Kevin from HockeyShare.com was recently featured on a podcast from Weiss Tech Hockey. Founder of Weiss Tech Hockey, Jeremy Weiss, and Kevin Muller discuss in-depth strategies for the off-season from both a player and coach standpoint.
Those coaching youth hockey in the US this season were faced with new requirements in order to maintain certification. Coaches – regardless of level or experience – are now required to take an age-specific online module in addition to the regular certification requirements.
Getting a team to gel together can be a big task if you’ve got a lot of new players on your team. Below is a list of ten ideas to improve your team’s chemistry early in the season.
Early Season Tournament/Road Trip – ideally, pick a tournament where you’re out of your home town and parents/players must stay in a hotel. This lets players get to know each other away from the rink setting, and gives parents time to socialize in the evenings. If you’re in a hotel and have time between games, try planning a team “pot-luck” lunch/dinner where players are required to attend as opposed to everyone heading their own direction for meals.
Ropes Courses – a ropes course will force players to work together as a team to achieve a common goal – just like in the season. It will also force some players to address their fears (especially if you’re doing a high ropes course) and get support from their teammates.
Team Building Activities – choose a day and location away from the rink and plan group challenges (mental as well as physical). Activities that force players to communicate and interact are excellent in establishing trust among teammates. For some ideas on activities, check out our blog post on Team Building Resources.
Team Cook Out – this can be done at the rink, or if a parent is kind enough to open their home, at a family’s house. Ideally there would be an activity the players can do (pool, ping pong, swimming, etc.) which will focus them to one area. Avoid allowing video games to be the central focus, as the amount of communication and group interaction is severely lessened.
Change Locker Room Seats – players love to get into a routine and sit next to their buddies in the locker room. This can be okay as the season progresses, but if you’ve got a team with a lot of new skaters, forcing players to sit in different locations will cause them to talk with and get to know people outside their small clique.
Paint Balling - not every team will have access to this, but teams that do will find that their players will enjoy the competition and have a great time being together away from the rink. You could also plan for a team cookout after the paint balling event!
Team Workout – you see this in the NHL quite a bit – players and coaches will do team runs, bike rides, canoeing, etc. Although it may not be quite as much fun as some of the other activities listed above, you’ll be getting the group together and also helping their overall conditioning.
Mix Lines / D Partners – early in the season, forcing players to play with skaters other than the one or two players they’re used to will not only get players to work together and communicate, but will prepare older players for future tryout camps where they’ll be playing with skaters they’ve never played with before.
Team Video – have some fun with this one – especially early in the season. Instead of doing game tape review or something expected, have some fun and watch an entertaining video or movie. Maybe even get some pizzas for the players (without telling them). For older groups, The Tournament is a great choice. For younger groups, Miracle may be a better idea.
Personal Information – before or after a practice, hold a team gathering in the locker room and have players get up and introduce themselves one-by-one. It is also helpful to have 3 or 4 questions they need to answer while it is their turn. Simple questions like the following tend to work well: favorite hockey team, one thing we didn’t know about you, home town, etc.
Do you have another idea to add to the list? Leave a comment below to contribute! Good luck this season!
As many clubs enter the most stressful time of the year – tryouts – I wanted to share a few thoughts on factors coaches consider when making decisions. The talent aspect is obvious – talented players are what coaches look for on the ice when it comes to performance, but there are other aspects coaches use to make their final decisions. Here is a list of a few:
Coachability – can the player take direction, or does the player think he/she “knows it all”? This is arguably the most important quality of a player – even above talent.
Work Ethic – is the player inherently lazy, or do they give you full effort every time they’re on the ice? Lazy players make coaching more difficult and decreases the efficiency of the coach – he/she will need to focus more on getting an honest effort, rather than teaching.
Accountability – does the player have a good track record to showing up to all the practices, games, and team functions…or is there always a reason they can’t make it? When players miss practices, coaches are forced to revisit old topics instead of being able to build off them.
Club History – has the player been in the association for an extended period of time, or are they known for jumping from club to club every season? Coaches concerned about player development want players who will likely be with them for multiple years.
Team Fit – does the player’s style of play fit in with what the team needs? Teams don’t need 20 players who have amazing hands but will never go into a corner or finish a check. Good teams have players that fit different roles within the team. This is often where players with more talent can be passed by in favor of a player who possesses the skills needed to round out a team.
Other Coaches Recommendations – hockey is a small world. Coaches often look to previous coaches for advice. If a player was nothing but a pain for another coach, there’s a good chance the next coach down the road will know about it as well.
Parents – believe it or not, this can factor in to decisions. Are the player’s parents known for being a bit “crazy”? Did they openly bash the club, team, or coaching staff when things were not going well? Coaches are humans – like it or not, most coaches will take a player with a bit less talent, but a family who is supportive over a player with more talent, but has crazy parents.
Good luck to all the coaches, players, and parents as we begin the process of another great hockey season! ….and remember, sometimes the most important team is the one you DON’T make – those can be the ones that push you to a new level and force you to re-evaluate where you’re at and why you didn’t make it!
The summer is here, and many players are now enjoying the “off-season.” This is the time of year where good players become great. This time of year separates the players who are serious about the game, and those who are not. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked “what should my player do this summer” – and I’m sure many other coaches out there hear it all the time. I wanted to share some quick thoughts on how to approach the off-season.
USA Hockey will vote on a rule change in June, which would move the legal age for body checking from U12 (Peewee) to U14 (Bantam). This rule change has spurred a lot of discussion among coaches debating on whether or not it is the right move.
The new year is a time commonly associated with new resolutions. A new year brings a fresh mental start. In the first HockeyShare Blog Post of 2011, I’d like to solicit interaction from the community and find out what your Hockey New Year Resolutions are!
John C. Maxwell is one of the most well-known authorities on leadership teachings. While surfing for videos, I came across a brief interview he did about one of his books titled: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.
The vast majority of information on this site is geared toward the structured practice and implementation of hockey player development. For all the time we spend trying to “teach” the game to kids, we also need to understand the importance of allowing players to figure things out on their own.