player tips

21

March

Rails

Last year here in Massachusetts Mother Nature delivered us more than 100 inches of snow.  It was a winter to remember with record-breaking snowfall that seemed to find its way into our lives on a daily basis. And just when we dug out from one storm, another was on the way, dumping a dozen more back-breaking inches of snow on top of the sidewalks and driveways that we just got done clearing.

This year we are right around 25 inches of total snowfall, or roughly a quarter of the snowfall of only a year ago. As I was discussing this with someone at the rink the other day, the conversation turned to the hockey season last year, and like the weather, what a difference a year can make.

At this same point last year the guy I was talking with was in the midst of buying every shovel and ice scraper he could get his hands on. He even went out and purchased a brand new snow blower, one of those machines with enough horsepower to throw even the heaviest snow clear across to the other county. This year most of his new equipment has sat unused in his garage.

Just like the weather, the hockey season and player performance can dramatically change from year to year. One season a player may score goals like Jaromir Jagr, but the next have a dip in performance and struggle to find the back of the net.

It’s important to recognize that this is somewhat normal, and that development is a marathon, not a sprint. What players need to focus on is making sure they are preparing themselves not only for the great games and seasons, but also for the times when they need to go back to basics. Like my friend who went out and purchased all of the equipment to be prepared for snow, players should have the tools necessary to be prepared for hockey.

Mastering the fundamentals of hockey is a key ingredient to long term success. There is a belief held by many experts about the ‘10,000 Hour Rule’, which essentially says that 10,000 hours of practice to become world class in a field.  If you are a serious hockey player you have probably heard about this, and are well on your way to finding the training and ice time that will help you master the skills necessary to take your game to the next level.

While it seems no one can accurately forecast the weather (sorry local weatherman), you can help forecast your hockey career. Whether it’s 100 inches of snow and 50 wins one season, or 25 inches and 12 wins the next, the big question is this: Are you going to be prepared?

We hope so, and have plenty of summer opportunities available for players of all ages and skill level. While we don’t have shovels and snow blowers to prepare you for next winter, we have coaches and trainers who know the game and are eager to teach. Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you this summer!

08

March

Rails

Watching Jaromir Jagr pass Gordie Howe for third on the all-time points list is nothing short of a historic moment in the NHL. 743 goals and 1,107 assists. That is simply amazing. When you watch Jagr’s highlight reel goals it becomes evident very quickly that he has great hands, incredible vision on the ice and can shoot and pass the puck with awesome accuracy.

So what can youth hockey players learn from a player like Jagr? There is plenty in his bag of tricks to borrow from, and here are a few of the best.

A Great Teammate. Jagr has played with 8 different teams during his NHL career. Along the way he has played with literally hundreds of players and when you ask them about Jagr, they all say the same thing; incredible talent and great teammate who makes everyone around him better. It’s one thing to have the skill and the will, it’s another thing to want to share it with everyone around you. Great players truly do make everyone around them better.

A Nose for the Net. An old coach used to preach all the time that it doesn’t matter how it goes in, only that it goes in. While Jagr has had plenty of highlight reel goals, he has also scored a lot by simply being in the right place at the right time to bang home a rebound or to redirect a shot. Get to the net and good things will happen!

Outstanding Anticipation.  Parents at hockey school ask me all the time about how to teach players to anticipate the game. The reality is that you can’t teach anticipation, but the best players know where to be on the ice to make things happen. The really good players don’t go to where the puck is, they go to where the puck will end up.

I know we said top 3, but this one is a bonus.

Stickhandling. Again, Jagr has had plenty of highlight reel goals during his career and it just never gets old watching the dangles and dekes. If there is one thing players can do this summer to really take their game to the next level it is stickhandling. Whether it’s a puck on the ice or a ball in the driveway, the hand-eye coordination that it takes to master the skill of stickhandling is a lifetime worth of work. As I tell my own son, you can never shoot enough pucks or stickhandle long enough if you really want to be the best.

Perhaps what is most amazing in all of this is that even with over 1,850 points, Jagr is still more than 1,000 points from catching Wayne Gretzky who is number one on the list with 2,857 career points. More on that in a future article!

Thanks for reading and we hope to see you at one of our camps this summer!

19

January

Succeed In Scoring More Goals

Posted by Greg Carter

Rails

As the season turns the corner and the standings start to tighten up, players and coaches know that the ticket to the tournament lies in scoring goals. Great defense is important, but you have to score to win the big prize. Here are a few tips to help you find the back of the net in your next game.

Pick a plate. If you ever watch skills competitions there are plates or bulls eyes in each corner that serve as targets for the all-stars to hit. When the pucks hits the plate they either fall off or break. It’s a fun way to show the impact and importance of picking a corner when shooting to score. Next time you are coming down the ice and have a chance to score, rather than firing right at the logo on the goaltenders sweater, think about picking a corner, and blowing up that plate!

Lateral movement. This is important at all levels of the game, but especially at the youth levels where if you can learn it young, you are bound to score a ton of goals. We see this a lot, especially on rebounds, where the puck will bounce from the goaltender right onto the stick of an attacking forward, but rather than moving right or left, the player shoots it right back into the goaltender. Practice moving the puck across your body to both the left and right and before too long it will become second nature to move laterally. And to score more goals!

Pass the puck. Great goal scorers know that they can’t do it alone. Passing the puck to teammates and then moving to open space for the return pass is one of the most effective ways to score goals. If the goalie only has one player to focus on they have a better chance of stopping the puck. Once you start involving other players and the goalie starts moving in their crease, space opens up and you will find more net to shoot at. Pass the puck and skate hard for the return pass or rebound.

Get to the net. This one seems obvious and easy, but the more youth hockey games I watch the more I realize that you can’t instruct players enough when it comes to getting to the net. Whether you are looking for a pass or a rebound, you need to be near the net…not on your way there or skating passed it below the goal line. In any given game there are going to be a lot of puck scrambles, rebounds and passes that happen in and around the crease, and the only way you are going to capitalize is if you skate hard and get there.

Good luck incorporating these tips into your game and have fun scoring your next big goal!

05

January

Rails

Here are 5 great skill-based resolutions for youth hockey players!

1. Finish every drill. As a coach, one of the great joys of running practices is in creating great drills that teach players to learn and improve. One of the great disappointments however is when players don’t skate hard through the entire drill. Finishing every drill is important for players as they develop. Whether you are skating lines, shooting pucks or working on edges, give 100% until the drill is complete and you will find yourself developing a new work ethic.

2. Dream. Players of all ages need to dream. Dream of making the team. Dream of scoring the big goal. Dream of winning the big game. Dream of moving on to the next level. Dream of playing in front of a big crowd. Dream of achieving your goals.
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney 

3. Be a great teammate. The great players that I skated with in college and beyond were also really good teammates. They not only had talent, but they knew how to inspire those around them to work as hard as they did. Everyone wants to be around great teammates as they encourage, promote unity and lead by example.

4. Evaluate & Practice. This one is very important, and it starts with an honest evaluation of your game. If you favor stopping one way over the other, start practicing stopping on your weak edge every time. If you are having a hard time keeping up with teammates, enroll in a summer power skating program and work specifically on skating. If your game needs an overall tune up, enroll in a skills camp where you can work on all aspects of your game. Identify your weaknesses and commit to practicing them.

5. Attitude. Everyone wants to get to the next level and succeed, and we all know that attitude determines altitude. This seems simple, but I guarantee it works! Bring a great attitude to the rink every day, appreciate the opportunity to play the greatest game on Earth and watch your game take off this year!

From our hockey family to yours, Happy New Year and best wishes for a successful 2016!

19

September

The Season Kick Off!

Posted by Greg Carter

Rails

With Labor Day and another summer in the rear view mirror, footballs are air born and preseason NHL games are starting to dot the TV schedule. This could only mean one thing; the youth hockey season is right around the corner.

As players gear up for the season, it’s important to take the time to reflect on what was accomplished during your summer hockey training, and your plans to use the development to be a huge contributor and leader on your team this season.

A good way for players to start this season, is to actually think back to last season.

What areas of your game needed work?
What were the goals that you set for the summer? 

Hopefully your summer training allowed you to refocus, work on new skills, get rid of any bad habits and position yourself for a great season.

The areas that you identified as needing work in your post season evaluation were hopefully the key areas of focus for you over the summer. Now is the time to apply everything that you learned, as well as show off those skills that you mastered. Maybe you needed to increase your speed, develop a better shot or improve your stick handling skills. Make sure you take what you learned and apply it to every practice, every game and every shift this season.

Hockey is a game that requires many skills, and putting forth the time and effort in the off season to work hard on your development is part of the equation, but what you do on the ice this season is the true test. Are you prepared to apply your development to your everyday hockey experience?

Everyone has heard the slogan that ‘practice makes perfect’ and this is especially true when it comes to using the tools that you learned over the summer to improvement your skills everyday this season.

Good luck with the start of  your season and we look forward to hearing about your next great hockey experience!