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player tips

When Auston Matthews scored a hat trick in his first NHL game, he became only the fifth player in NHL history to net 3 goals in a career debut. He also became the first Maple Leaf to accomplish this, which is pretty incredible for a team with the history of this original six team. Later in the game when Matthews proceeded to find the back of the net for the fourth time, you knew this would be a night that would have the hockey world talking.

It was little secret that Matthews would be chosen first in the 2016 NHL Draft, but as obvious as the choice seemed to be, the Matthews hype has been taken to an entirely new level after his opening night performance. Suddenly, everyone wants to know everything about this silky smooth forward from Arizona.

So what can youth hockey players learn from Matthews’ map to the NHL?

Skill Development. From an early age, Matthews focused on developing skills versus playing a bunch of games with all of the top teams in the area. He spent tons of hours playing small area games. He worked tirelessly on powerskating. He had the puck on his stick all the time learning to ‘stickhandle in a phone booth’. He focused on skill development and mastering the fundamental skills that would allow him to reach his full potential.

Work Ethic. Any coach will tell you that when you can combine exceptional skill with focus and drive, you have the recipe for a great hockey player. When Matthews learned a new skill he didn’t quit until he mastered it. Matthews’ work ethic is a shining example of what can happen when you have a mentality of not just learning a skill, but mastering a skill through repetition, commitment and hard work.

Shoot Pucks. At our hockey school we love to tell players that they can never shoot enough pucks. Matthews uses the skills he learned playing small area games to create time and space, which ultimately affords him the opportunities to get a lot of shots on goal. And not only is he getting shots on goal, but because he has a deadly shot, he has scored a lot of goals.

And in his first NHL game, he got 4.

 

04

October

Are You a Coachable Hockey Player?

Posted by Greg Carter

With the start of the hockey season upon us, it’s important to stop and think about your goals for this winter, and one of the first questions you should ask yourself is if you are a coachable player.

What is a ‘coachable player’? A few characteristics of coachable hockey players include:

  • Respecting your hockey coach and his/her ability to make you a better hockey player.
  • Accepting that there is always room for improvement and growth.
  • Acknowledgement that constructive criticism is part of hockey development.
  • A willingness and accountability to apply what is learned.
  • A burning desire to work hard and become a better hockey player!

In our many years of coaching and running hockey clinics and summer hockey schools, we have seen many hockey players who have great skills, but they simply aren’t coachable. This can be due to parent influence, ego, a lack of respect for the coach or inability to accept criticism. Regardless of the reason, a player will have a difficult time achieving their full potential if they are not coachable.

Perhaps one of the most important ingredients in being coachable is simply having a great attitude and approach to the game. Players who come to the rink eager and willing to learn at practice are going to listen to coaches rather than rolling their eyes at them. These players are going to think about the areas of their game that needs improvement rather than brushing it off as a coach picking on them. These players are the ones who leave practice excited and feeling like they improved on a skill, rather than dwelling on the fact they aren’t perfect.

Coachable players tend to develop their skills and knowledge of the game and an accelerated pace. They also tend to be those who the coaches like to work with, because the coaches can see the improvement, and find satisfaction in helping a player take their game to the next level.

Really good coaches thrive on feeding the hunger of coachable players. Good coaches will recognize and appreciate your desire to improve, and a positive coach/player relationship will most often result in the coach doing everything they can to help you achieve your goals.

So before the season really gets going, take a minute and ask yourself: Am I a coachable hockey player?

14

September

This Season, Make it Matter

Posted by Greg Carter

When it comes to applying your hard work from hockey camp this summer, what are you doing this season to make it matter?

Each summer at our hockey schools we teach a wide variety of hockey skills including shooting, passing, power skating, speed, agility and of course, scoring! We enjoy watching hockey players develop and improve fundamental skills, as well as helping them understand what it really takes to become a better hockey player.

There really is no secret to the ingredients resulting in success, and it all  starts with a big helping of hard work. What the best players understand however, is that while the ingredients may be similar for players’ path to achieving their goals, it’s the recipe that differs from player to player. And the top players understand that the recipe, just like a favorite dish, requires effort.

Summer hockey school is a great time to fine tune your game and work on developing your personal goals. Everything that you worked on this past summer will play an important role in your success this season. And to really make it matter this season, an emphasis needs to be placed on continuing to improve on the skills learned and developed over the summer.

It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of the start of the season and get caught up in some early season success. By mid-season however, it’s not uncommon to fall back into bad habits or taking short cuts. Players need to take the instruction learned over the summer and apply it each and every practice. Think of this in terms of building the foundation to a home. Each layer of bricks will continue to support the structure of the house, and every layer must be as strong or stronger than the previous.

In the same way, hockey players must advance through their development consistently striving to improve skills, and adding to a strong foundation that will lead them to becoming a great hockey player and achieving their goals.

So with the hockey season upon us, and to really make it matter this season, write down your greatest strengths and also areas of your game that require improvement.  Think back to what you learned at summer hockey school and how you can apply that knowledge at every practice and every game.

Continue to work hard and tweak the ingredients in your recipe for success. When things are going great continue to stay focused, and when you find a challenging time, think back to your foundation and the skills that you have developed.

And most of all this season, make it matter!

09

August

IMG_6806 - Version 2Training hockey players and helping in their development is very rewarding. We’d like to introduce some of the best players we met and had the privilege of working with this summer.

In a recent blog post we introduced you to five people you will meet at summer hockey school. As we enter our final month of hockey school we would like to introduce you to a few of our best players from our travels across the country this summer training hockey players and promoting skill development.

The Character Kid. Everyone knows character counts, and this summer we met plenty of exceptional players and parents who had great character on and off of the ice. When it comes to skill development and becoming a great hockey player, who you are as a person, how you carry yourself and treat teammates is all part of the ingredients for success.

The ‘Centered’ Center. Balance is important not only in skating and performance with stride and hockey skills, but balance is also important when it comes to hockey and a daily routine. Our staff met many hockey players this summer, and those who came to the rink with the most enthusiasm, excitement and willingness to learn were often those who had good balance in their life. Many were multiple sport athletes. Some were taking summer school. Others came from water skiing at the lake to the rink. Remain ‘centered’ with good balance when it comes to your hockey schedule and you will find success.

The Skinny Skillmaster. Most of the players we train at our hockey camps are between the ages of 8 and 16. What this means  for example, is that some Peewees weigh 70 pounds and others might weigh 150. One player thought he needed to really bulk up and gain weight, but what he really needed was patience for his body to grow into his frame. A good diet during this age of development is important. We saw many kids eating junk food, drinking highly caffeinated energy drinks and other foods and beverages that you would never find in a college or professional locker room. Food is fuel for your body, but not all food (and beverages) are good fuel.

We hope you had a great summer of hockey and improved your skills. Make sure to keep these hockey development tips in mind as you work your way through August and onto your team for the upcoming season!

13

July

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Summer is an awesome time of the year for so many reasons. We obviously love to run summer hockey schools and train young hockey players June – August, but we also enjoy taking advantage of the great weather and spending time with family and friends. One recent sunny afternoon we took a trip to the beach and as we were sitting in the sand enjoying the scenery and blue water, the conversation of course gravitated to hockey and before long, we were drawing up plays in the sand!

We left the beach that day with 5 good lessons about the beach, and hockey!

1. Come prepared. I used to have a coach that said ‘take care of your equipment, and your equipment will take care of you’. Believe it or not, how you tape your stick is important. Having the proper amount of time to stretch and get dressed is important. Arrive at the rink in time to get mentally prepared for the game, not at the last minute scrambling to find the locker room, only to discover that you forgot an elbow pad . . . sort of like the family at the beach who forgot sun screen and left looking like lobsters.

2. Hit the ice with authority. Watching people at the beach tiptoe into the water can be hilarious. Rather than just taking the plunge, so many people try to take it step by step until they think it’s warm enough to dive in. The same can be said at the rink, we love to train – and coach – the players who literally run onto the ice they are so excited to be at the rink. And when it comes to game time, a team running onto the ice and skating a hard lap can be very intimidating.

3. Energy. Everyone loves a day at the beach, and the people having the most fun are those who are playing volleyball, swimming and taking advantage of every opportunity. When it comes to hockey, use your energy to get noticed on the ice and to be quicker, faster and always one step ahead of the competition. High energy people at the beach have more fun, and high energy hockey players are more productive and score more goals!

4. Awareness. The beach can get crowded, the current can get swift and the water can get deep. You always need to know where you are at the beach and in the water. On the hockey rink, you also need great awareness to be effective. Being able to see the ice, anticipate the play and separate yourself from the crowd can add up to great defense and a lot of scoring.

5. Respect. This is one that we talk about at our hockey schools quite often. Just like at the beach where you need to have respect for others around by not throwing sand or playing your favorite song too loud, hockey is a game of respect. Hockey players respect their opponent, respect their coach and teammates and most of all, respect the game.

We enjoyed our day at the beach and are planning a few more trips in the coming weeks. We do still have spots still available in most of our camps taking place in 10 states this summer so we hope to see you soon, either at the beach, or at the rink!

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