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Now here are some of my recommendations, which I strongly feel can be part of the solution.
1. Each coach must spend the first half of his practice working on Stickhandling and incorporate skating and shooting in the drills. Every player has a puck on his stick for a minimum 30 minutes.
2. Spend part of the second half of the practice on team skills as you incorporate Stickhandling moves in your drills. Save the last 15 minutes or so for scrimmage. Either 5 on 5; 4 on 4; or 3 on 3 with the focus on puck control and make it fun!
3. Schedule 3 practices every week. This is a must. You can combine or share ice with another team. Don’t settle for anything less when you commit to develop skills. This is a necessity. If you are going to play “Dump and Chase” and get it out of the zone, style of play then you don’t need to practice at all. Just show up for the games and the whole system goes back to square one. Nothing will change except that more Europeans will get the N.H.L. and college slots. Deservingly so. Then in two years we will have another “Summit Meeting” to find out that nothing has changed. Now what do we do? “Let’s restrict the number of Europeans allowed to play in the N.H.L.”. Don’t laugh! Some prominent hockey personality already suggested that possibility. This is our sport. Let’s buckle down as coaches and teach the skills to our kids. There are no other solutions. This is it.
4. Focus on puck control and reward that behavior. Always reward what you want your players to achieve. It can be just a few words such as “good job” or “that’s the way”, even a pat on the back or thumbs up will do.
5. Do the kids and yourself a big favor don’t teach them systems except when the opponents are controlling the puck in your zone. Volunteer coaches tend to emulate systems used by Pro teams. “That is the worst mistake you can possibly make.” Pro systems are designed to cover up weaknesses or lack of offensive talent. Pro coaches have one job to do and that is to win or else get fired. Your job as a youth coach is to help each kid develop to his or her full potential. If you do that, your team will win more than their share of games in the process. Ron Wilson, coach of the Washington Capitals, said it best at one of the hockey seminars. “Systems kill development and creativity. Every time you introduce a system you are taking away the player’s development and his creativity.” In other words, let’s kiss the neutral zone trap good-bye along with the left wing lock or any other crippling system that impairs the full development of your players. Make improvement your goal and minimize winning.
6. Attend the Turcotte Stickhandling Hockey School. I know what you’re saying, “He is selling his hockey school” and I agree with you but the reason why I would like to see your son or daughter attend our school is because of the tremendous benefits he or she can derive from it. There is no other place where you can get this exclusive training that is needed for the full development of your child’s skills.
We are willing to run short clinics just so you can get the right exposure for development. Then you decide.
Don’t miss your opportunity!