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Shoot, Move, and Communicate

Three Fundamentals for Success on the Ice

"What is the sound of artillery? BOOM BOOM!

"Raining down on the enemy, BOOM BOOM!

"Shoot, move, and communicate!" BOOM BOOM!

The above three lines form part of a popular Army running cadence, complete with gestures to accompany the "BOOM BOOM!" But that third line details the fundamentals of how the Army operates. In the simplest of terms, in order to be successful, the Army must shoot—engage and destroy the enemy. They must also move—prevent the enemy from obtaining a good, easy target. And finally, they must communicate—information has to flow up and down the chain of command and across adjacent units.

These fundamentals also serve as a strong foundation to being an effective hockey player. Let's take a look at how each aspect applies to hockey and how you can incorporate it into your game.

Shoot.

I'm sure every hockey player has heard the adage, "Good things happen when you throw the puck on net," or something very similar. And it's true, the more shots on net, the more likely one of them will go in. In order to win games, you have to shoot the puck. Simply put, the only way to score goals (and ultimately win games) is to shoot the puck. Too many players nowadays try to get fancy with the puck and typically end up turning the puck over or missing out on a quality scoring chance. If you shoot the puck, you never know what can happen. If you've got a good enough shot, you could just beat the goalie outright. Or maybe he bobbles it and it goes in. Or it deflects off a stick or another player and gets redirected into the net. Any of those outcomes are possible if you shoot the puck. None of them happen if you try to dangle around somebody and get the puck knocked away. Work on shooting the puck more when you're running drills in practice.

Move

"Legs feed the wolf" as Coach Herb Brooks would say. A frequent outburst from a coach watching either practice or a game is "move your feet!" Movement is critical in hockey. No matter where you are on the ice, you should always be moving. The minute you stop, you put yourself at a disadvantage. If you're a winger catching a breakout pass and you're not moving your feet as you get the puck, you'll have a harder time beating that defenseman pinching down into the zone. Or beating the opposing team back-checkers. If you're a defenseman sitting at the point in the offensive zone and aren't moving, it's harder to react to an opposing forward blowing out of the zone and giving up an odd-man rush. Moving allows you to be an option for your teammates to pass the puck to. I challenge you to pay attention to yourself in drills and in games—if you catch yourself not moving, fix it. Tell yourself to "Move!"

Communicate.

For some reason, communication is one of the hardest things to accomplish in hockey. Calling for passes, warning teammates about pressure, switching up a defensive zone coverage—the best players are doing this (and more) on a constant basis. Even chatting with linemates in between shifts about things that could be improved from the previous shift. Communication is key. I had a coach tell our team we needed to communicate more on the ice, adding, "You're not gonna get a penalty for being too loud or talking too much." He's right, there's nothing preventing you from being a better communicator on the ice and on the bench except you. Even the best players can't see 100 percent of what's going on during a game. That's where communication comes in. When you communicate, you help your teammates fill in the gaps between what they see and what they can't see. Ultimately, this helps each player make the best play. Start in practice—call for every puck, tell your teammates if they have time or if there's hard pressure, and talk to your linemates about what happened in the last rep and what you can fix for next time. I guarantee it will help you and your teammates.

Shooting, movement, and communication are so vital to being a great hockey player, but are frequently overlooked. Incorporate them into your game, and it will help exponentially. So, next time you get on the ice, remember, "Shoot, move, and communicate! BOOM BOOM!"

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