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Kneeing – My Thoughts…

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts

One of the worst (and most dangerous) plays in hockey is kneeing.  When a player sticks his or her leg/knee out to try and trip up an opponent, the injury potential is tremendous.  In USA Hockey, Rule 610 outlines the penalty for kneeing:

Elbowing or Kneeing

(a) A minor or a major penalty shall be imposed on any player who uses his elbow or knee in such a manner as to in any way foul an opponent.

(b) A major plus a game misconduct penalty shall be imposed on any player who injures an opponent as the result of a foul committed by elbowing or kneeing.

Personally, I would like to see the penalties for kneeing more closely match those of checking from behind. An automatic 2 min minor plus 10 minute misconduct apply for anyone who checks an opponent from behind – with the option for a 5 min major + game misconduct for injury potential plays.  I fully agree with these penalties – I think it’s essential to help keep our game safe for the players involved.  What I struggle to understand is how kneeing is looked upon differently.  When a player checks another person from behind, the only person who will likely get hurt is the one getting hit.  However, when a player sticks his/her leg out (kneeing), both players run a serious risk of injury!  As with a check from behind, the risk of long-term injuries here are great – and this must be eliminated from the game.  Nobody wants to see players injured by careless play.  If we treat kneeing as a high-priority, and increase the penalties for it, hopefully we can eliminate this dangerous play from the game and keep even more kids on the ice.

Skate hard & keep your head up.  See you around the rinks.


Happy Thanksgiving

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Uncategorized

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! We’re all blessed to have the great game of hockey in our lives, but that’s just the beginning. Enjoy the time with family and/or friends.  God Bless.

Skate hard & keep your head up!


For fun, I’ve put together some links of friends and supporters.  Take a look at their sites – hope you enjoy them!

NiceRink – The World’s Best Backyard Ice Rinks! – www.nicerink.com
Puckmasters Lake Bluff – Private Hockey Instruction on Plastic – www.puckmasterslakebluff.com
Sports Stomping Ground – Sports news focused on the Detroit area – www.sportsstompingground.com


Half-Pivot Video

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Drills,Instructional Video

Here’s the latest video courtesy of HockeyShare & M2 Hockey.  In this video we cover a simple skating drill called half-pivots.  This is a great drill to develop footwork and edge/transition power in your defensemen.


Inspirational Video

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Uncategorized

Here’s an inspirational video I watched earlier today and thought I’d share.   Enjoy.


Team Building Resources

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about some good exercises / games to help bring your team closer.  Here are some links to team building resources I’ve found helpful:

USA Hockey Team Building
Team Building Activities, Initiative Games, & Problem Solving Exercises
Group Games
Brain Teasers

    If you’ve got some other resources you think I should list, drop me an email and I’ll get them added here.


    The Mental Game

    Often as coaches we get caught up in the development of the physical skills needed to play the great game of hockey.  There is no denying it’s important to spend a lot of time on this – but it seems often times we overlook one of the most important aspects of the game…mental preparation.

    In order to play this game, a person has to be physically and mentally tough.  Hockey is the fastest of the major sports.  The best in the sport can skate approximately 30 mph.  A player moving at 30 mph covers 44 feet per second.  At this speed, it would take just over 3 seconds for a player to skate from one end zone face-off dot to the other dot on the far end of the rink.  Most midget hockey players can complete that same distance (approximately 140 feet) from a dead-stop in 5-6 seconds.  At 6 seconds, this averages out to be about 23.3 feet per second – 28 feet per second at 5 seconds.

    Ice Hockey Rink 140 Foot Sprint

    Ice Hockey Rink 140 Foot Sprint

    If the average midget hockey player can execute this, they have the physical skills necessary to perform the strides down the ice….but this is just the beginning.  In those 5-6 seconds, many decisions need to be made.  What path do I need to skate? Where is the puck? Am I going to stay on sides? Should I drive the net? Where is the defender? Should I call for a pass?  One or two hands on the stick?  How can we expect youth hockey players to effectively make the best decisions (so they become second nature) without spending time developing these players mentally?

    One of the toughest things to watch is a player who is afraid to make a mistake.  This player has been mentally conditioned to associate pain with a mistake on the ice.  This can come from several sources, but most often comes from a coach or parent.  If a coach berates a player for making a mistake, what are the odds the player will try something next time outside of his/her “safe” play zone?  While some coaches may say that’s exactly what they want, others (myself included) would argue great hockey players aren’t made by making only safe plays.  Players need to be given some freedoms to try something new and make mistakes – it’s how we learn…not just a hockey players, but as human beings.  As coaches we must keep that balance in mind between making a simple/safe play and allowing players to make mistakes – without discouraging creativity.

    Hockey also requires a unique mental toughness.  In order to set oneself up for success, one must got to be able to mentally prepare to perform at your peak level.  One of the most important aspects of mental preparation coaches can develop is goal setting.  The game of hockey is only effective as a competitive sport because everyone playing it has a common goal….to put the puck in the opposing team’s net!  How can you expect yourself or your players to perform an entire season without clear-cut goals in front of them?  These need to be something more than just: “Win the League” or “Win the National Tournament”.  These goals are obvious – every team / player wants to finish at the top – but vague goals usually lead to sub-par performances.  Goals must be clearly identified and broken down into smaller measurable chunks.  For example:  1 month goal – get 10 of 14 points in league play.  This is an easily measurable goal (make sure it’s realistic for your own team).  Once you’ve established your goals, there needs to be some sort of action plan so you and your team know exactly how they can put themselves in the best position to achieve the goal.

    Finally, the mental state a player enters the rink with is one of the most critical parts of the mental game.  If a player is in a poor mental state (distracted, unfocused, nervous, sad, etc.), the chances of them performing at a high physical level are greatly reduced.  If the player isn’t enjoying him/herself when they get to the rink, you’re not likely to have that player live up to your expectations.  Even at the highest levels of the game, coaches work fun into their routines.  Basic human nature craves variety – coaches cannot make going to the rink drudgery for players.  The players simply won’t perform.  There are several ways to incorporate fun into your practice routine.  The first is through the use of small area games.  These games not only develop players quicker than most skill drills, but are also a lot of fun for players because they get to compete.   Another option is the use of unstructured ice time.  Even though ice time is very usually very expensive, kids need to be kids.  Give them opportunities to play around in an unstructured environment.

    If you’re interested in finding more ways to train your players mentally, there are a couple great books I found helpful.  The first is Hockey Tough as the name indicates, it’s geared directly toward hockey.  It covers lots of great topics: Managing the Mental Game, Imaging, Controlling Emotions, Playing a Winning Team Game, and more.

    The second book I recommend is In Pursuit of Excellence – 4th Edition.  This book covers “how to win in sport and life through mental training.”  This book dives deep into the self-preparation side of things – including: Distraction Control, Positive Images, Goals, Commitments, Resilience, Coaching Relationships, and more.

    Skate hard & keep your head up! See you around the rinks.


    October 2009 Practice Plans

    Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Practice Plans

    Here are the PDF downloadable practice plans for all my practices in October, 2009.

    Practice Plan for 10/01/09
    Practice Plan for 10/06/09
    Dryland Plan for 10/06/09
    Practice Plan for 10/07/09
    Practice Plan for 10/08/09
    Practice Plan for 10/13/09
    Dryland Plan for 10/13/09
    Practice Plan for 10/15/09
    Practice Plan for 10/20/09
    Practice Plan for 10/21/09
    Practice Plan for 10/22/09
    Practice Plan for 10/27/09
    Practice Plan for 10/29/09
    Dryland Plan for 10/29/09



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