Cougars new associate coach Dixon holds a master’s degree in sports psychology

Josh Dixon’s playing days came to an end when he was just 15 years old.

Headbutted from behind after the whistle, he took the advice of two neurologists linked to the team and hung up his skates, but this unprovoked bellringer did not end his desire for a career in hockey.

“It was everything for me to play, unfortunately, so I started coaching right away and have been coaching ever since,” said Dixon. “Everything went well and I’m still in the game.

The Prince George Cougars are certainly delighted. They hired the Oakville, Ont. Native as their new associate coach.

Dixon, 38, comes to the Cougars with impeccable training and credentials. Prior to joining the WHL as an assistant coach for the Regina Pats in 2011, he spent eight seasons in the varsity ranks with Carleton, Calgary and Mount Royal, coaching the men’s and women’s programs. He was also a head coach at the Okanagan Hockey Academy. In 2014, after three seasons with the Pats, he was hired as an assistant with the Swift Current Broncos under the direction of current Cougar head coach and general manager Mark Lamb, and that season he coached. the Saskatchewan team at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George. He was twice named assistant coach for Canadian teams at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

In 2015, after two years as Director of Player Development for Creative Artists Agency, Dixon began a three-season stint as the head coach of the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and, in 2019 , he coached the QMJHL stars in the QMJHL. Canada-Russia Super Series.

Dixon replaces Jason Smith, who left the Cougars in August after two seasons in Prince George to take on the assistant coach position with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League, the Philadelphia Flyers’ top farm team.

In addition to training tactics, Dixon also understands the mental side of the game, having completed a Masters in Sports Psychology from the University of Calgary. Having worked in the Hockey Canada program of excellence, he also holds a master’s degree from the National Coaching Institute in High Performance Coaching.

Dixon’s understanding of the psychology of sports and what works to get the most out of teenage athletes performing the game at the highest level possible will no doubt help Cougars achieve their goals. He is well versed in theories and has had years behind the bench to put those concepts into practice.

“Definitely in the Major Junior, because of the expectations we would expect coaches, fans and scouts to expect these guys to be pros and to be the same player every night, but it’s a hard thing to do at any age, let alone between 16 and 20, so mental play becomes really very important, ”Dixon said.

“The goal is to teach and develop the mental skills is to try to reduce the performance bandwidth so that their best game and their worst game are close enough and consistency can really come if you are mentally strong. You realize how mental the game is and as a coach that ends up being a big part of your job and role.

“We focus so much on the physique and the ice and technique and tactics, but the mind is a big part that is often overlooked.”

From their days in Swift Current, Dixon has kept in touch with Lamb and looks forward to working with him to form a young Cougars team and bring the city its first WHL Championship.

“I’m really lucky to have the chance to work with Mark again, someone I respect so much,” Dixon said. “He’s a winner, a top class individual and an exceptional coach and general manager. I loved working with him in Swift Current. So when the opportunity arose to work with him again and try to win a championship, the decision was easy.

The cancellation of the minor hockey season last winter due to the pandemic forced the WHL to delay its draft from the usual time in May and this year it will only take place in December. The change means Lamb will be away from the Cougars on scout trips several times throughout the season to get a glimpse of available 2006-born players and Dixon will stay with the squad and become the bench chief again.

“I was head coach for almost three years in the Quebec league and I know what this job involves,” said Dixon. “But I was also an associate or assistant coach and I know that role too. I know how Mark works and what his expectations are and he certainly knows how I work too, so that should be a good choice.

“When I was in Saint John, we had the youngest team in the CHL, we were rebuilding, and Mark was talking about rebuilding here as well. It was sort of a similar trajectory. The young talent here is really impressive – a lot of guys who can really play, and a lot of depth, from the away goalie position.

Dixon drove from Georgetown, Ont., And arrived a few days before training camp opened on Thursday. He and his wife Laura have a son, Jake, who turns four on October 4e, two days after the Cougars’ season opened at the CN Center against the Kamloops Blazers.

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