California Rubber

California’s and Nevada’s Authoritative Voice of Hockey

Chalk Talk: Improving hockey awareness boils down to two questions


larry_cahnIt’s common to hear coaches, parents, and players all talking about what can be done away from the rink to help player development.

We hear all about stickhandling, shooting, sprint/plyo programs, weight lifting, and sometimes we hear about watching video.


In the NHL today, we are seeing many young players jump into the league and are impact players right from Day 1. This is attributed to their off-ice preparation, as well as their accelerated hockey awareness on the ice. This trend will become the norm very shortly, and it will be very important for all young players to push themselves in every area of player development to accomplish their goals.

Most coaches talk about speed and skill, which are two areas that are very important in order to succeed in this game. However, all the best players are skilled and fast! What are you going to do to differentiate yourself from the pack? The one consistent thing I see about the best players is the fact that they have the puck – a lot! That being said, what are you doing on your own time to figure out how to get the puck more?

There are lots of stats out there that claim a player only has possession of the puck 30 seconds to a minute during the course of the game. So what can a player do during the rest of the time on the ice to raise their possession time? Training with the puck is very common, but putting time into developing your game away from the puck will be the difference in making it to the next level.

I believe the answer is simple; watch video! Well, maybe not that simple, you need to watch video of your games asking yourself simple questions while you are on the ice.

1 – Where could you have gone to get the puck?
2 – What could you have done differently to keep the puck?

Those two simple questions applied correctly can help create awareness for the player. I have also noticed that players who do their own individual video in this manner develop a greater ability to read and react on the ice, which is a necessary skill to possess to move on in this game.

Self-evaluation is a key element in becoming the best player you can. To be able to maximize your time with video review, you need to be able to look through coach’s eyes as you break down your game. The players that can objectively break down their game understand their areas of weakness and can help correct the issues. The players that don’t have realistic self-evaluation ever feel they need to improve. Once a player understands what is necessary to raise their game, it is 100 persent up to them to apply the knowledge learned.

The ability to play off the puck is one of the most important aspects of becoming a great player. It’s not about only working hard, it’s about working smart. Anticipating the play, progressing your position, disappear and reappear – these are all tactics to become better off the puck. These are also concepts to apply while watching video.


1 – Where could you have gone to get the puck?
2 – What could you have done differently to keep the puck?

Once you understand how to answer these questions, your game and hockey awareness will exponentially excel.

Larry Cahn is the director of hockey for the Vacaville Jets and the head coach for the Golden State Elite 12U AA2 and 14U AA2 teams.

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