player tips

02

May

Finding Your Next Level

Posted by Greg Carter

Watching the NHL Playoffs, it becomes obvious very quickly that the players are competing at an entirely different level out there compared to the regular season. The speed and quickness of the game is greater. The intensity is higher. It makes you wonder, how do these players take an already accelerated game to a whole new level?

There is a quote about leadership and coaching that says if you can raise the level of effort and performance in those around you, you are officially a leader. When it comes to coaching hockey players, especially elite hockey players such as those playing in the NHL, finding a way to connect with each player and understanding how to get the most out of them is a key ingredient in the recipe for success.

But when it comes to finding that next level it begins and ends with the individual player. The great Vince Lombardi once said that if you’ll not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your lives. When you watch playoff hockey, these players are not settling for anything less than their best. They lay it on the line for every race to the puck. Every shot on goal and every pass is a laser. The battles in front of the net and in the corners are their own individual cage matches.

When you break down the game and analyze how amazing the individual talent and skill sets are out there, it can be compared to an engine in a machine. If the engine is built properly – in the case of hockey players, developed and trained properly – and also cared for properly, there will be a time when you can run that engine at the highest RPM’s and push it to maximum performance.

Youth hockey players who spend the time training and working on skills are doing just that, they are preparing themselves – their engine – for the periods of time (the playoffs) when they are going to need to rely on optimizing their performance at the highest level.

As the run for the Stanley Cup continues, it should serve as inspiration to take your own game to the next level, to shift your engine into the next gear. There is another great quote about commitment that says you’re either IN or you’re OUT. There is no such thing as life in-between.

We invite you to join us at one of our hockey schools this summer and with our training, find your very own next level!

 

 

 

 

 

13

June

Are You A Big Time Player?

Posted by Greg Carter
big-time-player-blog

Big game players combine their talent and drive to be game changers.

The Stanley Cup Finals is a great time of year. As Wayne Gretzky summed it up in a recent interview “You know that you are in a special place when you look at the out of town scoreboard and there are no games being played.”

Other than the one you are in of course, which at this time of year means only one thing, the Stanley Cup!

There is no bigger stage in hockey than the Stanley Cup, when everything is on the line during an awesome seven game series. It’s the culmination of the season and the playoffs, and the game is being played at an entirely different level. The excitement and adrenaline is at its peak.

So what are some of the key factors in managing all of the stress, excitement and emotions and stepping up and being a big time player in a big time situation?  Here are some common traits of big time players that I’ve seen over the years.

•    As the games and the stakes rise, so too does the play of big game players.  Big game players have the innate ability to keep bringing the energy and leadership that it takes to get the job done. In clutch situations these are the players that are ready and prepared to make it happen. And often times do make it happen.

•    Big game players are those that WANT to be in the ice in overtime and in key situations. They want the puck on their stick, they want to be out there playing great defense to create an offensive opportunity. Big time players have the talent, confidence and determination to make it happen. They are only thinking one thing, not IF we are going to win, but HOW we are going to win. And they want to be out there for every shift to make it happen.

•    As the old cliché goes, “Hard work only comes before success in the dictionary.” Big game players know this, and understand that in order to be successful in that one defining moment, they have to train hard to get there. They shoot pucks. They lift weights. They practice and train with a purpose and with one goal in mind: converting the opportunity that they get to win the big prize. They know that they may only get one chance, and in that moment they know it’s their time to shine.

All players dream of being in the championship games at all levels. And as you watch the Stanley Cup and realize what it means to the best hockey players in the world to be playing for the top prize, you quickly understand that it takes a special player to rise to the occasion and be a big game player.

We hope the Stanley Cup Finals inspired you to train hard this summer, and that you are successful in your very own big games!

15

May

Secrets to Game 7 Success

Posted by Greg Carter

Rails

There have been some awesome games in the NHL Playoffs. And nothing is bigger than a Game 7, when everything is on the line. One team goes home to get the golf clubs out of the basement, and the other advances one step closer to hockey’s biggest prize.

So what does it really take to win that decisive Game 7? What separates the winners? Sometimes it takes a combination of puck luck, momentum and of course hard work, but in all my years around the game both as a player and training hockey players, I’ve come to see some similarities among players who more times than not find themselves on the winning side of the scoreboard.

It’s important to understand that these are not just player traits that appear on the eve of a Game 7, instead they are engrained in a player from the time they learn to love the game and compete. Thinking back to the great players that I’ve played with and coached, they always seemed to bump up their game and take it to another level when the stakes got higher. The good players got great, and their ability to keep bringing the magic that it takes to win was even more evident in the biggest games.

These are the players, and I see them today at the youth level, that get off the ice after a shift and are so ‘wired’ that they can’t sit still on the bench to rest, they have to lean against the boards and watch every minute, every second of the game. They can’t wait to get back onto the ice for their chance to score the deciding goal.

Not all players are like this. Some players don’t have that killer instinct as they fear giving up the big goal more than they do putting it all on the line to be the hero.

So what are some secrets, both as a player and a team, to winning a Game 7?

  • Ability to play with a ‘win at all cost’ mentality. This means doing everything possible, every shift to make sure you are always in the best position to have an impact.
  • High Risk / High Reward. Great players are not afraid to take chances to score the big goal. They have the confidence in themselves that given the chance, they will beat the odds and score the goal.
  • Confidence. It may sounds simple, but confidence goes a long way in winning. When a team hits the ice with confidence, you notice. And when you execute on your confidence and get the job done, oftentimes you win the game!
  • Hard work. Nothing compares to hard work. So often one team may look flat, while the other is buzzing around like gnat. Is one team really flat, or is the other just out working and out skating them?
  • Rely on what got you there. And this is the key, that to win the Game 7 you have to recognize that all the long hours of dedication, practice and persistence all plays out in dramatic fashion. Sure, all the players have put in the time, but the best of the best are the ones who do just that little bit more.

Enjoy the rest of the NHL Playoffs and good luck scoring the big one in your next big game!

 

Rails

The excitement for the NHL Playoffs may be greater than ever. Regardless of whether your favorite team is in the hunt for the Stanley Cup, watching the best hockey players in the world compete at the highest level for the top prize in the game really is must watch TV.

From the intensity and speed to the awesome goals, amazing passes and phenomenal dekes, if you are a fan of hockey you are probably glued to the TV. For youth players it is a time when they can really sit and learn from the best of the best.  Cheering for your favorite team is always exciting, but for true students of the game who want to learn a new move, how to back check hard and pick up the weak side wing and everything in between, the NHL Playoffs are a great learning opportunity.

Not only can players watch intently on the individual and team play, but the NHL Playoffs should also serve as inspiration to take your own game to the next level. Watching a great wrist shot beat a goalie top shelf should inspire you to shoot more pucks. Watching a player dance around a defenseman into the open ice should provide the motivation to practice stickhandling even more. Watching the ‘give it all’ attitude of every  player on the ice should encourage you to train throughout the summer, stay in shape and hit the ice in the fall ready to go.

Most great players have that ‘ah-hah’ moment where they realize that to get to the top of the game they need to train hard to get there. Watching the best players in the world and picking out a few moves from a favorite player and then trying over and over to master the skill is a great opportunity to help your overall hockey skills.

Great players have all grown up watching their idols inspire them, and then headed out to the driveway or down to the basement to reenact the big play.

During the next NHL game keep an eye out for what you can learn and apply to your own game. Not only is watching NHL Playoffs awesome from a fan perspective, but it can really be the inspiration to help take your game to the next level.