Friday, July 29, 2011

I want to improve...Should I play more games or go to practices & clinics?

Let's look at some numbers-
The following facts and figures relate to a 60-minute practice session:
  • 1 efficient practice will give a player more skill development than 11 games collectively.
  • Each player should have a puck on his or her stick for 8 – 12 minutes.
  • Each player should have a minimum of 30 shots on goal.
  • Players will miss the net over 30% of the time in a minor hockey practice.
  • Coaches should try to run 4 – 5 different drills / games / activities each practice. More is not better; execution of what you do is development.
  • No more than 5 minutes should be spent in front of a teaching board each practice.
  • If you have 10 players on the ice, strive to keep 4 – 5 players moving at all times.
  • If you have 15 players on the ice, strive to keep 9 – 10 players moving at all times.
  • If you have 20 players on the ice, strive to keep 14 – 15 players moving at all times.
The following statistics were recorded during a 60-minute Peewee level hockey game:
  • Players will have the puck on their stick for an average of 8 seconds per game.
  • Players will take an average of 1 – 2 shots per game.
  • 99% of the feedback coaches give players is when they have the puck. Ironically players only have the puck on their stick for 0.2% of the game.
  • 1 efficient practice will give a player more skill development than 11 games collectively.

After each season I get feedback from parents and players about how they spent their off-season.  The old adage inevitably always applies.. Off-season preparation is what goes into having a successful "In-season". 

Parents will approach me and talk about how their son/ daughter played in this tournament, or this league... how they traveled to this "showcase".  Then they will ask me how their son/ daughter can improve and get to the next level, and each and every time the answer is simple... MORE PRACTICE.

One of the biggest issues surrounding the development of hockey players is the number of practices they have compared to the number of games they play. An ideal, realistic ratio is 2 practices for every 1 game played for ages 7 – 13.  If you look at the above stats, how can we expect kids to develop when they are playing more games than practicing? Studies show that the better kids are at something, the more they will enjoy it, and the longer they will play. Many kids quit hockey because they get to the level where they can’t compete due to lack of skill – therefore it is no longer fun. At the ages of 5 – 6 or 5 – 7, the practice to game ratio should be even higher (6: 1) and in my opinion there is no need for formal games. 

Keep in mind that children can practice hockey almost anywhere. You do not have to wait until a planned practice to practice your hockey skills. Encourage children to practice at home in the driveway or on the street and with friends.   Hit the gym and develop the functional muscles to make yourself a more powerful skater.  Look for outdoor rinks in the winter and places to practice shooting and stick handling in the summer.  At night... watch hockey on TV.

In conclusion, if you want to be the player that makes the biggest jump in their skill level from one season to the next, practice each and everyday and even on off-season game days.  Oktay Armagan, a terrific hockey coach and private lesson instructor has this outstanding quote on his website, and it certainly applies to my philosophy-

Thanks to the OMHA for allowing to publish the above chart.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Facility Review- Rock Ice Center in Dunellen

Over the last two years I've had the privilege to hold many of my "Scoring Concepts LLC" Clinics and Private Lessons at the Rock Ice Center in Dunellen, NJ, and felt it was about time to share my experiences with what I feel is the best HOCKEY facility in Central New Jersey.

Foremost, you need some backstory on Rock Ice.  "On August 2nd (2009) I purchased Rock Ice LLC and became the sole owner of the ice rink here in Dunellen.  I am fully committed to turning the "new" Rock Ice Center into a great place for everyone from the beginner skater to the seasoned hockey player." said John Puskar, owner of Rock Ice.  John has over 20 years of hockey coaching experience, including stints as Head Coach at Morristown- Beard (where he was a 4-time NJ Prep School Champion coach), Whippany Park High School, and the County College of Morris. In the brief time since John's arrival, he's seen his vision take hold, as Rock Ice has constantly made aesthetic improvements, and steadily seen a dramatic rise in the volume of kids coming through the doors to take part in the Jersey Penguins youth hockey program, clinics, several of the High School programs who call it their home rink, and the "Rock Ice Summer Camp".  NJ PowerRanking had this to say about the facility, "Renovated Dunellen rink is much improved over previous years. Fans agree that customer service has improved greatly. Nice grades is many areas especially overhang viewing area that puts spectators right in the action. Locker room improvements helped image considerably."

Yet, more than anything, like a new paint job or bigger locker rooms, I like dealing with Rock Ice and John Puskar for 2 reasons. 
1.  John is a hockey guy.  Many rinks are owned by people who see the facility as pure business, and have never coached or played the game themselves at any reasonable length.  They don't understand anything more than the bottomline... and in my experience, can be brutal to deal with. John is the exact opposite of that model.  He understands the passion coaches have for teaching the game, as he himself has walked in the those shoes.  He takes this experience and acts as a mentor for many young coaches, players and parents experiencing the game on any variety of levels. 
2. The Hockey Programs.  John invites some of the absolute best in the business to coach at Rock Ice.  This summer, in addition to his own "Rock Ice Summer Camp" & "Rock Ice learn to skate Programs", he will host Pro Ambitions hockey camps, world renowned powerskating instructor Robby Glantz, Private Lesson instructors Jeff Gorman and Greg Rinder, and my weekly Scoring Concepts "Friday Night Ice" Skill Clinics.  I'm sure that John could make more money by offering these programs or clinics by doing these with in-house staff... like many other local rinks offer.  Yet, Rock Ice outscources these programs to some of the BEST coaches in the business and as a result gives the kids who train at the facility a far better product.

In the end, Rock Ice offers a premier facility for your youth hockey player to train.  In addition, to having all the above mentioned attributes and outstanding ammenities like a brand new snack bar, Jumbo- Tron style scoreboard, pro shop, a new ceiling lining to ensure great year-round ice, and plenty of parking, Rock Ice has friendly staff that make coming to the rink even more enjoyable.  I highly recommend parents, players and coaches, to check out Rock Ice in Dunellen FIRST when choosing when and where to play.

For Information Check Out-

The Rock Ice Center

125 North Ave
Dunellen, NJ 08812
Telephone:732 752 8600