player tips

Training

I was recently watching a TV feature on an NHL player who invited the viewing audience on a tour of his childhood home. We met his mom and dad, his siblings, his dog, got a tour of the house and hung out with some of his friends. What was really cool was getting to see where and how he spent most of his time growing up, which included his basement where he shot pucks, in his backyard on the family ice rink and even playing tennis, basketball and just about any competitive sport.

As the game of hockey has evolved into a national sport with great players coming from every corner of the U.S., it should come as no surprise to aspiring players that if you want to maximize your potential, it’s really what you to away from the rink that will determine how far you make it as a hockey player.

When players leave practice at the rink, they all have the same decision to make after they get their homework done. As an old coach used to say, ‘we all have the same number of hours in a day, it’s up to you how you spend them’. So players have a decision to make, will they watch TV, play video games, sit on their phone, or work on hockey skills and hockey development?

During one point of the TV feature the father of the NHL player was standing in their unfinished basement which served as their shooting room. The father was standing in front of a wall that, at one point before the color of vulcanized rubber took over, was probably the color of fresh wood and perhaps even the name of the shooting tarp was visible. The puck marks on shooting area of the concrete floor looked like the track at the Daytona 500.

“I can’t tell you how many thousands, and thousands of pucks have been shot down here,” said the father. Later in the show, talking about their backyard rink, it was again stated that the time, memories and frozen toes were too numerous to try to begin to quantify.

Meeting this NHL player via the TV show made me think back to some of my own experiences, and of those around me who were fortunate enough to play in college or even the NHL. They were the first ones on the rink and the last ones to leave. And they were also the players that had a net in their backyard and dozens of sticks in a barrel in their garage with the blades worn down to nothing. These worn out blades and banged up nets were a badge of honor for these players, and a testament to their dedication to the game. You could tell exactly how bad a kid wanted it by the condition of his training area.

And years later, after watching this segment on today’s NHL players, the same is true. So the question is, how bad to you want it? Are you willing to put in what it takes away from the rink?

After all, everyone has the the same number of hours in a day.

17

January

Tough Season? No Problem!

Posted by Greg Carter

Mid-season can be a challenging time of year for players, coaches and parents. It’s that in between time when the hype and anticipation of the new season has worn off, and although the playoffs are on the horizon, the next few weeks can be a bit of a grind. This can be especially true for players who just aren’t quite having the season they expected.

We have written about the importance of setting goals at the start of the season, and that development is a marathon, not a sprint. This is the time of year to remind yourself of these goals and that this is one season and one moment in time when regardless of how good, bad or average things are going, there is a ton of opportunity down the road, be it the next game, tournament or season!

Many coaches take the opportunity at this juncture to provide mid-season evaluations that should give players some specific examples of successes, as well as areas that need improvement. This feedback should be the motivation for players to refocus and get energized for the homestretch of the season and beyond.

Every team needs positive players who work hard and bring energy to practices and games. As the old saying goes, there is no substitute for hard work, and the best way to get the results that you want is exactly that, working as hard as you possibly can during each and every practice.

Changing the way things are going on the ice can also start with changing habits off of the ice. For example, if you aren’t scoring as many goals as you anticipated, try shooting pucks for 30 minutes prior to going to the rink. If you don’t feel like you have the energy or quickness you need during the game, try changing your warm up routine and pay attention to the types of food and drink you are consuming prior to the game.

Finally, I like to tell the story of a very successful coach who addressed our team prior to a big game by saying “In order to be good, you first have to believe that you are good.” While that is a relatively simple statement, it’s extremely meaningful in that players who enter games and practices with a positive mindset are well positioned to achieve the success they anticipate.

So as you start to enter the final stretch of your season, bring a great ‘can-do’ attitude with an excellent work ethic and you will help your team skate home with the hardware!

Each summer we work with hockey players from across Massachusetts as well as the entire country. Our staff is asked many questions about hockey development by both players and parents, and here are the most frequently asked questions.

What does my child need to do to get better?
Every parents wants the best for their child, especially hockey parents for their hockey players! The first thing to recognize is that development is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. For players to get better they need to commit to a long term development strategy geared towards working on specialized skill sets at each level from Mites on up. If a player masters each of these age-specific skills, they will have a great foundation to build on throughout their career.

Should my child play a variety of positions or just forward or just defense?
This is an interesting question because of how often it gets brought up. At young ages kids need to develop a full understanding of the game of hockey including skills, strategies and tactics at both forward and defense. Many great defensemen playing at the collegiate and professional levels attribute their ability to ‘see the ice’, step up into the play and contribute offensively to having played forward as a youth or even a prep player.

How can I score more goals?
Every player wants to score goals, and there is one surefire way to find the back of the net more often: shoot pucks. A great coach once told me that you can never shoot enough pucks, and he was right. Another way to score more goals is to become a great stickhandler. Spend time at practice, home and hockey camp working on stickhandling and it will pay off on the score sheet!

What can I do to improve my skating, speed and quickness?
We love this question at our hockey school because skating and stride is too often overlooked by hockey players. Even the smoothest, fastest and quickest skaters are continually working to improve in this area because they understand the importance of speed, quickness and stride in the game of hockey. To improve your skating focus on things like edge work and technique. We like to really focus on these two areas at our hockey camps and the results can be extremely positive.

What do I need to do to make the team next year?
This is always the biggest question as we work with players prior to tryouts. Regardless of what level you are playing at or team you want to make, there is no substitute for commitment and hard work. Create a list of skills that you need to work on and spend time on and off the ice mastering these skills. Shoot pucks and stickhandle rather than watching TV or sitting on your phone. Hockey is becoming more competitive every day and the players who make the team are the ones who put in the time and dedicate themselves to learning new skills and getting better everyday!

Do you have a question about your hockey development or summer hockey camp? Email us and we would be happy to answer your questions!

We have hockey camps in ten states this summer including Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia. We hope to see you on the ice soon!