Kevin Neeld — Hockey Training, Sports Performance, & Sports Science

3 Tips to Become a Better Hockey Player

I’m still pumped up from USA’s win over Canada yesterday. When Ryan Kesler dove to score that empty net goal, I dove across the couch onto my girlfriend Emily in celebration (Amazingly, no Emilys were harmed in the making of that celebration). What a game.

The good news for Canada fans: I think the US just woke up a sleeping beast. I’d be surprised if Canada didn’t rebound with an incredible performance in their next game.

Even if they don’t, YOU can still win. Watching good hockey puts me in a good mood. I’ve decided to extend my 3 free bonuses giveaway for new Hockey Training Expert members.  Sign up for a membership and you can instantly download a copy of Breakaway Hockey Speed, Hockey Nutrition 101, and Hockey Training Expert’s Mental Performance Package.

Hockey Training Expert

I’m in, sign me up!

I’m obviously a huge proponent of off-ice training to improve a hockey player’s performance. Having said that, it would be irresponsible and…well…stupid of me to say that a good training program is ALL you need.

Dominant hockey players aren’t just fast, or strong, or well-conditioned. They see the ice well. They read the play. They create time and space for themselves.

See the Ice Better
One of the single most effective habits a hockey player can have is to take a quick scan of the ice BEFORE they get the puck. As a pass is on its way, pick your head up and get an idea of your surroundings. Is someone from the other team bearing down on you? Do you have time to collect the pass and make a play or do you need to just tip the puck to a safe area? Has one of your teammates slipped behind the other team, looking for a quick pass from you?

Scanning the ice before you get the puck will help you make smarter, quicker decisions.

Read the Play Better
Reading the play comes down to knowing the game of hockey. You need to be able to anticipate the developing play so you can make the smartest decision, with or without the puck. As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the best ways to become better at reading the play is to WATCH a lot of hockey. Pick a team around your age but at a higher level, and an older team at an elite level and follow a single player around that plays your position. Watch how he/she responds to certain plays and anticipates others.

Learning from players at higher levels will allow you to become more familiar/comfortable with a variety of game situations and respond faster on the ice.

Create More Time and Space
Creating time and space gives you the freedom to make better passes and take better shots. It decreases the pressure on you. Knowing your surroundings and reading the play are paramount to creating time and space for yourself (that’s why this is the last of the three). One easy way to create time and space for yourself WITH the puck is to take 2-3 quick strides immediately after receiving a pass. Naturally this will somewhat depend on your positioning on the ice and your surroundings, but in general this is an effective habit to develop.

Taking 2-3 quick strides after receiving a pass will help create separation between you and your opponent, allowing you the time and space to make a better play.

Train Hard. Play Smart.

Kevin Neeld

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Kevin Neeld

Kevin Neeld Knows Hockey

Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.