*You might find it interesting to know that my working subtitle as I entered this project was something like "The things you should know before it's too late." Sad to say it's true -- that most of us have to learn the hard way when it comes to discovering how to really prepare to play our game. And not until one has sorted through all the wives' tales and bad advice can a player, parent or coach make truly meaningful gains. So, although I may have changed the book cover more recently, my real hope is that a lot of the information I provide within will save some hockey player or team an awful lot of anguish.
*Make no mistake about it, "the nature of our game" is significant, because it involves an in depth study of what a hockey player really goes through during a game. It's about the challenges he or she faces -- during a momentary confrontation, during a shift, over the course of a game, during a long season. And it's about the physical and mental qualities that make the greatest difference, as opposed to those things some believe might matter.
Understanding the nature of our game helps us make wiser equipment choices, and it suggests to us the best ways to train -- for technique, speed, coordination, strength and stamina.
That in mind, want to play along with me for a moment?
The accompanying animation has been circulated around the Internet for at least a decade. And, even though the stick gives that guy away, I'm sure that everyone immediately recognizes that as a hockey skating motion. For some reason, you're not going to believe it's a figure skater, nor do you think for one second it's a speed skater. No -- again, something tells you from the start that it's a hockey player.
That being the case -- that a hockey player moves differently than a figure skater or speed skater, why would any hockey instructor train his or her players to move like either of the other two skaters? Can some worthwhile skills or exercises be borrowed from those other sports? Absolutely. However, is there a danger in basing too much training on either of those other skating sports? You bet!
Actually, I spend a lot of time in my new book suggesting the skating challenges players face within the nature of our game. And so do I cover all the other important individual skills, like puckhandling, passing, pass receiving, shooting, and defending.
I also get deeply into the way our playing surface, rink markings and other such factors influence the formation of strategies and tactics.
This is definitely not an X's and O's manual, however. Yet it's important for us to study the demands of attacking and defending in order to help a player develop the physical and mental qualities that lead to success in our game.
Actually, to expand on the subtitle a bit, let me suggest that my book is really a combination of science and common sense. For sure, it's important for hockey players, parents and coaches to know what the PhDs have discovered in their labs or in their studies. At the same time, I want everything in my book to make sense to its reader.
And that brings us back to my book's title, or my attempt to relate every decision we make based on what a player truly deals with in the real hockey action. If there's one shame, it's what I suggested in the second paragraph, in that far too many in our game don't discover they've been following the wrong advice until it's far too late.
Have a question concerning either my title or subtitle? Just leave a comment below.
Yours in hockey,
Dennis Chighisola/Coach Chic