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player tips

13

November

Greg Carter

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!

03

October

Summer Hockey Camp’s Best Reward 

Posted by Greg Carter
Greg Carter's Hockey School

As we hit the ice full speed for the season, I was recently reminded of one of the best rewards from our summer hockey camp, and it’s not at all what I would have imagined, or you might think!

Having played hockey for nearly my entire life – youth, collegiately and in the ECHL – and more recently running our hockey camp for the past two decades, I have met virtually every ‘category’ of player. There are the players who have all of the talent in the world, but never figure out how to dedicate themselves and put it to good use, resulting in shortened careers. There are the players who have all the will in the world, but at a point in time run out of the skill needed to make it to the next level. And of course a million other ‘categories’ of players including those who just want to have fun, meet friends and enjoy the camaraderie and teamwork.

But every so often you meet a player who is as good of a person off of the ice as they are a hockey player on the ice. Nothing is more refreshing than a player who can go out and score a hat trick, lead the team in points all season and is at the same time respectful to coaches and officials, a great student and maybe even volunteering to help others in the community. What is even more refreshing, and rewarding, is when as a coach and instructor, you have had the opportunity to watch this player grow throughout their career knowing you have had a hand in helping shape such a well-rounded individual, both on and off of the ice.

This past summer I had the pleasure of welcoming back a couple of players who grew up participating in our programs and our summer hockey camps. Both will be playing Division I hockey this year for a storied program that ‘wins’ as much in the classroom as they do on the ice. One will be a captain as an underclassman after leading his team in goals last year. These two players skated with our youth players and it turned out to be one of the most memorable and rewarding weeks of the summer.

When they arrived everyone knew who they were and that they were great hockey players. They didn’t have to say please and thank you to everyone they met, but they did. They didn’t have to interact, smile, laugh and try to help every player on the ice, but they did. They didn’t have to pull a struggling skater aside for extra edge work, but they did. They didn’t have to tell stories to every kid that asked about playing college hockey, but they did, because not too long ago it was them looking up to someone, asking those same questions!

Character is critical in hockey, and I was reminded of this watching these two at camp this past summer. We’ve said in past articles that “talent gets you noticed, but character gets recruited.” It was extremely rewarding – and inspiring – as I watched these two at camp to know that yes, they became great hockey players, but even more importantly, they became incredible young adults.

As you go through this season and strive to win every puck battle, every shift, every period and every game, keep in mind that the very best players, especially in the game of hockey, are also great off of the ice. Respect your coaches, teammates, officials, parents and teaches, and most of all, respect the great game of hockey. I can tell you that after spending more than four decades in hockey that if you do this, you will be remembered, and rewarded, for the rest of your life!

Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you at the rink soon!

 

12

December

The Need For Speed

Posted by Greg Carter
Greg Carter's Hockey Camp

Hockey can often seem like a very complex game, but it really doesn’t have to be. Simply put, it is a game of creating favorable odd-man situations and winning ten foot races to the puck, which we have talked about in previous articles. Every player who laces up their skates has a need for speed, and while some possess a natural talent for accelerating like a Jack Russell Terrier chasing a red a squirrel through the neighbor’s backyard, most players have to work extremely hard on and off of the ice to develop and maintain their speed and quickness.

Here are a few great tips to building and enhancing this important area of your game:

  • Top speed comes from maintaining acceleration. Use your inside edges to start off and create speed, then use your outside edges to maintain your stride. Practice moving between the two edges and feel the difference. Also swing your arms north and south to aid your momentum. At out hockey camp we see many players who slow themselves down by moving their upper body and arms east and west, this is a pretty simple correction that can have immediate impact.
  • The harder you dig into the ice, the faster you will propel yourself. Reaching top speed, and maintaining speed, requires full body coordination. This is where technique is very important, work on it and built a solid foundation for your stride and over time, you will become a fast skater.
  • Focus on powerful, long strides. This includes maintaining a 90-degree knee bend, and using your three skating joints: hip, knee and ankle. In order to extend your stride, you must work on your recovery, which means bringing your knee and skate under your shoulder, allowing you to maintain your balance and give you the ability to reach full extension with your stride.

An explosive start to your stride ultimately means more quickness. Building muscle, along with mastering the proper fundamentals, is important to increasing speed. Squats and plyometric training are two common exercises that athletes use in the weight room to build the muscles that help win the races. Take the time on the ice to work with coaches and instructors to refine the mechanics of your stride. Off of the ice, put in the time with a strength coach focusing on the leg muscles that will provide the horsepower for your stride.

Like all of the great skills needed to achieve your goals, developing speed comes down to who is willing to put in the time to work hard at it. If you take the time to create a fundamentally sound stride, and also develop strength, you will be well on your way to possessing game-changing speed!

We hope you are having a great season and look forward to working with you at one of our summer hockey camps in ten states next summer!

31

October

What’s In Your Game?

Posted by Greg Carter
Greg Carter

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?

11

September

big-time-player-blog

Each year at the start of the season after tryouts, players and parents are revved up with anticipation about where they will fit in on their team, what their role will be, and of course, what position they will play and the biggest question, what line will they be on?

At younger ages however, it is important to pump the brakes a bit, and to keep the larger development picture in perspective. The better players are not just the players who did the best at tryouts. They are players who understand all aspects of the game. They are players that are able to adapt to all situations in the game, offensively and defensively, are able to skate competitively both forwards and backwards, and understand the importance of “positional versatility” as it is described in a recent USA Hockey article:

“The ability to be versatile is a key component of today’s successful hockey player,” said USA Hockey’s Bob Mancini, an American Development Model regional manager. “And it starts in youth hockey. Playing multiple positions at a young age does more than just give options to kids and their coaches. By playing and learning multiple positions, players view the game from different areas and understand  how to better defeat opponents in the small battles that typically pit one position against another. So the benefits can be immediate, and they can also be long-term. Years down the road, those youth hockey days of playing multiple positions can pay big dividends.”

Being able to play multiple positions will help players not only with their long term development, but also immediately this season, as  you seek to find your place, and role, on a team. There are numerous success stories about prep, collegiate and professional players who earned a spot on a top team – and the top line – playing a position other than the one they anticipated. The great players know how to play all positions, and how to accept their role on a team.

As an old coach of mine used to say, it’s more important to be a complete player, than a first line player.

So as you start the season, rather than focusing on the first, second or third line, keep in mind all of the hard work that you put in at hockey camp and your off-season goals, and remember that playing all positions is just as important in long term development as is playing first line center or first line wing. The best players will always find a way to play together, and sometimes that might mean playing defense instead of center.

The question is, will you be prepared, and ready to play?

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