player tips

09

July

An Inspiring Summer of Hockey

Posted by Greg Carter
Greg Carter Hockey Camp

The summer of 2019 is very special for Greg Carter Hockey Camp as we celebrate our 25th year of training hockey players. In the quarter century that we have been working on improving the skills of hockey players we have seen some very inspiring moments at our camps where as we like to say, players have that ‘lightbulb moment’, things click and they shift into the next gear.

Here are a few great quotes related to some player highlights that we have experienced during this inspiring summer of hockey:

“I’m [recruiting] gym rats who want to get better because so many kids are peaking and think they’ve already arrived.”

This quote from a coach perfectly articulates why we see so many motivated hockey players at our camp each summer. As players mature, they start to recognize which players are motivated and also those players who are not. We’ve written articles in the past about ‘going from the third line to the first line’ and when it comes to getting better and improving skills, sometimes it simply comes down to who wants it more! We are seeing a lot of players at our camp this summer who are really working hard and definitely ‘want it’!

“Good things take time, as they should. We shouldn’t expect good things to happen overnight.”

Player development is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Mastering the skills necessary to become a great hockey players takes dedication, which means time, commitment and self-discipline. Hockey players will not see results overnight, but instead over a period of time as success in practice translates to incremental improvements in performance.

“Little things make the big things happen.”

This is another player characteristic that we love to talk about at our summer hockey school and mastering fundamental hockey skills allows players to do the little things that make the big things happen! Watching the women’s soccer team advance through the preliminary rounds and ultimately win the World Cup was phenomenal and full of these little moments that led to the big moments. So many goals were scored because of a crafty little deke, a sprint beating the opponent to the ball or an incredible ball skill that allowed the player to control the ball and make a play. Like these awesome soccer players, great hockey players have mastered all of the ‘little’ skills.

We hope that you are enjoying your summer with family and friends and that you have been inspired to carve out some time to improve your game! Good luck with your training and we hope to see you at the rink soon!

Click here for a list of our July and August camps!

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!

 

28

November

Great Advice From An Elite Athlete

Posted by Greg Carter
Greg Carter's European Hockey Camp

I was recently talking with an elite athlete who shared some important advice he had received from his parents:

To play the game is good,
To win the game is better,
To love the game is best of all.

I left the conversation thinking about all of the great players that I have had the pleasure of playing with or coached, and about those who have made it to the Division I level and beyond. Without exception, they all loved the game. Some of them are listed in our hockey camp Hall of Fame.

Youth hockey players, especially as they mature and reach the top of the pyramid, have many influences, and many people trying to give them advice. “You need to do this, and you need to do that.”

This is where one can find the defining fine line between needing to do something, and doing it because you love the game. 

For example, I can remember being at hockey school and receiving instruction on how to improve my shot. I spent many hours working on developing the best shot I possibly could. Yes, I needed to do this, but that’s not why I did it. I practiced shooting until I literally could not shoot another puck because I loved the thought of scoring the winning goal. I loved the thought of the on-ice celebration afterwards. I loved the thought of laughing and having fun in the room after a win with my buddies. And all of these feelings are why I loved the game way back then, and still today.

The encouragement that I received from people closest to me was always centered around the joys of competition, and the satisfaction of coming out on top. Things like ‘hockey is a game of ten-foot races, win the races and you stand a good chance of winning the game.” When someone said that to me, I took that as an opportunity to work hard on my speed. Again, not because someone told me that I had to, but because I wanted to win so bad, and wanted to feel the exhilaration that comes along with it. When you love something the compete level is at its greatest, as are your chances of success.

No one can teach a player to love the game, instead it has to come naturally and with positive encouragement. Teaching versus preaching is important.  Focusing on long-term development versus short-term gain is critical. Car rides home discussing the fun atmosphere of a game, the excitement of the speed and appreciation of the finesses are things that create the emotional connection with a player to the game. And once that positive emotional connection is made, and a vision of that player being in the moment is created, a great future can be built on the foundation.

As you continue down the road this winter with your son or daughter, remember that to play the game is good, to win the game is better, and to love the game is best of all.

 

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?

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