Archive for January 2010

5 – Day Two in the “Hockey Wars”

January 31, 2010

Well, today has actually been an abbreviated day in the so-called hockey wars.  Quite often I’ll rush from my early morning Learn-to-skate and Learn-to-play programs to a mid-afternoon Mighty Mite game at another rink.  But, with that game played yesterday, my fun-on-the-ice actually ended a little after noontime today.

*

For those who don’t know about my learn-to programs, maybe I can share a little about them here…

‘Course, if you’ve known me for a long time, you probably appreciate that I’m big into the science of training, be it with older guys or the littlest ones.  Actually, and not known by many parents (or coaches), work with the youngest kids can impact them for life (at least athletically).  In fact, I did a lot of studying on that topic and ultimately produced two videos over at CoachChic.com, these titled “Critical Periods in Motor Learning” (Parts 1 and 2).  The main thesis is that there are critical periods in every human’s development.  And, if those critical periods are missed, training the human later just isn’t going to produce the best results — for the likes of coordination, hand/eye skills, balance and so many other important physical traits.  (By the way, it’s believed that some important motor abilities may begin forming even before birth, and some critical periods have already passed before I even get to work with those little ones.)

Photo thanks to Linda V.

All that said, I still try to cram as much science into my beginner classes as I possibly can, even though my little charges (and their parents) wouldn’t recognize it.  As far as they’re concerned, there’s very little structure to a clinic (and no dawgoned lines), and there’s a whole lot of fun involved.  Ya, if the kids keep laughing and keep feeling good about themselves, they’ll die to come back again.  And that kinda snowballs, with the kids coming back and getting better, coming back, getting better, and you know what I mean…

I actually include some (home study) videos and a little off-ice work as part of the science to my program.  And, while I’m trying to help the kids with much of this, appreciate that I’m also educating parents (so that they can better help their own youngsters behind the scenes).

My youngest kids start the morning by reporting just 10-minutes early for a little off-ice work in our lockerroom.  Wearing all their on-ice gear, they practiced getting up and down, marching, jogging and other real basics during the earliest weeks.  And, trust me:  that this sort of stuff really does transfer to the ice.  More recently, my previous beginners are now learning to pose in a “strength position” (with their sticks), to hop on one or both feet, and to do simple cross-overs.

Mighty Mites learning to attack!

My slightly more advanced group basically started the winter where the younger kids are now, and we’ve since progressed to working on lining-up for face-offs and learning to stay on-side.  Again, we don’t have to waste valuable ice-time to do these things, but instead use the lockerroom or the rink’s runway mats.  (Okay, so you’d probably like to see one of those sessions in action?  Here’s a CoachChic.com post that shows an Off-ice Tactical Practice I’ve made free for you non-members.  I think you’re gonna love the way this thing works.)

*

From talking to a number of Mighty Mite team parents who have the sample collars I’ve given them (the collars that promise to protect kids against neck injuries), it seems they’re at least somewhat comforted after hearing about the recent high school injuries that occurred locally over the past week.  I’m rushing like crazy to make those things available to groups as well as individuals, so I’ll spend later tonight getting my new on-line store closer to ready.

*

Freed from any further outside commitments, I spent the early part of the afternoon updating some things over at CoachChic.com.  A favorite member, Craig from Western Canada, made a few interesting Comments, and I answered with a new entry that I hope folks will find very interesting.  Actually, he’d sent me a link to a YouTube.com video showing a pretty wild goal being scored.  However, while Craig was excited about the offensive display, I took quite a bit of time breaking down the numerous defensive mistakes that allowed that score.  (As I said in my article, “I’d have suffered 32 heart attacks” if my team gave-up that kind of goal!” 🙂 )

As an aside here…  I am someday going to tell you about the little camcorder I now carry around to the rinks.  Oh, I have a studio most folks would die for, and I have thousands of dollars worth of cameras.  But, the little one I now use most often is just an inexpensive one that’s still something very special.

Anyway, I checked that camera for accumulated footage tonight, and discovered I have enough to make about a dozen new posts over the coming week or so.  (Ahhh…  I love it when a plan comes together!)

*

A Jr HS player learns THE Bobby Orr Move!

As if I don’t wear enough hats…  I’m just pondering how I’ll advertise next year’s NEHI Teams.  I sense our HS Prep team will be full a day or so after that is announced (it always seems to happen that way).  Rightly so, my first obligations are always to the returning players (in good standing) and to the kids who paid their dues on our Jr HS Team.  (Interested families might browse the CoachChic.com site to see some things my young guys work on and learn over the course of nearly a year with me.  And, if you’re a member, be sure to catch my newest post on THE Bobby Orr Move — by clicking on the adjacent photo; some Jr HS Team kids are looking awesome there!)

As for those kids who are or aren’t paying those dues…  I hate to say it, but I usually have to pass on the families who care more about winning than following a well established and very successful plan.

Then, when it comes to the winning versus development question, I’ve added a separate little post (click here) to explain what I think can go wrong when winning is the top priority.

That said, what I’ve seen happen over about the decade or so my NEHI Teams have existed, is that the Jr HS Team struggles for a time as they work on their game.  Interestingly, however, by the time they reach the HS Prep squad, the same players seem to have far surpassed the kids who were previously beating them.  Hmmmmm…

Anyway, I have to sometime soon make some decisions, and then get a quick newsletter out.  In the meantime, if you caught today’s blog, and if you’re interested in looking into one of next season’s teams, drop me an email kinda fast (just click here).

*

Lastly, as someone more famous than I once said, “A-bah-beeet, a-bah-beeet, that’s all folks!”  (Which means I’m off to work on the CoachChic.com Store until my eyelids fail me!)

Advertisements

Winning Versus Development

January 31, 2010

When it comes to choosing between winning and development, here are a number of issues I’ve seen arise during my 40-ish years in the game:

* There are some local (at least so-called) AAA programs where kids can sit in a car for about 7- or 8-hours each weekend to sometimes get about 12-shifts per game (if they’re lucky). If a player isn’t one of the best on such a team, he or she can quite possibly sit on the bench for an entire game after making that long trek (no kidding). Yup, that’s the thing about needing to win (at virtually any cost).

* In fact, the pressure to win forces coaches to do things they might not do if their entire purpose was to just develop players. And, by this, I mean developing ALL of their players, not just a few.

* Then, a certain subject arose in a recent conversation at one of the local rinks, and I was telling a parent that I feel there are usually only about 3 players on each team who are truly at the designated level. In other words, there might be about 3 true Bantam AAA’s on such a team, and the rest are just filling-in around them and paying the freight. And, I’m going to proclaim that to be true, whether we’re talking about the local Mite A team or the big-time Junior team. And, when it comes to meting out ice-time, what do you think the need-to-win kind of coach is going to do? He or she is going to play the top players ’til they drop, and forget the names of the kids he or she doesn’t trust.

* Now, this may be just as hard for some parents to swallow, but… Trophies are nice, and so are great stats. If there’s a problem, though, it’s that players can’t take any of their accomplishments with them when they tryout for a high school team, or vie for varsity ice-time. No, all that is going to matter is what skills the player developed in previous years, and how smartly he or she can ultimately think the game.

*Finally, it recently struck me that winning doesn’t become necessary until a player reaches high school, and games become increasingly more meaningful if a player is fortunate enough to reach the college and then pro levels of hockey.  Think about that, if you would…  All the youth games (and especially the practices) up to the time a youngster reaches high school only have value if they were aimed at helping the player be ready for that level.

Furthermore, I recall a Division I college head coach suggesting that he found it hard to motivate some players, mainly because (in my words), “…they had already played a kzillion of the most important games of their lives!”  Ya, just think about that one, or about some coach trying to tell a 13-year old that a summer tournament game is a real biggie.  Not.

Okay, so I’ve probably raised some slightly controversial points here.  I’d really like to know how you feel about this stuff, though, and I’d love for you to leave your Comment below.  I try to keep growing and learning every day!

4 – Day One in the “Hockey Wars”

January 30, 2010

That’s what I’ve for a long time called an extreme stretch of hockey commitments, the “hockey wars”!

*

Up at a little after 7am this morning, I checked email first (as usual), shaved, showered, dressed in really warm garb for this brisk day, gathered a must-do list from my diary, and then drove the 40-ish minutes to a Team NEHI off-ice practice.

Off-ice Shooting Work

Now, you should know that this Saturday morning dryland session is my very favorite practice of the week.  I truly mean that.  It’s the only time I feel I can relax with the kids, at least partly because the clock at our off-ice facility isn’t ticking away at about $5 per minute (as it would be when we’re at a local ice rink).   The mix of  things we can do there  is also fun for me.  I mean, I generally enhance my players’ athleticism with a ton of gymnastic type drills for a good half-hour or so, we’ll shoot and do lots of puckhandling and passing drills for at least another 30-minutes, and then we’ll don in-line skates and do just about anything we’d normally do on the ice — from skills training to tactical stuff.  And, when I want to introduce something new to our playing system, this is the time and place where I can do that without feeling rushed.

Tumbling for Athleticism

Oh, and there’s one other good thing about this kind of training atmosphere…  Like most of our off-season off-ice sessions, I get to observe my kids without all their heavy ice hockey gear.  Minus that stuff, I can usually tell how athletic a player is.  And, when they’re dressed very lightly — like in shorts and t-shirts, I can usually gain a better sense of where they are in their physical development.

As an example of the latter…  A number of years ago a young goaltender joined our junior high school team looking like he’d never done any sort of physical exercise.  (Like, his legs resembled a pair of straight stove pipes, with no kind of muscular shape whatsoever.)  Unbelievably, 3-years later this kid was a physical specimen.  I mean, he really took to our way of doing things, he worked his butt off, and his body showed the results of his efforts with drastically improved play and a truly athletic looking body.

My guess is that a coach who hasn’t had the chance to observe his or her players in this way wouldn’t have ever noticed something like the above.  (Of course, if the coach isn’t using some of the things I use, it’s quite possible he or she wouldn’t be able to affect those kind of changes anyway.)

*

Well, after that awesome article about my grandson appeared in the local paper last night, I’ve been silently praying Anthony Chighisola would do well in his game against nearby Stonehill College today.   Tony C did his thing, though,  notching the game’s first goal, and then adding another goal and 2-assists in his team’s 7-4 win.  Actually, Anthony’s line accounted for all 7-goals, and this first score gave him 50 career points as just a sophomore.  (And, phew…  At least tomorrow’s newspaper ought to have some decent stuff to report on my young buddy.)

Thankfully, I got to see 2-periods of that game, between the off-ice practice and a 4:30pm game down in the New Bedford (MA) Junior High School League.

It was a downer that I had to miss my Mighty Mites’ game that was scheduled for Hingham, MA, at 2:40pm.  (No way I could have coached that game up north, and still made my junior high game about an hour+ to the south.)  Thank God I’ve groomed some really good assistant coaches to run the little guys in my absence.

*

Bummer, but my Jr HS kids lost a nip-and-tuck game with just seconds to go.  We’d kept on coming back all night, initially digging ourselves out of a 4-1 hole.  But, we did lose it in the very end, 6-5.

I’ll tell you, though, my kids are really coming along, and this is in accordance with a plan I’ve designed for each.

You see, my main goal is to get these kids onto the high school team of their choice (which means winning games is secondary to their development).  So, while some of my youngsters are a couple of years away from that challenge, a few have to be ready a little less than a year from now.

That said, at least two of my 8th graders have started to look like they’re ready to make the leap…  Both of them made some big-time plays tonight.  And, on two different occasions I told each boy that his was a “high school goal”.  (Or, in CoachChic.com jargon, we might say that they were true “highlight reel goals”!)

*

Speaking of my junior high school kids and CoachChic.com…  I have a special section over there where I share some of the notes or observations I make about our games.  (I do the same for my HS Prep guys while they’re with me, and I even do it for my little Mighty Mites.  Usually these are things I’ll want to deal with in future practices, things that need correcting, or maybe parts of the game we’ll need to talk about.

Among tonight’s notes…

– I have to re-establish a drill we do in warm-ups, because my defensemen are definitely not handling their man in the slot and clearing the view for their goaltender.  I’d put that drill into our pre-game routine so that certain things would be constantly reinforced.  However, the kids’ sloughing-off in that drill is leading them to also not do the job when the game begins.

– We have gotten away from “finishing checks”.  And, in case you don’t know what I mean by this, anyone playing an enemy puckcarrier has to follow-through — or body-check or tie-up his man momentarily — after that man gives-up the puck.  The idea is to prevent that opponent from jumping back into the play.

– I then wrote myself a reminder to return to a drill I’d been using to help my “D” on 1 on 1 rushes, this called “stick-on-stick”.  I’ve been planning to explain that soon in a CoachChic.com post, but now I have a very good reason to get it done now-ish.

*

Well, that’s it for me tonight, because I have to rest-up for Day Two at the Hockey Wars!

3 – Any Day in Hockey is a Good One

January 30, 2010

Yes, any day in hockey is good, even if the windchill factor outside is going to be somewhere between 15 and 20 degrees below zero (F) around the Boston area tonight! Brrrrrrrrr…

*

Tony Chic – Franklin Pierce University

If you want to know something that makes me very proud and sorta makes my day, please take a peek at this very short article on my grandson, Anthony Chighisola, a sophomore hockey player at Franklin Pierce University. (It doesn’t hurt that my young buddy also carries about a 3.5 GPA!) What prompted this newspaper entry in The Brockton Enterprise is the fact that Tony C is coming from New Hampshire to play closer to home, and against the team I coached for 7-years (Stonehill College).

*

Because today didn’t include any outside commitments at rinks, I’ve been able to spend most of my time on administrative things and some Internet work. My CoachChic.com website benefited from the free time, as I finally connected this blog and also updated the area where I tell members and visitors what kind of posts are Coming. You really ought to take a browse through that section every once in awhile, just to know what you might be missing.

*

The other night I gave a gift of a shoulder strengthening device to a local college trainer. I left it with her to play with for awhile, and I heard later that she was showing it to anyone who would look and listen. I knew she’d appreciate the device — and I also sensed she’d respond that way, mainly because I’d attended many of my Phys Ed college classes with young men and women who were working to become athletic trainers. (I guess a lot like me, they truly DO love their work!)

Strengthen the External Rotators

Anyway, while that young lady was psyched about being able to help some of her current athletes who have shoulder injuries, I’m just as impressed at this device’s potential for stretching and stretching the shoulder area BEFORE an injury occurs. (And, while older hockey players surely do get their share of shoulder injuries, I’m picturing how much baseball players, tennis players and football quarterbacks are going to like this device.)

By the way, I’ve just negotiated with the inventor of that gadgets, and I hope to offer it within a few days in our new CoachChic.com Store.

*

I think Dee Karl loves me (LOL). That’s right (or at least that’s what she said at the end of her latest blog post)! Ya, Dee pens an awesome NY Islanders’ blog, Hockey Buzz. And, while you ought to read her on a regular basis if you like those Isles, you should also see why she loves this twice-her-age old coach so much! 🙂

*

Having just mentioned the new CoachChic.com Store, I guess I should also note some good and some not-so-good news…

On the sad side, my Facebook friend, Valerie G (at the urging of her husband), wrote me to share a story about two players who had been injured recently during local high school hockey games. I’m not going to (get morbid and) share the link here, but I will say that the two boys — from the same team — collided with the boards a couple of nights apart. The second injury was bad enough, as that player sustained a concussion. His teammate might be even worse-off, as doctors, family and friends pray he’ll be able to walk again. Darn.

The irony to all this, and the good side (if there can be one)… Currently, I have some of my very young Mighty Mite players wearing special collars aimed at limiting the kinds of spinal or neck injuries that commonly happen in collisions with the boards. I especially like those collars because I believe there’s a teaching component to wearing them (or a player learns to skate with his or her head up). The reason I’m starting with my youngest players is because I sense they’re the kind of things players almost have to grow-up with.

Anyway, like that shoulder gadget, the collars should be available in our Store within a few days. (Both, by the way, are EXTREMELY inexpensive.)

*

Well, I have one more duty to perform before I head to bed tonight. I’d promised myself a month ago that I was going to trade-in the canvas bag I carry the Mighty Mites’ blue pucks in. So, I have to doctor a small bucket for that, a lot like the one I carry my Team NEHI game pucks in.

*

Oh, tomorrow morning starts the weekend, or what I jokingly refer to as two days at the “hockey wars”. (That’s what I’ll tell Raggs the cockerpoo tomorrow morning, as in, “See ya later, buddy…  Gramps is off to the hockey wars!”) Yes, hockey dominates my weekends, with 5 different rink trips head of me — to clinics, practices and games! I’m not complaining, though, ’cause “Any Day in Hockey is a Good One”!

PS: My Twitter friends and I are constantly talking about “multi-tasking”. And I do a lot of that as I drive from rink to rink, especially listening to podcasts I’ve previously found on-line and burned to CD.

2 – A Sample Day in the Life of a Hockey Coach

January 28, 2010

🙂 Well, not just any hockey coach…

Ya, my work is a little different than most other ice hockey coaches. As a matter of fact, I don’t even limit myself to ice hockey, because I’m BIG into the use of in-lines as a means of cross-training, and I even occasionally work with guys (and sometimes gals) who are strictly roller hockey players. (Jerry Z is just such a roller player, and he’s featured often over at CoachChic.com, as I help him move from relative beginner status. As I say often to my ice hockey members, though, they could learn a lot from the way I analyze and troubleshoot Jerry’s development.)

Now, time management gurus are telling me I start my day wrongly, wading through email right off the bat. I started that practice a lot of years ago, actually beginning and ending my day by checking for important messages. Back then, however, I’d only have a handful of mail at a time. But, want to know what my mailbox reads right this minute? Gulp… 985. So, while I might nowadays take a little time to answer you on-line, perhaps you’ll understand.

I keep a diary — faithfully, and I transfer the things I need to do each day to a little piece of paper I’ve dubbed my “LTS” (don’t ask) slip. Anyone who knows me knows if I enter something into my diary or onto that LTS, it is ultimately going to get done. And, anyone who knows me also knows I absolutely hate paperwork. Oh, I love teaching/coaching; it’s just the administrative side of it that stinks (at least to me).

*

North Shore (MA) skills coach, Joyce Morin Strong, offered an interesting question this morning: “If you could tell a young hockey player one thing about how to be successful in hockey, what would it be?” I found the Facebook exchange (among about 24 replies) very interesting, and I hope you will, too.

*

CoachChic.com members should love the new posts that are scheduled to appear this weekend…

– I tried to accommodate a member a week or so back by giving him a pretty good “head-manning” drill. I wasn’t totally satisfied with my answer. It so happens, though, that I invented a beauty for my junior high school kids the other day, and I’ll try to get that up in the Drills section by tomorrow night.

– Saturday morning is going to bring an awesome article by NDA Head Hockey Coach (and our NEHI goalie coach), Todd Jacobson. It’s called “Reflections of a High School Hockey Coach”. My guess is that coaches, parents and high school aged players are going to get a lot from that.

THE Bobby Orr Move

– Going back about a decade, I’ve taught my players a move made famous by the great Bobby Orr. So, I found a video of Orr demonstrating what I’ve dubbed the “THE Bobby Orr Move”. I’ve gathered some footage of my young teenage players doing to it (pretty nicely), and I’ve broken the move into 4 fairly easy-to-do steps. By all means, defensemen should know how to do this, but it’s also a great move for forwards to use on the attack.

*

Of course, I spent a good part of today building this blog (under the hood, behind the scenes and all). In between, however, I had the time to meet a new Twitter friend, Sarah C. As it turns out, Sarah runs her own — mostly Boston Bruins related — blog (Tea Party Throwdown). She’s also just learning to play hockey, and we’re discussing ways I might help her with that, perhaps as I’m now doing with Jerry Z.

*

Well, it’s almost midnight here in the east. I’m hardly done, though… I’m building a very interesting kind of “store” for the CoachChic.com site, and that’s really, really a tough project. So, I’ll likely stay with that until my head bangs-off my PC keyboard, sometime in the wee hours, I suspect. 🙂

Night, hockey fans.

1- Welcome to MY World

January 28, 2010

My little Mighty Mites!

Let me begin by saying that this (blog) idea has been on my mind for a long, long time. Or, should I say, I’ve been wrestling in my head for a very long time for a way to communicate with all my hockey friends without disrupting the rhythm of our CoachChic.com website. Truly, I want to reserve that site for the meat and potatoes of our game, or all the tips, tricks and training shortcuts I and a host of other specialists can gather.

*

Oh, in case you’re new here, and you don’t know about CoachChic.com, it’s my pride and joy, and what I think is fast become the world’s largest hockey resource site. (This weekend, after about a year on-line, we should hit 300 total posts — including articles and videos.) Anyway, even if you’re not a member, I always try to leave lots of great content open and Free to Non-members. So, take a visit when you get a chance.

*

So, what can you expect from Coach Chic’s Hockey Diary? Well, I’m kinda hoping you’ll find it interesting the things an ice hockey coach might do during the course of a day (and sometimes long into the night).

For sure, I’m going to do a little musing here, some daydreaming at times, and probably a bit of wishful thinking, too.

*

Nearly every day I am talking with some pretty interesting hockey people, and now I’ll have the opportunity to share such things with you.

I’m also big into social media, so you’re especially going to read here about some fascinating people I meet in my cyber travels, and some pretty sharp guys and gals to follow — on Twitter and on Facebook. I’ve linked those two sites because I’d love for you to connect with me in either or both spots.

*

Going back to CoachChic.com for a moment… It struck me recently that this blog would be a great venue within which I can give you a heads-up on certain things members can look forward to over there. So, in a way, it eventually will replace the Announcements page and The Latest News.

*

By the way… Like any blog (including CoachChic.com), you can be immediately notified about a new post just by using a service like Bloglines (<= just click on the link).

Also, like any other blog, I’m really helped when you leave a Comment about a given post. So, don’t be shy; please say hello and share some of your thoughts with me.

Okay, I guess that’s it for my first-time post here. Next on tap, I’ll introduce you to “a day in the life of a hockey coach”. 🙂