What is meant by “game intensity” in hockey? What factors affect game intensity?
Game intensity is a team’s level of effort, energy, and excitement. Game intensity is being emotionally charged and physically engaged in the competition.
Some hockey teams tend to start games flat. The players don’t seem to be fully present in the game. They lack hustle in the early minutes of each period. They make poor decisions, lazy passes, and uncharacteristic mistakes.
A lack of intensity shows up in the physical play of a team, but it is caused by mental factors.
Mental Factors of Intensity
1. Intensity is a choice. Effort and focus are under your direct control. The opposing team’s tactics, level of play, record, and ability have no impact on your choice of how to play.
In fact, the intensity of the opposing team has nothing to do with your team’s intensity. For example, if the opposing team races to loose pucks, it has no impact on how aggressively you choose to play.
2. Intensity is not based on talent. You have probably heard the quote, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
In other words, intensity is not genetic. Intensity is a mentality.
3. Intensity becomes a habit. Choices, when repeated, become habits.
Quite simply, the more times you play mentally scattered and emotionally flat, the deeper that mentality is ingrained into your mind.
How can you build the intensity habit?
* Make the commitment before you arrive at the rink to give maximum effort and focus from the first drop of the puck.
* Warm up with focus and intention. Get your HR up.
* Mentally prepare before the game so you are mentally ready to set the tone when you step onto the ice.
* Prior to each shift, challenge yourself, such as to win most of your 50/50 puck battles.
* Make sure to practice with intensity.
Your intensity shows up on the ice in many ways, such as aggressive play, quick decision-making, emotional reactions, and overall performance.
When you play with intensity from the start of the game, you give your team a mental edge over the opposition.
The St. Louis Blues started the 2023-24 NHL season with a 13-13-1 record. In their 13 losses, the team’s play has been characterized as lacking intensity.
After three consecutive defeats, St. Louis Blues captain Brayden Schenn noted that the team’s mentality had led to losses and something needed to change, and it had to change quickly.
SCHENN: “I feel we just pick and choose when we want to turn up the intensity in hockey games. You’re not going to win like that in this league. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing… We feel like we don’t have to start on time, which is resulting in losses. That’s just the reality of it. It’s just coming ready to play and taking pride in doing the work, putting in the work each and every night.”
Since you are a member of a team, you are responsible for your preparation, mentality, and intensity. Remember, the choices you make impact your team’s overall performance.
During warm-up, remind your teammates to play with intensity.
For example, “Let’s be aggressive from the start by talking loud, skating hard, using our bodies, and going hard for loose pucks.”
Not only does it help your teammates set the tone for the game, it becomes a mental cue for you to play with intensity.
Related Articles on Hockey Mental Game:
- Be Ready when Your Number is Called
- How Hockey Players Cope with Difficult Conditions
- Hockey Players That Worry Too Much
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