player tips

13

February

What Are You Teaching About Tryouts?

Posted by Greg Carter
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Tryouts are undoubtedly one of, if not the most, stressful times of the hockey season. What can you do to reduce some of the anxiety and nervousness during the week? Over the years we have discovered a few great nuggets of advice to assist both players and parents.

The first thing we like to talk about is preparedness. Have you done everything you could at hockey camp, during the season, and practicing on your own to work on your weaknesses and improve your skills? Being prepared for tryouts includes getting good rest, having the little things taken care of ahead of time – such as skate sharpening, tape and laces – as well as eating the right types of food that will provide much needed energy. I’ll never forget watching a parent park on the curb of the rink to unload a player who ran a 40 yard dash to the locker room. Why? Because the line for skate sharpening at the local sporting goods store was 10 deep! How do you think that player performed that day!

Confidence is also important, and is a direct result of preparedness. When you hit the ice for tryouts, are you poised and self-assured, knowing that you have done all you possibly could to improve every aspect of your game. Skating is one of the primary skills that a tryout evaluator will take notice of. Shooting, stickhandling, hustle and ‘game awareness’ are also important. Be confident in your game and it will show!

Manage the mayhem. This is very important, because as a parent, the more excited you get about tryouts and the more stress and anxiety that you show, the more your child will bring it onto the ice. What are you teaching and talking about when it comes to tryouts? Rather than spending the week quizzing your child about how they did during each and every drill and scrimmage, focus on making sure they are prepared with good rest and meals. What we have found is that it’s best to simply give your player everything they need to properly prepare and have the confidence to perform, and then let them talk about it when they are ready. It’s amazing how obvious it is to see the stress and downright fear in the face of the players who get lectured on the way to the rink.

Finally, one very important thing to keep in mind about the week of tryouts, is that although it is one short period of time to show what you’ve got, coaches have been watching and listening. This is where some intangibles come into play. If you are a player that consistently is a positive player who brings a great attitude and a team player mentality, this is going to help when it comes down to tough decisions. Coaches know players, whether they have coached them recently or not, they know what they are getting both on and off the ice. If you have worked hard this season and been a good player and teammate, you are already well on your way to a great tryout.

Remember, this is one tryout in one moment in time. We have seen plenty of players make a team one year, and get cut the next. The motivated ones are those who come back the following year and make the team again. There are plenty of great players in college and the NHL who have been cut from a team. The biggest regret you will have is if you weren’t prepared and didn’t give it your all, so get prepared, get some rest and eat well and the rest will take care of itself!

Good luck at tryouts and we look forward to hearing how you did this summer at one of our camps in 10 states!
If you haven’t already signed up, registration is in full swing and you can claim your spot today!

31

January

Goal Scorers & Prolific Passers

Posted by Greg Carter
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Most teams have a goal scorer that can be counted on to find the back of the net on a regular basis. And as every good hockey coach will attest to, wherever you find a goal scorer, there is usually a great playmaker nearby. While everyone wants to score goals, having the talent to read a play and put the puck on the tape is an equally impressive skill.

Are you a good passer? Making a good pass can be the difference between winning and losing a game. In practice it can be the difference between a great start to a drill, or it ending before it ever begins as the puck slides down the entire length of the ice.

Practicing passing, and the proper fundamentals, should be a regular part of your skill training. Becoming a better passer is a simple way for players to make huge contributions to their team, and it all starts with a good hockey personality. A good personality you might ask? Absolutely, because in order to be a good passer you can’t be a puck hog! Great passers have a high ‘hockey IQ’ and try to making the right hockey play, not just trying to light the lamp themselves. And best of all? Great playmakers know that when they make a great pass, they oftentimes can expect a great pass back!

Tips and tricks to passing with precision:

Vision. Making a good pass starts with keeping your head up and being aware of the play. The skill of passing involves reading and anticipating the play, and not just making a pass, but making the right pass.

Accuracy = Tape-to-tape. Players hear this all of the time from coaches, and in order to make an accurate pass you need to look at your target and make a good, crisp pass with a proper follow through. Taking the extra split second to find your target and see how fast he is moving is something that will come naturally with practice. A pass into the skates of your linemate is a surefire way to quickly end a breakout or breakaway. Practice makes perfect, so hit the tape every time in practice and you stand a good chance of doing the same in the game!

Mechanics. The mechanics of passing have changed over the years as sticks have evolved. Gone are the days of needing to over emphasize receiving the puck, especially as players get older and stronger and the stick flexes when receiving passes. Some fundamentals do remain constant, such as not slapping at the puck. This is a common mistake players make at younger ages. Instead of slapping at the puck, players should concentrate on the puck rolling off the blade from the heel toward the toe in a sweeping motion. Weight transfer is also important, so move from your back to front skate as you begin your follow through.

Once players master the basic fundamentals of passing, they can start to practice more advanced passes such as a saucer pass, which is one of our absolute favorites! Take the time to work on your skills so that when the game is on the line, you make the perfect tape-to-tape pass!

Need more help with your passing and skill development? Join us at one of our 2018 Summer Hockey Camps in ten states this summer!

15

January

Hockey School

There are two types of hockey players, a player who thinks of themselves first, and the player who is unselfish, and puts the team first. If you want to play at the next level, your best chance is not by being a “me” player focused on personal stats and accomplishments, but instead by being a player who makes the entire team better through unselfish play.

Someone summarized a recent game by saying that it seems like parents used to come to the rink to cheer on the team, but now they come to the rink to cheer on their child. While every parent wants nothing more than what’s best for their child, hockey is a team sport, and it should be treated that way.

What makes hockey such a great sport is that you celebrate a win, or become humbled by a loss, with your buddies. It can become a major distraction to team chemistry however if a player doesn’t celebrate the win because they themselves didn’t score a goal or make a big play. This is the beauty of the sport of hockey, it was your friends who picked you up and help earned the win so that the next game, it can be your turn to ride the momentum and make the big play.

 

Every hockey player loves to win! And playing with a “we” versus “me” attitude is a key to this success.

“We” players make the easy pass to their buddy standing on the side of the crease for the tap in goal.

“Me” players take a bad angle shot.

“We” players get off the ice when they can after a good shift.

“Me” players stay on longer than they should.

“We” players celebrate a win, regardless of their personal contributions.

“Me” players celebrate, win or lose, based on how they played.

“We” players win championships!

Coaching hockey and developing skills is extremely rewarding. Players with really good talent need to have a lot of “we” in their game. At younger ages the better players can develop a “do it all” attitude. However as players develop into teenage years, it becomes increasingly more difficult to dominate games. “Me” players need to develop a “we” attitude to play at the next level.

As a college scout recently said to me about a player he was watching “The distinguishing factor for us in recruiting this player versus another with equal talent is that he is selfless and makes the right hockey decisions regardless how it impacts their name in the box score. He puts team success ahead of individual accomplishments. That tells me he understands the game, the team, and that fits in with the culture of my team.”

And just at that moment the “we” player came down on a two-on-one and with an opportunity to shoot from an awkward angle, feathered a saucer pass over the sprawling defenseman’s stick onto the tape of the winger who tapped it into an open net.

With a wink of an eye the scout closed his book and walked off saying I’ll take “we” over “me” every time.

Thanks for reading and we welcome the opportunity to help develop your hockey skills at one of our summer hockey schools located in ten states this summer. Click here for dates and locations!

02

January

Hockey School

Building skills is what we do best at our hockey schools each summer. With the fresh ice of the New Year, what skills will you focus on in 2018? Here is a list of some of the most important skill sets that you need, and definitely those that should be a part of your New Year’s hockey resolutions!

Patience. Players need patience, especially as they get older, and opportunities to make plays become increasingly more difficult. Sometimes the perfect pass isn’t made handling the puck like a hot potato, but instead waiting for the opponent to react to your line mate, to your head fake or simply panicking and committing before they need to. Good hockey players keep their head up, have great awareness and know that patience is a virtue!

Create odd-man situations. This is one of our favorites, and it’s really pretty simple. How many times have you seen a winger in the offensive zone work hard to win a battle in the corner and pass the puck back to the point, only to have the defense shoot the puck right into the opponents shin pad? If that defenseman had their head up, and rather than shooting the puck, simply made a move to get around that forward (who most likely is over-committed in attempting to block the shot) the defenseman would have all kinds of time and space to make a great pass or shot. Why? because they made a move around a player and created an odd-man situation. The same holds true for break-outs, if the defense is able to beat one player before making a pass, there is an immediate odd-man rush heading out of the zone!

Skating. The best players can flat out skate, and there is no substitution for quickness and speed, as we’ve discussed in previous articles. Make 2018 the year that you reinvest time and energy into power skating, as this might be the best single skill that you can work on to improve your game!

Agility. Body control is important in the ladder of skill development, and is a key component of the Carter Method of teaching. There are a sequence of drills that players can use to help them understand and enhance body movements to improve their overall balance and body posture.

As you hit the ice to start 2018, take the time to evaluate your progress this season, and if you are on track to accomplishing your goals. Making some New Year’s resolutions to improve your hockey skills is a great way to identify and refocus, and will make you a better hockey player! From our hockey family to yours, Happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you at one of our camps in ten states in 2018!

12

December

The Need For Speed

Posted by Greg Carter
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Hockey can often seem like a very complex game, but it really doesn’t have to be. Simply put, it is a game of creating favorable odd-man situations and winning ten foot races to the puck, which we have talked about in previous articles. Every player who laces up their skates has a need for speed, and while some possess a natural talent for accelerating like a Jack Russell Terrier chasing a red a squirrel through the neighbor’s backyard, most players have to work extremely hard on and off of the ice to develop and maintain their speed and quickness.

Here are a few great tips to building and enhancing this important area of your game:

  • Top speed comes from maintaining acceleration. Use your inside edges to start off and create speed, then use your outside edges to maintain your stride. Practice moving between the two edges and feel the difference. Also swing your arms north and south to aid your momentum. At out hockey camp we see many players who slow themselves down by moving their upper body and arms east and west, this is a pretty simple correction that can have immediate impact.
  • The harder you dig into the ice, the faster you will propel yourself. Reaching top speed, and maintaining speed, requires full body coordination. This is where technique is very important, work on it and built a solid foundation for your stride and over time, you will become a fast skater.
  • Focus on powerful, long strides. This includes maintaining a 90-degree knee bend, and using your three skating joints: hip, knee and ankle. In order to extend your stride, you must work on your recovery, which means bringing your knee and skate under your shoulder, allowing you to maintain your balance and give you the ability to reach full extension with your stride.

An explosive start to your stride ultimately means more quickness. Building muscle, along with mastering the proper fundamentals, is important to increasing speed. Squats and plyometric training are two common exercises that athletes use in the weight room to build the muscles that help win the races. Take the time on the ice to work with coaches and instructors to refine the mechanics of your stride. Off of the ice, put in the time with a strength coach focusing on the leg muscles that will provide the horsepower for your stride.

Like all of the great skills needed to achieve your goals, developing speed comes down to who is willing to put in the time to work hard at it. If you take the time to create a fundamentally sound stride, and also develop strength, you will be well on your way to possessing game-changing speed!

We hope you are having a great season and look forward to working with you at one of our summer hockey camps in ten states next summer!