Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day Two in the “Hockey Wars”

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, 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.)

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 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 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 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 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 Store until my eyelids fail me!)