The 3 steps to develop game understanding and specific situational tactical awareness by Coach Shiv Jagday


Step 1: When the players are in their early to mid-teens, practice sessions should be designed as such which expose them to the various game situations they will encounter at the higher level of competition. The best way to achieve this is via Mini Hockey Games, 3 on 2, 3 on 3, 4 on 3 and 4 on 4. IOW train in a game simulated environment and not in isolation. Avoid drills which force the player’s to dribble and run through the cones. This is counterproductive to some extent.

Just an example of 4 on 3 mini hockey game to teach the concepts of the various types of marking.
Just an example of 4 on 3 mini hockey game to teach the concepts of the various types of marking.

Step 2: Teach and expose the players to the various basic concepts which govern the game during a classroom video sessions and on the field.

Step 3: During the Mini hockey games, Freeze the Game and ask the players open ended questions. Covering 5 W’s and H regarding the given game situations “using guided discovery method”. As this will help the coach understand the player’s perspective, level of thinking and how they see and read the game situation.

How will these 3 steps help?

  1. Help the players to instantly recognize the fast changing patterns of play.
  2. Develop a deeper insight to differentiate between the moves/plays, which are highly effective than the ones which are less or not effective at all.
  3. Develop awareness of most effective patterns of play, from the various quadrants and their specific pockets, which may be Gold Mines or Field Mines waiting to be blasted, from the offensive and defensive point of view.
  4. Develop Creativity to solve problems. For Example: When the ideal play making game situations don’t prevail, how to create them. What strategies to embrace and implement and which ones to discard.
  5. Recognize the openings / opportunities as soon as they occur or even before they occur. Playing in the future

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By Pablo Mendoza

Pablo Mendoza is an FIH Hockey Academy Educator and the owner of A Hockey World. Contact: