April 9, 2012 Leave a comment
“Control the body and you control the mind. Control the mind and you control the game.” – Chuck Grillo, Owner of Minnesota Hockey Camps and Former NHL Executive
Chuck is one of my mentors in both life and hockey. His words here sum up the game of hockey into two sentences.
Body positioning and body control are two of the most under-appreciated skills in the game of hockey. Watch any two games that happen at different ability levels and focus on how the players use their bodies. The better the player, the better he or she will use his or her body in a game. This is especially true at the NHL level. Pro players have exceptional body control and are the best in the world at using their bodies to gain leverage on the opponent and control the play.
Body positioning entails a number of little details. Getting in-between your opponent and the puck, using your shoulder and legs to shield the puck from your opponent and getting a lower center of gravity than your opponent all play a role in gaining proper body position.
Is there anything more frustrating in hockey than not being able to gain and maintain control of the puck? This is the second part of Chuck’s quote. Proper body position allows you to win battles and maintain puck possession, frustrating your opponent. Frustrated hockey teams get over-aggressive, desperately trying to take the puck away. How often do teams that are pinned in to their defensive zone for an extended period of time take a penalty? Pretty frequently. By controlling the body, you have controlled the mind, and taken control of the hockey game.
The next time you watch an NHL game (playoffs start Wednesday night!) notice how hard the players work just to get proper body position on their opponent. The puck will go to the corner and two players will lock up in the puck race, each attempting to gain leverage on the other. This is happening all over the ice, all the time. Body position is a huge part of an NHL hockey game.
Winning and losing hockey games often comes down to the little details. Understanding and mastering the concepts of body control and body positioning will allow you to have an edge over your opponent and the confidence to take control of the game.