A blog dedicated to the fact you cannot make an NHLer,

Obviously you see the sarcasm in my blog name. This blog is about teaching the love of the game, the skills of the game and hopefully open some eyes to the crazy parents that think they can push their kid into becoming a star only to have the opposite happen or be the limiting factor in their kids hockey development. Remember, if you turn hockey from a game into a job, then all is lost and kids will drop out either physically or mentally.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

We are going to skate the other team into the ground!!!

Now for a big pet peeve of mine. Coaches that focus on conditioning too much. I know, I know......I saw miracle on ice but if you think treating a bunch of kids like O lympic trained athletes will bring you to the league final, then I hope you like losing a whole bunch of games, and respect from your players.

"Well, you know good conditioning can make up for a lack of talent, we can out work the other team"
Lack of talent??? If you are currently coaching at an elite level, I will let you use this excuse as long as you are also equipping your team with a system that fits the skill level you have gotten with the team. If you are coaching kids lack of talent means you have to work harder, not the kids. Step up and be the coach that recognizes the gaps and helps his players bridge them.

Teaching kids the proper skills, techniques and knowledge will always win out in the long run.
Ever go what a really good old timers team ( you know, like the NHL old timers who tour around). They play teams that are younger with better conditioning and work harder. Who always wins and it doesn't even look like they are trying? The old timers, because they have the skill, technique and knowledge that allows them to work smarter and not harder.

Now you may give up a win or two during the season, but you will have a better team than what you started with and wins will come without that being the focus.

Another thing to note is that any endurance drills (eg lines, herbies or whistle blows) will fatigue the player and have him practicing skating with poor technique. If that is the norm of your practice then all you are re-enforcing poor technique and that will hurt your team more than anything.

How can I put some conditioning into my practice?

Interval Training.

  1. Keep hard skating to under 30 seconds at a time, give time to rest and go back at it.
  2. In corporate lots of competition in your practices with games that pit the players against each other, the clock or the coaches ( make some fun games, not fighting)
  3. Use up tempo drills.
Moral of this article: When your players play, it fatigue the reason they are struggling or is it related to them working harder and not smarter? Work on Technique and Skills first, the conditioning can always be done, but teaching motor skills is way harder once they are 20 years old versus 8 years old.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

You gotta take em at the Blue line!!!

Okay we have all heard this before, but what does it really mean?

First, it means kids will be confused and will make up their own meaning leading to a lot of missed checks and putting themselves out of the play and out of position.

Kids will usually see someone coming down on them and immediately lunge at them when they hit the blue line since that is what coach wants, right?

WRONG!!!! Gap Control is what they really mean. Gap control is the art of slowly narrowing the space between you (the defenseman) and the the forward. The key is narrowing the gap until you are close enough to hit him an not miss. The other thing that will help is to always keep to the inside so the forward has to go wide and then you have the boards as your helper.

How do we practice this???

This is easy to practice in a couple of ways:

  1. practice in 1 on 1 drills, but do not tell the forwards about gap control (this way the forwards will not usually try to vary speeds and make it harder on the d-man)
  2. practice in 1 on 1 drills with no pucks to focus on the man to man coverage (they always concentrate on taking the man when there is no chance of them making a move)
  3. practice in 1 on 1 drills with an emphasis that the forward must go to the boards without and worry on whether the defenseman hits him or not. (this emphasizes that they need to go wide and if they miss the forwards have longer to get to the net and less space)
  4. practice in 1 on 1 drills where the defenseman's only goal is to touch the forwards crest on his jersey. (this emphasizes gap control with keeping in front of the forward.)
  5. practice in 1 on 1 drills with the various gaps to start with between the d-man and the forward. ( gap control is different in every play in a game, so it only makes sense.)
  6. practice in 1 on 1 drills where the defenseman must attempt 2 or more poke checks on the forward (this will force the defenseman to keep in front of the forward.)
Remember be creative, make it fun for the kids. You could use flag football flags on one side of either the forward or d-man that would really have them protecting one side of the ice. Remember take things that you know can be turned into a game and make them your own, give it a stupid name and make it a competition. The kids will be asking to do it and will be skating harder than any set of lines.

How to make your stride longer.

I see some skaters and their stride is a thing of beauty. Now some coaches and parents see their kid as a choppy skater and figure that is just the way it is.
If that was true, great skaters would be no where to be found.
Go to a beginners skating class and you will see what I mean. It is just a bunch of kids learning to get up and walk on their skates.
What can you do to lengthen out that stride? I got good news and bad news.
Good News - All you have to do is increase leg strength.
Bad News - All you have to do in increase leg strength.

Good News

The stride length is directly related to how deep your crouch is, look at any powerful skater in the NHL, Olympics, and even speed skaters. You will see 90 degree knee flex with knees out in front of the ankles. One easy was to work on this is to to build you leg muscles by building strength in the crouch position. Sitting in the crouch position, squats and lunges are a great way to start. When you go to take a stride, going down into this deep crouch will give you power and length in your stride. Ever watch the fastest skater competition and you will see it plain as day.

Bad News

Increasing leg strength is pretty limited in kids, until after puberty. So unless you are feeding your kids steroids, just work on good technique for skating and they can do some leg exercises without weight to increase their strength. Work on balance and making the stride more efficient rather than working on something that is easy to work on with testosterone on your side.

So next time you see a choppy skater, take a closer look, are they just in a grow spurt? Are they a skinny kid who does not have the strength to support a deep crouch.

Moral of this article: If you want a longer stride increase leg strength for a deeper crouch. If you have not hit puberty, work more on technique and balance.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Welcome to my Blog, hopefully you realize that my title is sarcastic. I believe the exact opposite, nhlers are not made, don't let anyone take credit. Making the NHL is about passion. All we can do as parents and coaching is to NOT ruin kids development. I will go deeper into this with posts in further blogs, but the idea that some can make there kid into a NHL player is absurd and anyone who tells you otherwise probably should not coach or teach kids hockey.