player tips

Hockey Camp

“Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”

–Wayne Gretzky

For their gift this holiday season, kids aren’t going to the North Pole or flying a drone to intercept Santa’s Sleigh, instead they are headed to where the presents are going, under the tree! In the same way, players need to head to where the puck is going!

Watching kids play hockey, especially at the younger ages, it’s interesting and entertaining how they swarm around the puck and as a group, chase and follow it like it’s the town mayor handing out candy at the 4th of July parade. While coaches continually stress the importance of spreading out and playing position, it’s almost as if the puck is a magnetic force they are attracted to like, say, their cell phone or video game!

The ability to read the play in hockey is an extremely important skill as players progress through their development, and the best way to understand how to read and react is through experience. The time spent around the rink playing, practicing and even watching hockey on TV will help provide this experience.

The importance of understanding position play and the flow of the game looks natural to some players, but that intuition and ability to pick out tendencies is a learned behavior. I love driving by parks, ponds and driveways where kids are playing hockey in unstructured environments. Not only are they developing creativity and fundamental skills, but they are also mentally building an understanding of the natural flow of the game so that when it comes go game time, their instincts can take over.

Watching the best players at the top levels of the game, it’s not a coincidence that certain players always find themselves with time and space, and often, in breakaway situations. These players read, react, anticipate the play and as the Great One said, go not to where the puck is, but to where the puck is going.

We hope this holiday season that your player not only heads to where their gift is going, but learns over the course of the hockey season to go where the puck is going. Thanks for reading and we invite you to celebrate our 25th year of hockey camps in 2019! Dates, locations and registration information is now posted for our Greg Carter Hockey Schools located in 10 states across the U.S.!

 

 

 

 

27

November

3 Goal Scoring Gaffe’s To Avoid

Posted by Greg Carter
Greg Carter

Having coached and watched many games this season, I’ve been reminded of how important it is to know what to do with the puck in goal scoring situations and, just as importantly, what not to do! For a select few players scoring seemingly comes at ease as they light the lamp with the demeanor of a natural goal scorer. However for the great majority of players, it’s not quite as easy and mistakes are made, opportunities are lost and starts to slide.

The good news is that there are a few common mistakes to avoid and with some practice, ordinary goal scorers have the opportunity to become extraordinary goal scorers!

Here Are 3 Goal Scoring Gaffe’s To Avoid:

Down low, shoot high. When you have the puck on your stick down low around the goal, the opposing goaltender most likely is going to be ‘down’ as well, meaning your best chance to score will be up high. Players often make the mistake of just shooting the puck anywhere at the net, oftentimes right into the pads or jersey of the goalie. Instead, players should be recognizing that with the current trend in goaltender style of play, when the puck is down low, the goalie will most likely be down as well, so they instinctively know the best chance to score will high, up and over the goalie with a bottle-knocker!

In the slot, take the shot. It’s not often that a player finds themselves all alone in the slot with the puck on their stick, but when they do it’s never a bad idea to fire a great shot on net! For as many bad angle shots that are taken during a game, it’s always interesting to see how many times a wide open shot in the slot is not taken, instead trying to make one more perfect pass. While everyone enjoys an awesome tic-tac-toe goal and a selfless teammate, dangerous goal scorers know how to bury the puck when they are left alone in the slot.

Paralysis by analysis. The best goal scorers have excellent instincts and without hesitation know what to do with the puck. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for the perfect shot or perfect pass because good opponents will be there to pick your pocket and before you know it, the puck is on their stick heading in the opposite direction. Practice is the best way to gain the repetition needed to be comfortable and confident with the puck on your stick in a goal scoring situation. And most importantly, make a decision on how you are going to score, and then bury the biscuit!

Thank you for reading and from our hockey family to yours, Happy Holidays! 🎄  Our 2019 Summer Hockey School dates and locations are being updated so be sure to claim your spot early!

13

November

Hockey Camp

Is there any question that one of the most – if not the most – exciting moments of a game is a breakaway, or in the case of a tied game, a shootout. Throw in a penalty shot and you have a hat trick of thrilling plays! However when the moment pops up, and you find yourself picking up a loose puck and racing in alone, full speed towards the opposing goalie and a split second decision needs to be made, do you know whether you are going to shoot or deke?

Here Are 5 Keys To Scoring On A Breakaway, Shootout & Penalty Shot!

Keep The Goalie Guessing. Goalies try to ‘read’ players because if they know what a player is going to do, it’s much easier to stop the puck. So as a player, part of the strategy must include keeping the goalie guessing. This can be done by stickhandling the puck side to side, keeping your feet moving (more on this in a minute) changing speeds and other movements that will get the goalie moving laterally. Goalies love players who basically skate a straight line towards them and then stop moving their feet at the face-off dots, which usually means a shot is coming straight at them from an easy angle.

Keep Your Feet Moving. Whether you are going to deke or shoot, it’s important that players keep their feet moving to keep the goalie guessing. With your feet moving you can more easily change direction and speed which will get the goaltender moving laterally, which is always a good thing to free up more net. As soon as you stop moving your feet all of your momentum is slowed and options become limited. Keep your feet, and your options moving!

Keep Your Head Up. Players need to read what the goalie is doing and the only way to do so is with your head up. If a goalie comes out beyond the crease to challenge, it’s probably a better option to try and deke. If however, the goalie remains deeper in the crease, there likely will be plenty of net to shoot at. Keep your head up, pick a spot, make a decision and score the goal!

Change Your Release. Great goal scorers know that a big secret to scoring is changing the direction and timing of your release. Sometimes goalies can be surprised by a quick release that catches them off guard thinking a player is going to deke during a stickhandling move, but instead of sliding the puck forehand to backhand rips off a quick snap shot. Also, changing the direction of release can keep the goalie guessing, which is a key part of scoring success!

Practice Your Dekes & Dangles! When you see the best players score on incredible moves or super shots, they have all been practiced countless times. If you want to be a serious scorer, a great time to practice shootouts and breakaways is before or right at the end of practices. One great shootout player used to buy the goalie a Gatorade after every practice in return for getting on the ice early or staying a little late to help the player work on his breakaways. Turns out this player scored nearly every time!

Like anything in hockey and life, if you want to be good at it you need to practice, if you want to be great at it you need to practice even more! We hope you are having a great season and wish you and your family a great Thanksgiving holiday! We will be releasing our Summer Hockey School schedule in the coming weeks and we look forward to seeing you at the rink soon!

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!

11

September

Greg Carter Hockey Camp

Each and every summer our great staff of coaches spend countless hours instructing youth hockey players from across the country. We pride ourselves on building on each days’ skills and challenge players to reach their full potential as the hockey camp progresses. We see players from border to border and coast to coast, all with a desire to work hard and get better. While each player is unique in their pursuit of greatness, we’ve seen a consistent trend with players in terms of strengths, weaknesses and some of the intangibles that help define good versus great players.

Here are some of top takeaways from our hockey camps in 10 states over the summer of 2018:

Fundamentals. Skating, stick handling and shooting. Players need to work hard on these fundamental skills to build confidence. Think of fundamental hockey skills as the bricks of the foundation of a home. If the foundation and bricks are not sturdy, everything built on top of it will be weak. The same holds true for hockey skills, master the fundamentals and you are well on your way!

Determination and Desire. Coaches love hockey players who listen, and especially those players that listen and have the determination and desire to step outside of their comfort zone. Summer hockey camps provide an excellent opportunity for players to receive great advice and instruction, but only if they are focused, engaged and ready to apply what they learn. Have the desire to use coaching and teaching moments to improve your game.  Have the determination to work hard to do it the right way, rather than going back to the comfort zone of doing it the way you always have!

Accept Constructive Criticism. Coaching and instructing has changed over the years, especially the past few years. Good communication is key to making sure players understand what they need to do to get better. Sometimes players hear things that they may not want to, but in order to get better they need to understand exactly what their weaknesses are. Everyone loves to hear about their strengths, but good players are willing to accept constructive criticism.

Fun. That’s right, hockey needs to be fun! While it is a very intense game that requires a lot of skill, when you look at some of the best players, they are also the ones having the most fun. Look no further than Alexander Ovechkin and his pursuit of the Stanley Cup last spring, talk about a guy having fun!

And we also had plenty of fun and a great time this summer working with players who really want to work hard and get better! To everyone who attended our summer of 2018 hockey camps, thank you! We enjoyed working with you and hope you have a great start to the season.

See you at the rink soon!

 

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