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!

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The Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks game last Sunday was awesome on many levels. Playing hockey in the great outdoors is not only fun and entertaining because of the unique setting and outdoor atmosphere, but also because of the action on the ice and the lessons that can be learned. It just seems as though when these multi-million dollar athletes get the opportunity to play in one of these events there are more smiles, more energy and more ‘game’.

After watching all of the action, here are some of the key takeaways that can make youth hockey players better at their own game.

Creativity Reigns. Great players are creative, they know how to create space, buy time and make moves that keep the opposition guessing. For those fortunate to have the opportunity to skate outdoors in the colder climates, ‘rink-ratting’ down at the local park is something that every goal scorer looks back on with fond memories. Great moves are born in the great outdoors, where creativity reigns.

Energy & Excitement. This time of the season is a grind for players as they head into the stretch drive and playoffs. Good coaches find a way to keep the energy and excitement at a high level in players, and Sunday it was evident that playing outdoors had both teams bringing it to a level that both fans and coaches could be proud of. Youth players around the country were surly chomping at the bit to get an outside game of their own going in the driveway or local park; and for good reason.

Fun & Phenomenal. Playing hockey should be fun, and when players are passionate about what they are doing and having fun doing it, success will follow. Anytime a player starts to get down, I always remind them that it’s just a game and that they should be enjoying every practice and every game, every single day! It was clear Sunday the players were having a fun and phenomenal time.

Greatest Game on Earth. One of the NHL’s taglines is that hockey is the Greatest Game on Earth. Watching the Stadium Series games being played outdoors in the elements is only confirmation of this, and that hockey really is the best sport. Watching some of the best players in the world compete outdoors and talk about it like they were back in Peewees or Bantams was extremely refreshing.

Good luck in your push to the playoffs and remember to bring the excitement and energy that you saw in the Stadium Series this past weekend! And if you do, success will follow!

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!

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