Archive for July 2010

The Maturing of a Hockey Parent (Oh, boy!)

July 31, 2010

Aaaah…  I know I can’t explain that title in an intro sentence or even in a paragraph.  In the end, though, I hope you have a sense of what I’m getting at…

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Before getting into all that, have you every taken a browse through my VERY unique On-line Store?  We’re not talking sticks and skates and pucks here, ya know.  No, what you will find there are some training devices that you’ve probably never heard of before, or other things that are seemingly reserved for those in the know.  In fact, you’ll find some gear there that I’ve used (behind the scenes) for years.  So, take a look, huh?

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It was kind of neat to see the youthful faces of my young Mite AAA players the other night (and the just as youthful faces of their moms and dads).  For one thing, there’s the enthusiasm that comes with being as young as they, and there’s the naivety (meant in the nicest way) that comes with it, too.

What was new that night was my young team’s first experience with one of my off-ice strategies practices.  Ya, if you can appreciate it, it takes time to reason certain tactical decisions with players.  I mean to REALLY reason them out so that a given tactic makes sense, and so the players actually believe in doing things certain ways.

As an example, I asked the little group of 8-year olds if a “bad guy puckcarrier” would like us to come at him quickly or slowly.  Oh, I couldn’t blame the little rascals for not getting the question (and then the answer) immediately.  However, what we reasoned together was that an enemy puck-toter would rather that we approach him slowly, so that he can have all the time in the world to make a play.

Again, if you can picture what I mean by reasoning here, I didn’t give my kids the answer at all.  Naw, I just nudged them along slowly, so that it ultimately struck them that an enemy player in possession of the puck would hate it if we were in his face in a hurry.

Oh, I should say that the main theme of that night’s practice was about the forecheck we’ll use this coming season.  It begins with quick pressure on the puckcarrier, and it also requires our closest man on the puck to “steer” that guy in a specific direction that aids our formation and the next things we’ll try to do.

I ain’t telling you much more about those tactics, because some of our future opponents may be able to read.  :)

What I do want to describe is the further reasoning that came into play…  For example, I didn’t immediately give the kids an answer as to which way we should steer the rival puckcarrier.  No, I described some of the conditions that would exist as we move into our formation, and I pretty much left it to them to decide which way would be best.

Anyway, can you just envision the difference in my little guys’ understanding of the game already?  I mean, they’re going to ultimately do things in their games because they know them to be right, and they’re not going to do them because some grumpy old coach told them that’s the way he wants it.

I should also mention that I’ve now introduced our forecheck in three different ways…

First, I borrowed a video on the subject from CoachChic.com, and posted it on our team site.  So, in essence, the kids were able to study that as often as they wished prior to our first tactical practice.

Secondly, I spread my big Model Rink on the ground (shown above being used with my junior high school team), and placed 5 little movable “men” on the surface.  The kids huddled around closest to the rink, and I asked the parents to gather right behind them.  (As I mentioned to the adults, I’d like them to also know what we’re trying to do.)  I controlled the little men at first.  Then, once the kids had a sense of how our team should form-up in reference to where the puck was, I asked each team member to take his turn in moving all those little men into their proper places.  Oh, and by the way, for a very good reason, I asked each youngster to also explain to us WHY he was moving a given little man to a given location.

Next, we moved to a corner of the rink parking lot that formed a fairly decent offensive zone for us.  And I asked two assistant coaches to position themselves deep in the zone, as if they were the “bad guy defensemen”.  With that, my helpers took turns holding the puck as 5-man waves of my kids ran into the zone and assumed fairly good positions.  We did this a kzillion times, with those little guys ultimately even getting the hang of rotating their formation as the puck moved from one corner to the other.

Okay, so is there a lesson to be learned here — beyond what I’ve already shared?  Man, you betcha!

At the end of the night I asked our team parents if I was wise in doing all the talking and explaining (and reasoning) outdoors, as opposed to on ice that runs close to $300.  And thankfully, I saw all their heads nodding to the affirmative.  (Sadly, there ARE parents of young ones in the area right now who wouldn’t believe any of that.)

As an aside here…  I doubt folks in the stands notice it of me.  But, truth be known, I am a wreck when I’m in charge of ice-time, just because I know the rink clock is ticking away at something like $5 to $6 per minute.  (You never looked at it that way, huh?)  On the other hand, I am as relaxed as can be when I have the luxury of teaching the game away from the ice.

Yet another thing I shared with the parents is the way we humans need to experience new information through as many senses as possible.  And that’s what has been going on these past few days, as my kids watched and listened to the video, watched and then used my Model Rink and men, got involved with discussions and helped reason some decisions, and then finally got to apply what they’d learned out on the pavement.  (Trust me, in that taking this to the final progression — out on the ice — is going to be all the easier for all of us because of all that lead-up work we’ll have done.)

I even pointed out to the parents that each of us has a learning preference.  And, the way I tend to rotate different teaching methods makes it more likely that every team member will eventually “get it”.

The latter point kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it?  I mean there are coaches who exclusively use a greaseboard to teach.  And, of course, there are those who believe ice-time is the only way a kid can grow.  But, if you know that all players have different learning needs, you also know that a lot of kids get at least somewhat left out in the cold when only one or two presentation methods are used.

Darn, but I forgot to tell my parents one more thing Wednesday night…  Studies have proven that humans retain information longer and better when they get to experiences it through numerous senses.

Now, let’s fast-forward to my diary entries for the next night, Thursdays…  For, I’ll begin the early evening working with a group of Mite and Squirt kids in a combination off-ice and on-ice hockey school.  As I’ve described in a few earlier posts, we’re now in the off-ice phase where the kids are making HUGE gains in their skating, puckhandling, passing and shooting.  All the stuff we’re doing IS age-specific, though.  And it’s aimed at helping them over small humps and (subtly) paving the way for them to do some extremely advanced skills down the road.

I can’t emphasize those last two points enough.  I mean, a lot of parents are hoping their 6-year olds can do things like 15-year olds, and that could be a HUGE mistake.  In fact, I make a big deal out of that over on CoachChic.com, urging those in charge of the developmental levels to NEVER SKIP A SINGLE STEP.  (Man, just one  skipped step can cost a kid down the road.  Just take it from an old coach who has worked with top high school, college and pro players.)

With that, I wished I could have seen the faces of my young students and their parents as they were exiting the hockey school and noticing my High School Prep guys doing their sprint and agility training out on the lawn in front of the rink.

Talk about two different worlds.  Oh, both groups are doing age-specific stuff, but that’s exactly what makes those workouts so different.

My older guys will begin their workout with some dynamic stretching, they’ll get into footwork exercises on an agility ladder, they’ll do a number of rather stressful jumping and sprinting drills, and then they’ll go into their cooldowns.

The key word in all the above is “stressful”.  Ya, as in far too stressful for a young body to endure, but necessary for an older player who really wants a chance at the higher level game.

Okay, so what’s this thing about “the maturing of a hockey parent?  Hmmmm…

I guess the best way to explain it is to suggest that about a quarter to a third of my current group of young hockey parents will ultimately go awry.  (Listen, they all seem awesome right now, but I’m going on my observations over about 40-years in coaching, or my experiences working with about three different generations.)

I might also suggest that some of them will only go a little astray, while some will go off the deep end.  Some will do it sooner, while some will do it a little later.  You can write this down, though:  About a quarter to a third of them will ultimately lose their marbles.

In my case, it won’t matter that I’ve shown them a kzillion things they didn’t know; within a few years a percentage will still surpass me in hockey knowledge.  And, while I’ve had to tell the above from my own personal perspective, I can assure you that a third to a fourth of all parents will ultimately know more than any local coach, or even the likes of Toe Blake, Herb Brooks and Fred Shero.  Ya, it’s going to happen; you can trust me on that one.

In closing, my (educated?) guess is that most readers will see some humor in the above, while some others will at least take it with a grain of salt.  If you took offense to any of that, I think you’re going to need to see my next installment, this to include some funny (and sad) examples of what I’m getting at.

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If you’re starving for hockey talk during the current off-season, I highly recommend the hockey blogs listed over to the right on this site.  They’re all hand picked by yours truly, mainly because they feature some extremely dedicated writers.

Tops on the list is the All Habs hockey blog.  Aaaaaah…  As a kid, growing-up with the Original Six team league, I fell in love with a couple of the uniforms — especially those worn by Detroit and Montreal.  (There was always something exciting about those colorful sweaters, unlike the less so jerseys worn by my hometown idols, the Bruins.)

When it came to tradition, you couldn’t beat the Habs.  Would you believe I saw The Rocket play?  And I also saw other stars of the 50’s and 6o’s — like “Boom Boom” Geffrion and Jacques Plante.

And if you take a browse through the All Habs blog, I think you’ll agree that it captures that tradition perfectly.  Oh, it’s not about the old days, but the feeling is still there (at least for me).  Actually, I could get lost in that site, and I’ll suggest that you will too.

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Don’t forget that this awesome deal ends within hours…

“Incredible Stickhandling” video

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Big(ish) Hockey Announcement!

July 24, 2010

My video on “Incredible Stickhandling” is now live!

And, there’s a special price and special bonus just for my CoachChic.com and Hockey Diary friends!

So, check it out (only 100 copies available at this cost)…

Incredible Stickhandling


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A Hockey School Revelation

July 21, 2010

As an introduction here, you may want to read my previous blog post, “Mites & Squirts Can Change REAL Fast!“.  For, the following revelation is in reference to some of my updated thinking on that little guys’ and gals’ program…

Subtitle: Even I Can Learn (at 105-years old — LOL)!

Hmmmm...

The third meeting of that school last night caused me to reflect all the more this morning on what I’d said in the earlier post.  And, right now, what I’m suspecting is that there might be something magical in the twice-per-week sessions incorporated in this hockey school.

Oh, I’m not calling myself a genius here; frankly, I may have lucked-into something.

You see, I think there have to be two main components to a program in order to achieve some positive results…

First, there has to be enough closeness in those sessions so that there’s a tendency for proper muscle memory to take hold.  In other words, the mind and body has to remember a given movement, and sort of build upon it.  (I guess what I’m trying to suggest is that a fair amount of closeness of a next session allows a player to pick-up where he or she left-off, while a long gap in there might cause him or her to waste a lot of the next session just trying to recall how the right movement feels.)

Secondly — and with all due regard for the first statement, I think there has to be enough time-off between sessions so that a player feels refreshed and excited again.  For, excitement is going to stir far more growth than is boredom.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I spaced our twice-per-week sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays to extend for about 6-weeks.  That leaves 4-days away from training leading-up to the Tuesdays — where we might lose a little on point one above, but gain some from point number two.  We only have a day-off leading to the Thursday sessions, which means we should gain greatly from point one, and perhaps lose just a little from point two.

Then, thinking about what I just said, doesn’t it make sense that I henceforth adjust my future lesson plans just slightly?  I mean, I think it’ll be wise for me to use Tuesdays as sort of a catch-up day (since we had a longer time-off), and I can look to go faster and to make some changes in our routine on Thursdays (because we’d only trained 2-days earlier).

Then, referring back to my subtitle…  I’m kinda glad I’m the way that I am — still learning at this stage of the game, I mean.  :)

Mites & Squirts Can Change Real Fast!

July 19, 2010

Yes, as the title suggests, “mite and squirt hockey players sure can change pretty quickly”.  Or, as I like to say, “Their young minds and bodies are just so malleable.”

Okay, right now I’m thinking about the young ones who reported to my first-time Mite & Squirt Summer Hockey School.  And, despite the way I opened this essay, I’m wondering why I was so pleasingly surprised at the progress my students made, even by the end of the very first day?  ???  I truly mean that; I was almost shocked.

Well, as a tip for other coaches and parents who like to help their youngsters, I think the following explains a little about why those little tykes progressed so fast:

  1. I might be old(ish), but I am definitely not stuck in the dark ages.  Naw, I analyze the game through my own pretty experienced eyes, and I incorporate what I discover along with what I know about motor learning and other sciences.
  2. Connected to the above point, I like to do MEANINGFUL drills, and I stay clear of the “vanilla types” that tend to look good but have almost no value.  (Youth practices — and even many so-called “powerskating courses” — are loaded with these.)
  3. Expounding more on those two points, I’ve always had a knack for recognizing an important skill, and then developing a series of easily do-able steps (or progressions) to get a player from where he or she is to where they need to be.

Okay, enough blabbering (although I did want to share with other coaches and hockey parents the things that go into developing MEANINGFUL lesson plans).

With that, I thought I’d give my faithful readers a little glimpse of at least some of what took place last week…

As I so often do, I began each session with shooting.  Kids today just don’t shoot enough, and most of them are far behind the generations I’ve previously worked with.  So, we just shoot and shoot and shoot.  (Oh, in the adjacent photo one of my young students is shooting a weighted puck.  And, due to that resistance, notice how he’s working to get his strength into the shot.  Yes!)

In another segment, we’re working on a number of puckhandling moves.  In this case, my student is executing a “wide dribble”, something that is really handy to pull on a defender or a goaltender.  (Yes, later in the session we practiced making that move against my SMG, or simulated goaler.)

Part of my surprise at the kids’ progress was how well they actually took to my Skater’s Rhythm-bar, an invention of mine that smooths the skating motion and also adds power.  It usually takes awhile for young ones to grasp the concepts of the R-bar.  However, notice these demonstrators looking pretty dawgoned good for about 8-years old!

I invented a group of stickhandling and athletic-type exercises built around using a batch of short sections of wood, and I ultimately dubbed that routine “Chop Stix”.  Here, one of my students is doing a nice job of handling the golf ball while also dealing with his balance on those stix.  Notice that his posture is much like what he’ll have to deal with in our crazy game.

Continuing with the puckhandling (a biggie with me), each of my kids spent time attempting to dribble 2 golf balls at a time around the floor.  This is a REALLY tricky skill, because those balls scatter fairly erratically.  Still, within a week or so, I sense they’ll all be able to handle 3-balls!

Here I’ve asked the kids to play a little game by paddling 2 or 3 tennis balls off the side boards.  (This youngster has progressed to where I’ve allowed him to try 3-balls!)  As I joked to one dad near rink-side, “It’s no accident when a player quickly reacts and bangs home a rebound!”  Yes, it can be practiced, and that’s what we’re doing here.

We practiced with the R-bars in numerous ways during the segment when we didn’t wear in-lines.  However, with plenty of repetitions under their belt, the entire class looked pretty good in their striding once they put their skates on.  🙂

Well, that’s it for a peek inside my Mite & Squirt School.  I’ll try to add more photos and write-ups as we go along.  And, I’ll also show and tell about when we eventually make the transition from the Lakeville, MA off-ice facility to the ice in Bridgewater, MA.

Oh, this PS: I’m going to expound some on the above over at the CoachChic.com site.  There, I have the capabilities of adding videos to my articles.  So, come on over if you’re a member.

Great Hockey Conditioning Ideas – Part 1

July 15, 2010

Several months ago, I tried something a little different, inviting CoachChic.com members to see if they could troubleshoot a certain hockey skill along with me.  I think we all had a ton of fun interacting (at least I did), so I’m hoping we might get something like that going again.

What I did today was start readers on the way towards some truly great hockey conditioning ideas.  It’s only Part 1, so I’ve given you a hint of what I’ll be covering in the next installment, I’ve included a short video demonstrating of one of the exercises my high school guys are currently doing, and then I’ve posed some questions in hopes of getting you involved.

Great Hockey Conditioning Ideas – Part 1

Again, this is all aimed at having some fun together, as well as offering me an opportunity to share some really good hockey conditioning ideas with you.

Oh, and three last things…

  1. I’m leaving this open to members and non-members (figuring the more involved the merrier);
  2. although the routine I’m going to share is recommended for teens through adults, I think even the parents and coaches of very young players will gain some great insight into this subject;
  3. hockey coaches are going to find this information extremely helpful, since I’ll be showing you how to condition an entire squad in a relatively short period of time.

So, once again, here’s the link to that new post and video…

Great Hockey Conditioning Ideas – Part 1

Does High School Hockey Matter?

July 14, 2010

Man, or ugh…  I received the above via my CoachChic.com website, and I’m still scratching my head about where to go with it (or how to answer).   The worst part was that I had no way to get back to the kind lady or gentleman who submitted it, which caused me to further scratch…  scratch…  scratch…

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Okay, so presuming I’m understanding that question rightly, I think there are two answers — one having to do with a player’s hockey, the other having to do with his or her social life.

Going first with the social side of things, I am going to suggest that making any select group within your peers is HUGE when you’re a teenager.  Oh, I’m not just talking hockey here, and I’m not even talking about a varsity sports team.  Rather, I think there can be a huge boost to a youngster’s ego or self-esteem if he or she achieves any sort of recognition — as a student, as a member of a special school club, or as a member of some outside-school organization (maybe like becoming an Eagle Scout).

If there’s a difference between the in-school and outside-school recognition, it’s that all a teen’s friends — or all his or her peers — are aware.

(I’m chuckling to myself right now, and I’m sure this is going to strike a chord with any other hockey parent, player or coach…)  Ya know, my grandson might be seen by a neighbor or two carrying his hockey stick and equipment bag out to his car on any Thursday night.  If they have a thought at all, it might be that he’s going to play pick-up at a local rink, or something like that.  They don’t have a clue that’s he’s going to play in a local pro/am league, and often playing with or against some current NHL-ers.  My point:  most of our hockey — outside the occasional media blurb — is done without classmates and casual friends even knowing.  The same is likely true when your local Mite or Pee Wee team wins a big tournament or whatever.  So again, it seems to me that only doing well at school aids the confidence among peers.

Actually, I’ve written on this subject a few times through the years, but I experienced this personally, having become a varsity member on two separate sport teams, as only a sophomore in high school.  And I can’t tell you what it meant to my confidence when seniors would wave to me in the hallways with a, “Hey, Chic!”  And, at a time in life when all of us humans feel on shaky ground, it wasn’t all THAT bad to have all the cheerleaders know my name too.

As an aside to this — having to do with confidence…  I’m readying to release a home puckhandling course, and a great deal of the promotional video is going to include some clips of my grandson playing hockey at the prep school he attended.  You may have seen the original video before but, as I’m showing rapid fire clips of him scoring goals and celebrating with teammates, I’m also suggesting that his puckhandling skills help him to enjoy the game far more than many other kids, and they also help to greatly boost belief in himself.  And, although this only remotely touches upon the above question, I just want to make the point about how important I believe confidence is.

By the way…  I fault parents of some young players for not looking ahead for their kids’ sake (they evidently have short memories of their own days in high school).  For sure, I can buy the line I hear thrown around so often, as in, “I’m not looking for my kid to make it to the NHL!”  At the same time, I think the same mentality leads their kids to having less than a great chance to just feel good about themselves in high school.

That out of the way, there are kids who love playing hockey, and they don’t want to too quickly be told that their organized days are suddenly over.  In other words, they might like to continue playing in college, be it at the Division I, II or III level (or even beyond).

With that, I’m going to suggest that different parts of the US offer different paths to continuing on.  In other words, while high school hockey might be big in Minnesota, Massachusetts and a few states surrounding them, serious hockey players in other areas might have to find different avenues to hone skills worthy of college acceptance.

In yet another aside, I’ve seen things change through the years in reference to preparing oneself for college hockey.  I mean, a few decades ago, we’d see 18-year old high school kids granted scholarships and even drafted by the NHL.  In more recent years, it’s hard for a kid to come straight out of high school to make even a Division III level team.

Owing to that latter point, current day hockey players almost always have to pay their dues — growing mentally and physically, and improving their study habits — by spending an extra year at a prep school or spending a year or so playing at the junior level.

If there’s a problem with the above, it’s that a junior program has to be able to find you — somehow, or you had to have had the chance to develop the skills and knowledge to make it through a junior program tryout.  Again considering the long established hockey hotbeds, high school hockey might provide that development and exposure.  In yet other areas, the same might be gained as a member of a very strong youth organization (or maybe through something like my High School Prep team).

Finally, ending as I began, I have to say that’s it’s difficult to completely answer the title question, without knowing the poser’s home base or his or her real purpose.  It seems to me, however, that making a high school varsity is imperative to at least certain members of my reading audience.

(Do you have a different opinion on this, or more to add?  Please drop me a Comment down below.)

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The always helpful secretary for our local Bridgewater Bandits program asked members to convey the following to anyone who might be interested.  So, this is from Bonnie:

As you may already be aware, the Bridgewater Bandits have welcomed some new teams for the ’10-’11 season. Coaches are adding the finishing touches to their teams before the hockey season starts in September.

Please take a moment to read the available positions on each team and forward this along to someone you may know that would be interested.  Your help in this matter is very much appreciated.

Mite Major AAA (02/03 Birthyear) Coach Chighisola — Email
-Goalie

Squirt Minor AAA (01 Birthyear) Coach Todd Shorrock 508-989-0831
– Forward
– Defenseman

Squirt Major AAA (00 Birthyear) Coach Schiappa 508-295-3562
– Alternate Goalie

Lady Bandits U10   Coach Alger 774-836-0700
-Goalie

Thank you!

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Just as a quick update…  I had my first night with that Mite & Squirt Summer Hockey School group, and those little ones, as always, were an absolute blast.  🙂  And, man, did they come a long ways, even in only 90-minutes!

We did a kzillion drills over that span, but I think most of the parents (and kids) were fascinated by my Skater’s Rhythm-bar.  It’s my invention (it has sold in about 5-countries), and it’s awesome for smoothing a skating motion and putting real power into any (beginner to pro) player’s stride.

I’m going to be writing more on the subject of those classes as time goes along, and I also plan on telling you more about my Rhythm-bar.  So, you won’t want to miss my future posts.


A Hockey USP for Coach Chic?

July 9, 2010

What, you don’t know what a “USP” is?  🙂

Well, in marketing circles, USP is short for one’s “Unique Selling Proposition”.  In other words, it’s what makes one person (or business) different from everyone else in his or her market.

Of course, if you haven’t had the need to do your own self-study, just trust me in the fact that it isn’t all that easy.  I mean, I can teach — and so can a lot of other hockey coaches; I can analyze skating and numerous other individual hockey skills, but so can some others.  So, if you get my drift, it can take a while to see through all the things you or I probably do well, and to ultimately arrive at whatever it is that sets either you or me apart from the kzillion others who do what we do.

Actually, maybe that’s why I have white hair at only 23-years old (LOL)!

Okay, at this point, I’d like to suggest a really non-scientific method of troubleshooting that always seems to eventually work for me (oh, boy, is it non-scientific).  Actually, it’s called my “Wait And Something Will Come to You Method”!  (Want to blame someone for my super-simplistic approach to truly difficult questions?  Just take a scan through my Father’s Day post, “A Thank You to My Dad“.)

Seriously, though…  Sometimes waiting actually does work.  I mean, the search for my own hockey USP was getting mind boggling.  And, I think the closer one is to his or her business, the more difficult it is to see clearly (as in the forest for the trees thingy).

Oh, just so you know, big-time business types would advise us to ask our customers (why they buy from us, why they stick with us, etc).  As for me, I have saved about the last 3- or 4-years worth of nice emails I’ve received from customers, and they make a valuable reference, for sure.  However, even though an afternoon of scanning through those letters did start giving me some hints, they really didn’t totally solve my problem.  And, that’s when I reverted to ye olde “Wait And Something Will Come to You Method”.

Now, before going any further here, let me once again remind you that those three letters (USP) stand for something very powerful — as in our (or henceforth my) Unique Selling Proposition.

The reason I referred back to that again is because my “Wait…” approach started kicking-in not long ago as I was doing some background work for several of my new programs.  Actually, it even started a little earlier as I was reviewing my free “You Don’t Need Ice!” video series.  Ya, late in that series I began advising viewers about certain things in a way that most others wouldn’t.  And that suggested to me something very different — or unique — about my approach.

As for my other hockey programs, though…

I had to recently develop an off-ice program so that my high school prep group could begin working in The MOTION Lab.  Oh, it would take me an hour here to describe how that went together.  However, the shortcut version points to my 1) evaluating all of my kids — including their strengths and needs, and then 2) plotting a course to bring them from where they are now to where they want to be for their respective school tryouts.  Is it easy?  Heck, no!  But, that is one thing that I do exceedingly well.

Not too differently from the latter challenge, I’ll soon be taking on a group of 6th through 9th graders in a program I call Personal Hockey Training.  Of course, their ages make them slightly different from my high school kids.  But, the real difference is that I’ll deal with them even more so as individuals.  Oh, there’s the same sort of assessment needed for each youngster.  There’s also that same need for me to plot a plan to enhance their strengths and to solve any glaring weaknesses.  Lastly, that plan will be an incremental one, designed to bring the kids a huge distance over about 10-ish months.

I’ll also soon be running a first-time summer hockey school for young players (Mites & Squirts).  Of course, unlike the other programs, I can’t beforehand assess each student.  But, about 40-something years of coaching suggests where I ought to begin in our first sessions.  And, thereafter I’ll make adjustments to my lesson plans to affect the greatest changes I can over our near 2-months together.

My final summertime job involves readying my new Mite AAA team for their coming winter playing schedule.

Now, you may be wondering why I didn’t say a whole lot more about the latter group, “my babies”.  Well, that’s because they are on the same course as my HS Prep team, except that the high school guys are a lot closer to the end-goal.  (I will get back to them, however, since they ultimately helped me solve a major part of my USP problem.)

Okay, I had BETTER explain that part about the similarities between my high school guys and a group of 8-year olds.  So…

There are obviously a lot of things that go into putting a team together — including individual skills and team tactics.

As a long-time skills analyst, I have it in my head how I’ll slowly help those young ones keep growing in their skating, puckhandling, passing and receiving, plus shooting.  And I’ve already begun inching them through the earliest progressions of these skills.

As for designing a system (or teaching tactics) for young ones, I’ll suggest that the basic elements will be the same as with any other team.  Oh, they’ll be adjusted for my little guys’ level, but that Mite system has to still include some sort of forecheck, some organized way to defend enemy rushes, a way of defending in our own zone, ways to break-out of our end and move the puck towards our opponents’ goal, and so forth.

If you get my drift, I’m suggesting that a breakout is a breakout, an attack play is still an attack play, and defending the 1 on 1 is no different from one level to another.  It’s just that I have to adjust where or how I’ll start a given group (like those Mites), and I’ll move through the progressions according to how the kids are doing.

Now, I went through all of that for what I feel is a very good reason…  You see, that “Wait And Something Will Come to You Method” started kicking-in as I was readying for my youngest team’s third practice of this summer.

For, it took me until our third time together for me to split that young squad into two groups, forwards and defensemen.  And, with that, I began planning how I’d teach those kids to play their positions — with skills, and with smarts.  (Yup, I respect 8-year olds as much as I do older guys, and I feel those little rascals are just as capable of playing a pretty skilled and pretty smart kind of game.)

Now, I obviously can’t go into too much detail here about how I’m covering all the bases with these young ones.  However, I can give you a couple of examples…

For the first few weeks, all of my kids have been playing a game I invented years ago, this called “Cat ‘n Mouse”.  There are a ton of advanced progressions to this drill, but the basic one calls for two players to play a game of tag around a net.  It’s awesome for any kids’ skating and reactions.  But, imagine this being a pretty good lead-up drill for a defenseman — I mean, with him learning to use the net to avoid an oncoming opponent.  So, while all of my kids work on that basic drill, the next progressions will ultimately be staples for my blueliners.

Oh, pretty shortly I’ll have one “D” start behind a net, he’ll just step-out in the direction opposite from where the chaser approaches, and he’ll be expected to then complete a nice, firm pass to a coach (who is acting as either a centerman or a winger on the breakout).

On our very first night together, I also showed my little guys how they could influence (or steer) a puckcarrier in any direction they wished.  Actually, I asked my assistant coaches to take turns holding a puck at mid-ice behind the goal line, and then I showed the kids how to approach from an angle from one side to make that puckcarrier go the other way.  I thought it beautiful that they all got the idea by about their second try, and they did even better at our second practice.  Of course, they didn’t have to know that I was going somewhere with that line of drilling.  However, by our third practice I was able to explain to our forwards that we were going to need to chase “bad guy” puckcarriers towards a corner in our games.  (That’s how our forecheck will begin.)  And, don’t you know, those little guys got the hang of that skill within minutes.

Now, I’m sorry I dragged you through all of this just to explain that USP thing.  However, over our earliest times together, I found myself quite a few times asking a specific question to my assistant coaches — as in, “Can you see where we’re going with this?”

Ya, that’s what I’d been “waiting” for for so long — to either get bonked over the head with the answer to what I do differently, or to tell myself when I wasn’t even thinking about a dawgoned USP.

Okay, so I’m going to have to do some polishing of this stuff.  But, I know now that I’m awesome at assessing where a hockey player is at a given moment in time, and I somehow know how to bring him or her (or a team) from Point A to Point B and so on.  What I realized from reviewing my “You don’t Need Ice!” video series is that I also have a knack for focusing on just a handful of things that can mean the greatest difference to a player.  As for that question I’ve frequently asked my assistants?  Aaaaah, that was the bonk over the head I needed, in that it made me realize that I never use meaningless drills; naw, every thing I do in a practice is “going somewhere”.

As I said above, I still have to clean it all up a bit.  And, while I know I’m now pretty close to my own unique selling proposition, perhaps I’ve given you some ideas towards creating your own.

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PS: A day after I did the rough draft for this post, I got hit by a little lightening (again)…  For, it seems the final piece to this puzzle has to include the fact that “customers get me” when they join one of my programs — heart and soul.

PPS: Not even thinking about the UPS, I had another “Aha!” moment this morning as I was readying to release a new on-line puckhandling course.  Ya, if you think about it, there are a number of these available on the internet or on DVD, and I can think of one vendor who really buzzes around the ice and dazzles us viewers.  (Good for him; actually, I know him, and he’s a good guy.)  However, that’s far from my style.  Oh, my promotional video is going to show some pretty spectacular moves.  But, they are going to be samples of my students actually performing awesome moves in real games.  The reason I don’t want all the flash and dash in my instructional video?  It’s because that’s where I actually teach (or where I apply my own, down-to-earth approach).

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To Repeat an Earlier Freebie Offer:

I’m making a few of my hockey programs free-to-try-for-a-night.  I figure there’s only one way for you to discover how different they are from anything else you’ve ever seen…

  • my High School Prep team, for very dedicated players from 9th grade to 12th;
  • the one where I’ll be a personal hockey trainer (PHT) for junior high school kids; and
  • the Mite & Squirt Summer Hockey School.

Here’s the deal… I need to be contacted by a parent as soon as possible (because these programs have already started or are about to start), and a parent has to be present as the player tries the given program.

My Cell:  (508) 208-2270
My Email:  coachchic@aol.com

Yet Another Freebie!

Those who subscribed to either my CoachChic.com or New England Hockey Institute mailing lists received what many have told me has been a huge in their off-season planning.  However, with the summer now underway, I’m going to soon be removing the “You Don’t Need Ice!” video series in favor of a new gift.  And, anyone who is already on either list will also receive that next gift.