player tips

16

October

Hockey Camp

I like asking kids at our summer hockey camp what position they want to play in the upcoming season. Most often we hear center, and then right after that they bellow out ‘first line center!’ A team obviously can’t have nine first line centers, so what can you do as a player if you don’t find yourself as a first liner?

Skill development is a marathon, not a sprint. Players that were leaders on a team one season can be ‘caught’ by other players as they age, grow and mature. I’ve seen first line players one year become third line players the next and have also seen plenty of players who started the season on the third line work their way to a spot on the power play, penalty kill or first line.

How? It all starts with a desire and willingness to show up and work hard. Not once in a while, but every day at every practice! An old coach used to say that ‘the one thing we are going to do each and every day is get better, and if we do that, we’ll be a team full of really good, hard working hockey players at the end of the year.’

And for those players that did show up, work hard and get better every single day, things can change quickly, and a third line spot can change to second and first in the matter of weeks. Another key to success is being a smart player and making good hockey decisions. This is even more true at the Peewee and Bantam levels where coaches start to integrate systems and players who understand and can execute their roles and responsibilities become the trusted players that coaches can count on in special team situations.

If you have found yourself in a situation this season where you are on a line that you don’t like or aren’t part of the power play or penalty kill, embrace the challenge and turn up your effort even more. Continue to focus on specific skills and bring a great attitude each and every day.

An opportunity will present itself at some point this season and when the moment arrives and the coach calls your number, take advantage of the break and don’t look back!

The great college basketball coach Roy Williams was quoted as saying “I can live with just about anything, but not a lack of effort. If you want to play in the game, you must give me 100%.”

This is even more true if you want to play on the first line or power play. Work harder than everyone else and don’t give the coach any reason not to play you!

Thanks for reading, good luck this season and we look forward to seeing you at the rink soon!

03

October

Summer Hockey Camp’s Best Reward 

Posted by Greg Carter
Greg Carter's Hockey School

As we hit the ice full speed for the season, I was recently reminded of one of the best rewards from our summer hockey camp, and it’s not at all what I would have imagined, or you might think!

Having played hockey for nearly my entire life – youth, collegiately and in the ECHL – and more recently running our hockey camp for the past two decades, I have met virtually every ‘category’ of player. There are the players who have all of the talent in the world, but never figure out how to dedicate themselves and put it to good use, resulting in shortened careers. There are the players who have all the will in the world, but at a point in time run out of the skill needed to make it to the next level. And of course a million other ‘categories’ of players including those who just want to have fun, meet friends and enjoy the camaraderie and teamwork.

But every so often you meet a player who is as good of a person off of the ice as they are a hockey player on the ice. Nothing is more refreshing than a player who can go out and score a hat trick, lead the team in points all season and is at the same time respectful to coaches and officials, a great student and maybe even volunteering to help others in the community. What is even more refreshing, and rewarding, is when as a coach and instructor, you have had the opportunity to watch this player grow throughout their career knowing you have had a hand in helping shape such a well-rounded individual, both on and off of the ice.

This past summer I had the pleasure of welcoming back a couple of players who grew up participating in our programs and our summer hockey camps. Both will be playing Division I hockey this year for a storied program that ‘wins’ as much in the classroom as they do on the ice. One will be a captain as an underclassman after leading his team in goals last year. These two players skated with our youth players and it turned out to be one of the most memorable and rewarding weeks of the summer.

When they arrived everyone knew who they were and that they were great hockey players. They didn’t have to say please and thank you to everyone they met, but they did. They didn’t have to interact, smile, laugh and try to help every player on the ice, but they did. They didn’t have to pull a struggling skater aside for extra edge work, but they did. They didn’t have to tell stories to every kid that asked about playing college hockey, but they did, because not too long ago it was them looking up to someone, asking those same questions!

Character is critical in hockey, and I was reminded of this watching these two at camp this past summer. We’ve said in past articles that “talent gets you noticed, but character gets recruited.” It was extremely rewarding – and inspiring – as I watched these two at camp to know that yes, they became great hockey players, but even more importantly, they became incredible young adults.

As you go through this season and strive to win every puck battle, every shift, every period and every game, keep in mind that the very best players, especially in the game of hockey, are also great off of the ice. Respect your coaches, teammates, officials, parents and teaches, and most of all, respect the great game of hockey. I can tell you that after spending more than four decades in hockey that if you do this, you will be remembered, and rewarded, for the rest of your life!

Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you at the rink soon!

 

02

January

Hockey Camp

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!

31

October

What’s In Your Game?

Posted by Greg Carter
Hockey Camp

It’s been great to have the NHL back in action on tv, but it was really tricky trying to watch hockey recently when there was such an incredible World Series taking place. While there is little doubt that hockey is way more entertaining than a baseball game, the drama unfolding in this championship series was absolutely epic and made me think about some of my hockey experiences.

Game 5 in particular kept many of us up until the game-winning run was scored in the wee hours of the morning; actually 1:37 a.m. on the East Coast where our hockey school is headquartered! How could anyone fall asleep during a game where three-run deficits were overcome three times? In hockey they say that a two goal lead is the hardest to keep, well in baseball this was just the second time in postseason history that a game featured three separate comebacks by teams down by three runs.

The Dodgers led 4-0 early, and were tied at 4 on a three-run homer by Yuli Gurriel. Then the Dodgers went back ahead, 7-4, on a three-run homer by Cody Bellinger. Houston proceeded to tie the game 7-7 on a three-run homer by Jose Altuve. Then the unthinkable happened when Houston coughed up a 12-9 lead in the ninth to force extra innings!

The Astros went on to a 13-12 victory in this five-hour, 17-minute thriller when Alex Bregman singled in Derek Fisher in the bottom of the 10th inning. Al Michaels’ had the famous line in the 1980 Olympics ‘Do you believe in Miracles’. But during this game, we might just ask, do you believe?

And in your own games, when the game is on the line, do you believe? Do you dig down, think of all the time, energy and training, and confidently know that you can do this? When you are behind by a goal, or two or three, do you start to lose confidence, or do you look around at your teammates and instill the energy and poise needed to mount a comeback.

As a coach when we are behind in games, I’ve seen players look at their opposition and question if they’re outnumbered and too good, or maybe start to think that their goalie can’t be beat. Watching game 5, the Astros were facing Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ ace who was having the best postseason of his life. In fact in 61 regular-season games when Kershaw had six or more runs of support, he won 59 of them. But when it mattered most, Houston found a way to succeed.

A great coach once told me ‘you have to believe that your are good, before you will ever be good.’

When it’s the clutch moment, and the game is on the line, will you be ready? Will you believe that all of your training and preparation has put you and your teammates in a position to win? Will you believe that you can mount the comeback?

The Houston Astros did. The LA Dodgers did.

What’s in your game? Will you believe?

13

June

There can always be an excuse for why something can’t or didn’t get done. It’s too early, too cold, too late or too difficult. But people who set goals and really want to achieve something don’t make excuses. They simply find a way to get it done and make it happen, regardless of the obstacles.

Stairs

I was chatting recently with a rink manager about an NHL player. This arena manager described the player as ‘one of those kids who came to the rink to run stairs‘. He would show up at the rink unannounced, ask permission to run the stairs, and there in the dark – the only one in the entire building – he would start his workout.

Eventually the arena manager started turning on the lights for this athlete and over time developed a friendship.  Sometimes friends would show up to run stairs with him, but eventually they would drop off and within a week or two, it was back to this one player running stairs, alone.

One day the arena manager asked the athlete what happened to his buddies. They had work. They went to the beach. They went fishing. They went to a movie. They were tired . . . The excuses were endless.

However for this one player who set a goal, who wanted to make the most out of his hockey career and play at the highest level he possibly could, there was no stopping him. This was his priority and he wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of it. There were no excuses, ever, for why he couldn’t find time in his daily routine to workout and best prepare himself to reach his goal.

There is a quote that says, “If it’s important enough, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.”

So this summer ask yourself, are you finding a way, or are you finding an excuse?