At my schools, clinics, and the teams that I coach, I am constantly telling my players “skate the game, not the drill”. The point that I am trying to drive home with my players is that you have to skate every drill in practice like it is a game. Muscle memory is something that is very important in sports, especially in a sport such as hockey where pace, speed, and timing is so important. If you get used to taking it in easy in the practices and don’t pay attention to detail, that is going to carry over into your game. You have to form good habits, speed, and intensity in your practices for maximum development and for next level advancement. If your coach asks you to make a move at the cone, don’t attack that cone like it is only a cone. You have to attack that cone like it is a real defenseman. That muscle memory and intensity will carry over into your games. Our tournament teams will play some of the top AAA teams in North America during the spring and summer. In warm-ups, our teams will sometimes look comparable as far as speed and skill. But then once the puck is dropped, their thought process and game speed and pace is so much quicker than ours. The main reason is that they play at that speed everyday, where we only play at that speed when we play teams of that caliber. If you want to improve and take your game to the next level, it all starts at the practices. Skate the game and not the drill and you will see your game improve immediately.