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, September 30, 2010

Power Skating Arm Swing - common misunderstanding

The other day I saw a poster for a local powerskating school and it said"Your arms move forward (push and pull) and no side to side movement." I have not been to this power skating school, but it made me think of how we take to many concepts and ideas based on the resume's of some teachers base on how good of hockey player they were or where they coached before. While most are very knowledgeable, some are just rehashing the things that they were taught.

Since I have not been to this power skating school, I will not say they are doing it wrong, since they may be teaching the correct way. However, the wording is a bit confusing.

Here is my take on this whole arm swing:

Arm Swing. A lot skating power skating teachers are telling kids to push pull with the arms, but that is wrong. They are not 100 meter sprinters, they are skating. The key is the alignment of the arms and the legs, this may be the way they teach it but it sounds wrong from the description. The hand in front of the skater should be palm up and out in line with the center of gravity. The other arm aligns with the skating leg.
You can see how the force/power would be applied best in the diagrams below.

These are some notes from a study of NHL players.
· The correct shoulder (arm) movement for high performance skating is "side to side.", not forward-backward like a sprinter. When the leg pushes to the side the equal and opposite reaction is the shoulder (arm) moving to the side. This motion is confirmed by observation of high performance hockey players - clearly revealing that a side to side shoulder (arm) movement is used during straight skating/striding.
· Observation of forward and back (sprinter pump) shoulder movement shows that it causes a narrow stride. A narrow stride is characteristic of low performance skating.

Watch the video of the 2009 NHL fastest skater competition and you will spot what I mean right away, especially when they show the front back views.

Moral of this post:

When learning or being taught anything, think critically. The source is not always the best indicator of knowledge. Many NHLer's succeed in spite or their parenting or coaching, I am not saying many hockey schools teach the wrong things, most are terrific. Just remember to not be afraid to ask for explanations as to why things are done a specific way.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How to find the coach best for your kids development.

We all hear the horror stories about the bad coaches, but are they easy to pick out?
In hindsight, most signs are telling. But at the beginning things are not so easy. Make sure you know what you want in a coach, then go from there.

For me, kids developing is number 1. End of story.......everything else is just for the parents, association and coaches ego.

The question that every parent should ask the coach and the other parents at all levels of minor hockey:

  • If you coached a group of kids for 4 years and they never won a game, would you be ok with that, how would you rate the success of that team and yourself?
  • If you coached a group of kids for 4 years and they never won a game, but all of them got hockey scholarships to college, would you call that success?
The reaction is almost as telling as the answer, especially since the second question would most likely be met with "That would never happen, you would win tons of games on a team with that much talent!"

Hopefully, at that point the light bulb would go off and the coach would realize that the chances of winning are pretty good when you have the top tier of kids on your team, but to get to that point does come with a price. Usually the price is failure.............lots of failure. This why we always seem true champions rise out of adversity and average people quit as soon as things get tough.

Now back to the questions and answers:

"Losing all the games would be tough on the kids, the parents would probably have me lynched after they got sick of losing"
  • Pressure is mostly perception, this coach might be fine, as long as he doesn't crack when the going gets tough, since he has not lost a game at this point and is already making excuses.
"Kids need to win to move on to the next level, they need to be show what it takes."
  • Stay away, unless this person has an amazing record for development of kids, they probably will be scared of this coach and we learn through failure and correction, not fear of failure.
"Wow, that would be amazing if one kid got a scholarship. You know how lucky you would have to be to have more than one???"
  • This coach's heart is in the right place, but they have already written off most of the team. You need someone who truly believes in the kids and has a plan to get them there.
"I would be so proud, it would be a lot of work and failure....if I can be a part of that development I would consider it my greatest coaching achievement. "
  • Chances are this coach already dreams of this happening. They constantly are learning and putting the kids first. Sometimes this involves tough love and kids being held accountable, but there best long term development comes first.

Moral of the post:

Think about who you want to coach your kids....not because you want them to become NHLers, but because you want them to be great at life and having all the lessons learned along the way to greatness make for an amazing journey.