player tips

Greg Carter's European Hockey Camp

The 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships just wrapped up in Vancouver, Canada. This tournament features the best hockey players under the age of 20. The action is intense, the speed is incredible, the passing is crisp and the overall talent out of this world!

So you might ask yourself, how do players take their game to the next level, and along with their team, rise to the occasion and take home a championship? How in ‘The Wolrd’s’ do they do it?

As witnessed at ‘The World’s’ in this tournament, here are the common characteristics of how players and teams win championships:

Bonding for a Common Goal: Teams are only as good as the players, and therefore the players need to all ‘buy-in’ to the process and systems to achieve the common goal of winning. Teams that are unable to bond and are instead comprised of a bunch of individuals skating for their own stats and recognition will most often not come out on top. To win, everyone needs to be a great teammate and always put the team first!

Selflessness: It’s always team first, ‘we’ over ‘me’. Individual stats and accomplishments come second. Fans saw this during the World Juniors when the Player of the Game was announced. It was evident in the humble reception of the individual award versus the overwhelming emotion to the team winning the game. Selfish players rarely win championships.

Talent & Teamwork: Talent wins hockey games, teamwork wins championships. This one is pretty obvious and can be seen at the local rink every week during every game. When a player has the opportunity to take a low percentage shot versus making a pass to a teammate for a better opportunity, what is the decision? As we have discussed in previous articles, it’s more important ‘that we do’ than ‘who’.

Winning Attitude: A great coach once said that ‘you have to believe you are a champion before you ever will be a champion’. While there is a ton of training, talent and hard work that factors into being a champion, a positive mindset and winning attitude definitely go a long way. Successful teams that I have played on have always believed that ‘we will win’ right up until the final buzzer. Do you believe?

From start to finish the World Junior hockey tournament was awesome. Although the U.S. Team came up a goal short and finished with the silver medal, it was must watch hockey TV. If you missed it, make sure to add it to your holiday calendar this year!

Thanks for reading and as always, we invite you to join us at one of our summer hockey camps in ten states this summer. 2019 is our 25th year of hockey camps and we are excited to celebrate it with you!

Click here for more information or to register!

 

 

 

 

 

 

16

October

Greg Carter's European 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!

16

November

Greg Carter Hockey Camp

One of my former coaches used to say that if you stay in the moment, good things can happen. I’ve always believed and preached this coaching games when my team is both leading as well as behind, but especially when we are behind by several goals. I was reminded of this former coach after watching an absolutely incredible finish to a recent high school football that made national news.

The game was between two teams from Minnesota. With one minute left in this quarterfinal state tournament game, Maple Grove High School was down by 19 points.

Game over, right?

As fans were heading for the exits, Maple Grove scored a touchdown to make it 27-16 with 59 seconds left in the game. Failed onside kick, and game over, right?

Maple Grove recovered the onside kick and had the ball at mid-field. Ok, interesting, but they still need to score a touchdown, and even if they do, they are still down by five points, and will be kicking off with little or not time remaining. A quick pass led to another touchdown, and suddenly the score was 27-22 with 46 seconds left.

Ok, at this point, it’s been a great story, but there’s no way a football team can successfully execute another onside kick, right? And even if they miraculously did, they would still need another touchdown.

Incredibly, this team recovered another onside kick, and once again had the ball around mid-field. A few pass plays got them down near the goal line, and the next play they ran in their third touchdown in a minute. Pandemonium ensued, and I’m sure sometime later that night the reality of what they had accomplished set in.

In our last blog we talked talked about the awesome baseball we saw during the World Series this year, and about the importance of believing in your own game. We asked the question about when the game is on the line, do you believe and dig down, and think of all of your time, energy and training, and confidently know that you can win.

This football game brought up another important aspect of this, which is not just believing that you have the talent to win, but also and just as importantly, staying in the moment and doing your job.

It would have been very easy for the kicker of this high school football team, down by two touchdowns and thinking the game is over, to not concentrate on the first onside kick. Instead, he executed it flawlessly, as if that kick was going to win the game. He stayed in the moment!

It would have been equally easy for the quarterback to then take the field, still knowing a comeback was nearly impossible, and to lose focus on the plays and passes.

These players stayed in the moment, and even after converting one successful onside kick into a touchdown, did it again, this time to finish a comeback like football fans had never witnessed, and may very well never see again!

Whether you are on the winning side of a game, or the losing side, this wild finish is a great reminder to never lose focus, and regardless of the score, to play hard and do your job until the final second ticks off the clock.

Great coaches leave lasting impressions, and that old coach of mine always taught me to stay in the moment, and I’ve got a feeling both of the teams that participated in this wild game will never forget that same lesson!

We hope you are off to a great start to your season. All of our 2018 summer school dates and locations will be finalized soon. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday with family and friends and remember, if you stay in the moment, good things can happen!

31

October

What’s In Your Game?

Posted by Greg Carter
Greg Carter's European 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?

14

February

It’s The Little Things That Matter

Posted by Greg Carter

Hockey SchoolAs I watched the winning team celebrate a championship at a recent weekend tournament, a parent turned and asked “How in the world did that team win?” My response? By doing the little things.

In every game there are so many things that can go right for a team, as well as go very wrong. When it comes to winning games, especially at this time of year, coaches will tell players to stay out of the box, work hard, play with passion and to give it their all. And within all of these pieces of advice are details that often determine the outcome of a game. And it’s these little details, that when added together, that often play a large role in the final score.

So what are the little things that matter so much? I used to have a coach that said hockey is a game of ten-foot races. Races to the puck. Races to the net. Races to an open area. Quickness is an important aspect of the game and this type of effort is nothing more than will over skill. Teams in the biggest games that win the races are often times the team that also come out ahead on the scoreboard. It’s amazing how many times you see one team start winning the races, and then the other starts to stand around, and once that happens to the other team, good things start happening for your team!

Getting the puck out of the zone or into the zone. Blue line play is so important, yet often overlooked in the flow of the game. During this championship game that I was watching, the winning team won nearly every battle of the blue lines. When they were killing penalties and in a defensive zone scrum along the sideboards, they found a way to get the puck out of the zone, thus killing more time on the penalty. On the other end of the ice, when they needed to get the puck into the zone to get a change, they didn’t simply get it into the zone ten feet across the blue line, they shot it in deep, and made the other team retrieve it, and start back up the ice. Making a team go 185 feet for a goal can make a big difference, no different than field position in football!

Face-offs. As youth hockey players get older face-offs become super important. While the center hopes to win the face-off, the coverage of players by wings is equally important. I watched a face-off in this championship game where the team won an offensive zone face-off and drew the puck back to the top of the circle, but it was picked off by an opposing wing that skated right out through two players that didn’t tie up. The result? A goal on the other end of the ice!

Another great coach once told me that you have to believe you are going to be good before you ever will be good. And while this may seem like a trivial thing, believing leads to confidence, and confidence leads to momentum. Again during this championship game one team not only looked like they wanted it more, but it looked like they believed more!

Good luck in your own playoffs this year and remember, it’s the little things that matter!

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