player tips

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.

 

08

April

The Season of Champions

Posted by Greg Carter

Rails

April is one of the great hockey months. In the NHL we have the push to the playoffs, which means a few things: the intensity ratchets up several notches, the speed of the game shifts up a gear or two and of course the facial hair is grown out. During April we also have college hockey’s Frozen Four. This is another great tournament as unpaid players are putting it all on the line not for a huge paycheck, but rather for the simple right to win a championship.

You can’t help but watch the incredible hockey this time of year and wonder, ‘what does it really take to get to that level of play’ . . . not just playing at the highest level, but to advance through the regular season and the playoffs and ultimately hit the ice and play on the biggest stage, under the brightest lights for the right to hoist the biggest trophy.

For most of players, and you’ll hear this in post-game interviews, the ‘what it really takes’ is determination. Not just team determination, but individual determination.  And that determination didn’t just start at the end of the regular season or the weeks leading into the playoffs as the team fought to make the post season. For the most successful players, that determination started a long time ago in a basement, garage, backyard rink or local park.

Determination goes hand and hand with hard work. The great Vince Lombardi once said “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

Every hockey player wants to win, wants to make the playoffs, wants to play for the championship and wants to hoist the trophy. The reality is that the players who do end up in these games are the ones who have realized at a young age what it really takes to get there. First and foremost it requires a love of the game. After that, it takes commitment, determination and hard work.

The best players that I’ve played with have all possessed these traits. They were the guys at the rink first and off the ice last. They loved shooting pucks. They loved practicing and trying to get better every day. And I mean every day. They loved being at the rink, and when they weren’t they were making mom and dad upset by staying at the local rink two hours too long. They were quintessential rink rats, who also had skill, determination and weren’t afraid of hard work.

So when you see players on TV hoisting a trophy, some doing so in tears, it’s important to understand that the journey for these players didn’t start at the beginning of the season. It started at the beginning of their recognition that with determination and hard work, there can be no limits to your success.

When does your journey begin?

22

January

Tips for scoring goals

Posted by Greg Carter

Rails

What is more fun than scoring a goal in hockey? Well, maybe assisting on a goal! But there is no arguing that putting the puck by the goaltender is what every player strives for to help their team win, and here are 5 tips to help you score more goals this season.

1. Shoot like you mean it. Too many players shoot like they are trying to just get the puck across the goal line. We often see this when players come to our hockey camp. Shoot like you mean it, and not only want to put the puck in the net, but right through the back of the net!

2. Crash the net. When you know a teammate has a shot on goal, crash the net. This means getting yourself to just outside the crease, not the hash marks or 10 feet out. Getting the rebound just after the goalie gives it up catches him/her out of position, and gives you the greatest opportunity to score.

3. Keep moving. Great players anticipate the play and where the puck is going. Wherever you are on the ice, move your feet and get to the open area or get to the puck first. Using your hockey sense and knowing where to go, and actually getting there, will put you in prime position to score goals.

4. Be confident and patient. These two goal-scoring attributes often go together. Some of the prettiest deke goals result from being confident in a move, and patient enough to wait for the play to evolve to the point you have a clear lane to the net, shot on goal or opportunity to put your move on the goalie.

5. Good old fashioned practice. There are no shortcuts to scoring success, and for every player that scores with a rocket ‘snipe’ and makes it looks easy, they have shot hundreds, if not thousands of pucks on and off the ice. Something we preach at our hockey school is that in practice, finish every drill with a shot on goal like it’s a game situation, not just a shot to finish the drill.

At our summer hockey school and hockey clinics we take great pride in teaching players the fundamentals, as well as advanced skill sets needed to score goals. Check out our summer hockey camps for more information about how we can help you become a better hockey player.

Have you found success scoring goals? We’d love to hear your story, share it

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