to get me thinking I might have been the first Alex Ovechkin. Probably not, but, it might have helped me dig into why I played a certain way.

 Athletes need to spend more time competing and asking questions. When athletes are confident in their abilities to solve problems, they will be able to display their full physical abilities.



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