Importance of Mastering Essential Skills
In hockey just like all other sports, it all starts with understanding and then learning the essential skills.
As a coach who has coached both at a senior and junior level, I always find it interesting and alarming on how many hockey players have failed to master essential hockey skills.
In hockey just like all other sports, it all starts with understanding and then learning the essential skills so the question needs to be asked on why there is so many hockey players coming though without a solid basic skill background. Is this because as juniors they have just not been taught these skills because of not having the correct coaching from an early age or access to resources to show them correct techniques. Could it also be that learning essential skills is hard work and may not be as exciting as doing back stick tomahawks or overheads. Most likely the answer is yes to both but realistically down the track somewhere if you can’t trap and hit a ball then your overhead shot or back stick shot won’t get you far as a player.
I once heard a young junior coach comment on my coaching philosophy by saying that they thought I focused on the basics too much. To put it in perspective, I was coaching a team of 10 year olds and many of them the first year of full field hockey as coach you need to teach them the basics before they can learn anything else and I make no apologies for this. Ask any successful player on what contributed to their success and I’m certain they will recognise their skills training as a big contributor to their success. I’m also confident that fast forward 5 years from now that the group of 10 years old that I was coaching will go on to master more complex skills and experience success in the sport.
As a coach but also a parent, I consistently emphasis to them and the players that I coach the importance of understanding and working hard to master the essential skills first before you learn the fancy skills. In other words they need to learn to crawl first before they can walk.
There is no shortcuts with skills development, it all comes down to starting with the essentials and practicing them regularly. Practicing skills is not just for junior players but also should be done by senior players regularly.
A good hockey player is not defined solely by skill level as they also need to have good positioning, vision, and overall good knowledge of the game as well, but having a good strong skill level combined with these other factors makes for a dynamic hockey player.
Its never too late to refine the essential skills and you could consider it as a skills correction program, but by refining and working on your essential skills you can be assured that your hockey game and your confidence will be improved.