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17

January

Tough Season? No Problem!

Posted by Greg Carter

Mid-season can be a challenging time of year for players, coaches and parents. It’s that in between time when the hype and anticipation of the new season has worn off, and although the playoffs are on the horizon, the next few weeks can be a bit of a grind. This can be especially true for players who just aren’t quite having the season they expected.

We have written about the importance of setting goals at the start of the season, and that development is a marathon, not a sprint. This is the time of year to remind yourself of these goals and that this is one season and one moment in time when regardless of how good, bad or average things are going, there is a ton of opportunity down the road, be it the next game, tournament or season!

Many coaches take the opportunity at this juncture to provide mid-season evaluations that should give players some specific examples of successes, as well as areas that need improvement. This feedback should be the motivation for players to refocus and get energized for the homestretch of the season and beyond.

Every team needs positive players who work hard and bring energy to practices and games. As the old saying goes, there is no substitute for hard work, and the best way to get the results that you want is exactly that, working as hard as you possibly can during each and every practice.

Changing the way things are going on the ice can also start with changing habits off of the ice. For example, if you aren’t scoring as many goals as you anticipated, try shooting pucks for 30 minutes prior to going to the rink. If you don’t feel like you have the energy or quickness you need during the game, try changing your warm up routine and pay attention to the types of food and drink you are consuming prior to the game.

Finally, I like to tell the story of a very successful coach who addressed our team prior to a big game by saying “In order to be good, you first have to believe that you are good.” While that is a relatively simple statement, it’s extremely meaningful in that players who enter games and practices with a positive mindset are well positioned to achieve the success they anticipate.

So as you start to enter the final stretch of your season, bring a great ‘can-do’ attitude with an excellent work ethic and you will help your team skate home with the hardware!

Each summer we work with hockey players from across Massachusetts as well as the entire country. Our staff is asked many questions about hockey development by both players and parents, and here are the most frequently asked questions.

What does my child need to do to get better?
Every parents wants the best for their child, especially hockey parents for their hockey players! The first thing to recognize is that development is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. For players to get better they need to commit to a long term development strategy geared towards working on specialized skill sets at each level from Mites on up. If a player masters each of these age-specific skills, they will have a great foundation to build on throughout their career.

Should my child play a variety of positions or just forward or just defense?
This is an interesting question because of how often it gets brought up. At young ages kids need to develop a full understanding of the game of hockey including skills, strategies and tactics at both forward and defense. Many great defensemen playing at the collegiate and professional levels attribute their ability to ‘see the ice’, step up into the play and contribute offensively to having played forward as a youth or even a prep player.

How can I score more goals?
Every player wants to score goals, and there is one surefire way to find the back of the net more often: shoot pucks. A great coach once told me that you can never shoot enough pucks, and he was right. Another way to score more goals is to become a great stickhandler. Spend time at practice, home and hockey camp working on stickhandling and it will pay off on the score sheet!

What can I do to improve my skating, speed and quickness?
We love this question at our hockey school because skating and stride is too often overlooked by hockey players. Even the smoothest, fastest and quickest skaters are continually working to improve in this area because they understand the importance of speed, quickness and stride in the game of hockey. To improve your skating focus on things like edge work and technique. We like to really focus on these two areas at our hockey camps and the results can be extremely positive.

What do I need to do to make the team next year?
This is always the biggest question as we work with players prior to tryouts. Regardless of what level you are playing at or team you want to make, there is no substitute for commitment and hard work. Create a list of skills that you need to work on and spend time on and off the ice mastering these skills. Shoot pucks and stickhandle rather than watching TV or sitting on your phone. Hockey is becoming more competitive every day and the players who make the team are the ones who put in the time and dedicate themselves to learning new skills and getting better everyday!

Do you have a question about your hockey development or summer hockey camp? Email us and we would be happy to answer your questions!

We have hockey camps in ten states this summer including Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia. We hope to see you on the ice soon!

15

December

Hockey 2016 – By The Numbers

Posted by Greg Carter

2016 was another great year on the ice. Running hockey camps in 10 states again reminded us just how awesome this sport really is in the U.S.
Here are our some of the stats – and a black bear – behind the great states that we enjoy working in each summer!

We started out our hockey camp in Alaska with a black bear greeting us at our cabin. Hockey is alive and well in the Last Frontier. There are nearly 9,000 players in Alaska and the state currently has 16 men’s Division 1 players and 8 women playing Division I hockey.

Connecticut is one of our favorite spots with more than 13,000 players registered with USA Hockey. The also have a nice roster of Division I players including 30 on the men’s side and 15 on women’s teams.

Illinois is a hotbed of “Blackhawk’s hockey” with 84 Division I men’s players (5th most) and 35 women (3rd most). Illinois also has more than 31,000 total hockey players and is always a fun place to train aspiring young athletes!

New Hampshire hockey families are passionate about the game. With around 6,000 players in the state this season, they have the same number (13) of both men and women playing Division I.

New Jersey loves their Devils and has just under 20,000 players in the state. They also have 45 men’s Division I players this season and 4 on the women’s side.

New York is always among the leaders in the U.S. registering just under 50,000 players! We love our camps in the state that has 94 men’s Division 1 players this season and 33 women.

There are just over 30,000 players in the great state of Pennsylvania, all admiring the recent Flyers winning streak, or wanting to grow up and be like the incredible Sid Crosby. 47 men’s players and 9 women Division I players hail from Pennsylvania.

Vermont registers just under 5,000 players and has 3 men and 10 women playing Division I hockey this year.

Virginia has just over 10,000 registered players and 5 men and 2 women playing Division I hockey.

Finally, we close with our home state of Massachusetts, where we love the Bruins; and the Red Sox! Massachusetts (113) ranks third only to Michigan (145) and Minnesota (203) in producing Division I men’s hockey players. There are 72 women from Mass. playing Division I hockey this season, second only to Minnesota (147). As our friends at Mass. Hockey would say, we are #MassProud!

We hope you enjoyed your year of hockey as much as we did.

From our team to yours, have a very happy holiday season and we look forward to seeing you on the ice in 2017!

28

November

Holiday Shoppers & Hockey Parents

Posted by Greg Carter

A new holiday tradition has emerged within a circle of family and friends over the past few years that involves scanning the national news for the footage of outrageous behavior by black Friday shoppers. The excitement and anticipation all kicks off Thursday evening when long lines start to snake their way around the outside of stores as people wait for hours and hours for access to the best deals of the year.

And once the store doors open, it’s like the hole shot at a motocross race, the gates opening at the Kentucky Derby and the opening faceoff at Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals all rolled up into one incredibly intense moment. And what happens next is anyone’s guess.

TV footage of these mad scrambles from the front doors of the store to the electronics departments resembles the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Hearts are pumping and adrenaline is at peak levels, it’s a complete frenzy. And then it happens, excitement turns to frustration, then aggression and ultimately anger. Arguments ensue and in some cases, fights break out and punches are thrown. You really can’t make it up.

So what does the behavior by some holiday shoppers have to do with the behavior of some hockey parents? There are actually some similarities – common denominators – in the behaviors witnessed in both hockey rinks and shopping malls. Unable to control the energy and excitement of the moment, some people tend to let emotions get the better of them, and their better judgement.

As we enter the holiday shopping season, and the invitational hockey tournament season, it’s a great time to take a deep breath and remember what is really important at this time of year, and what type of memories we are creating for our kids around the Christmas tree, and our hockey players around the rink.

Some of the best memories of playing youth hockey don’t involve the wins or losses, but instead the great teammates that turn into great, lifelong friends. Competition can bring out the best, and the worst in people, and it’s up to each individual to decide how they are going to react in emotional situations.

An old coach used to say that if you are properly prepared and confident in yourself and your ability to perform, then you are well-positioned to be successful. Hockey is the greatest game on Earth, and a sport full of excitement, energy and intensity. How parents and players manage emotions during a game can greatly influence the outcome of the situation and whether or not you achieve success.

So whether you are trying to win the race to the puck, or the race to a high-discounted flat-screen TV, remember that both on and off of the ice, this is the most wonderful time of the year!

13

November

What’s Your Hockey Emoji?

Posted by Greg Carter

I received a text the other day that got me thinking that if hockey players had to choose an emoji to describe themselves and their best hockey skills, what emoji it be?

There are literally hundreds of emoji’s to choose from when sending emails and texts, all of which make communication obvious, quick and simple. Just the other day I sent a text asking if someone was ready for hockey practice and I got back a thumbs up, hand clap and a mail box, which I later learned was meant to say ‘yes, I’m super excited to bring the mail’. All this got me thinking, if you had to pick, what would be your hockey emoji? Here are a few of our favorites:

eggThe Ham & Egger: This is for the every day player that isn’t necessarily the standout on the team, but every practice and game is consistently good and you just know what to expect from them. Every team has and needs players who may not have the top end talent and skill, but they have a drive and desire to win the battles in the corner and the races to the puck. Will over skill.

fist-bumpThe Pick Me Up Fist Bump: A pick me up player is important to the team. The fist bump is for the player that is always a good teammate and not only loves to celebrate the big moments with a fist bump, but to also use it in the difficult times to say ‘I got your back’.

moviecamThe Highlight Reel Movie Camera: This is for the players who have the ability to make moves on the ice that other players try to emulate. They are silky smooth with the puck, can stickhandle through a crowd and can deke goalies to score highlight reel goals.

tongueThe Exhausted Dog Tongue: This describes complete exhaustion, think of your dog after throwing the ball with him for a half hour. Dog tired! When we run conditioning drills at our hockey camps it’s always fun to see the top players working the hardest. If your hockey emoji is both the highlight reel and the dog tongue, you should be proud of yourself!

violinThe “Whine”, Cheese and Violin:  This describes the player who constantly whines about what position they are playing, not getting the puck enough or which line they are on. The violin emoji is often accompanied by the goblet and piece of cheese emoji’s.

gamblerThe Riverboat Gambler. This is the player with talent and the confidence that the chips are stacked in their favor. A dangerous combination that can win championships, but also a risk factor that puts gray hair on coaches. The Riverboat Gambler is willing to risk it all for the big play, and win they score, they win big. But there is always the chance of losing it all with their mid-ice dangle with no safety valve.

100The All-In, All The Time 100: This is for the player that gives 100% in everything they do. They are a good teammate in the locker room, have a 100% positive attitude, are always working their hardest and love the game 100% of the time!

Although emoji’s aren’t yet showing up in scouting reports or player/coach meetings, they are definitely a fun and entertaining way to communicate. So, what is the best emoji to describe you has a hockey player?

This article was written by the Greg Carter Hockey School pro staff. We have hockey schools in Massachusetts and throughout the United States. Please check out our hockey camp page for dates & locations for our 2017 summer hockey camps.

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