Thursday, July 24, 2014

Let Kids Be Kids: A Letter to Parents | ADM Kids

Let Kids Be Kids: A Letter to Parents | ADM Kids

Let Kids Be Kids: A Letter to Parents

06/11/2014, 9:30am MDT
By Hockey Mom
Editor’s Note: The following is an open letter submitted by a hockey mom to USA Hockey.
I’m a hockey mom – and I’m done.
I’m not done taking my child to hockey. I’m not done cheering them on. I’m not done providing for them, playing with them or parenting them. I’m not done loving them, by any means. But I am done trying to create the perfect hockey experience for them.
As parents, we want nothing but the best for our children. It’s an innate part of being called mom and dad. We want to ensure they have the best academic possibilities, the best upbringing, and in many cases, the best athletic opportunities. High achievements in any or all of those categories assert us as “good parents.”
But sometimes striving to obtain that “good parent” status causes us to get in our own way.
We tend to overexert ourselves in the process of trying to get our kids to the very top, which, in turn, can overexert them. This is becoming a very common trend in general parenting, but especially sports – hockey being no exception.
I feel our responsibilities are simple: 1. Get them to the rink. 2. Be supportive.
Yelling should be swapped for cheering. Car coaching exchanged for song celebration after the game. And long hockey talks at the dinner table can be replaced with compliments to the chef.
Sounds easy, right? But it can be hard sometimes.
Instead, the desire for our child to be an A-tier player and the seduction of a college hockey scholarship has families running mad from rink to rink. It turns into a game of “Keeping up with the Joneses,” always wondering what the parents next door are doing and causing us to think that we failed if our kid fails to make the best team or doesn’t have the newest gear.
I’m done breaking the bank for the most expensive equipment and summer “showcase” events. I’m done watching every second of every practice with a keen and critical eye.
When I grew up, my mom or dad would drop us off at practice and come get us when we were done. But now the trend has shifted to 24-7 hockey – and it’s exhausting.
I don’t want to dictate family life by the hockey schedule. It’s nice for everyone in the household to be able to take a breath and have some downtime. That’s what summer vacation is for: biking, swimming, camping, baseball, Frisbee, and just being kids.
Summer offers a hockey break not only for my hockey player, but our hockey family. And once the leaves start turning colors again in the fall, we can’t wait to hit the ice and see the smiles on kids’ faces.
But there’s always that concern if you do limit hockey: What if they don’t make the team? How will that affect them? Well, it’s probably for their own good.
New York Rangers defenseman and 2014 U.S. Olympian Ryan McDonagh was cut from his A-squirt team.
“And it turned out to be one of the most fun years that I had,” McDonagh told the Minnesota Hockey Journal. “It really jump-started me to stay positive. My dad was real positive about the whole experience. He just wanted me to have fun and not stress out about it. I gradually got better as it went on.”
My kids aren’t NHL players, and they likely never will be. They are kids. Kids who love to play hockey … and baseball and soccer and go camping and biking. And I’m going to let them do it. I’ll let them play. I’ll let them fail. I’ll let them learn on their own.
I’ll let the kids be kids.
“I think you learn lessons as a kid,” 2014 U.S. Olympian Kevin Shattenkirk told USA Hockey. “It’s fun playing hockey as a kid and it’s not about being a professional. Most of us (NHL players) will tell you we still feel like kids when we are playing this game and that’s the biggest thing I’ve taken from playing hockey – the fun of a game.”
Years down the road, my kids won’t remember the summer clinics, hockey lectures or brand-new skates. What they will remember is the camaraderie with teammates, lifelong friendships, family camping trips, accomplishments, hardships and lessons learned. Those are the childhood memories worth making.
And I’m done trying to get in the way.
Anonymous Hockey Mom

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Keeping Parents In Check


   We all want our our kids to come out of  their youth hockey experiences as winners and there's no question parents play a vital position. But you have to question some of the behavior that goes on during the youth hockey season.  From cussing in the stands to back stabbing coaches, what kind of harm comes from parents going overboard with criticism? Plenty says the Vice President of HARBORCENTER in Buffalo and director of the Academy of Hockey. Kevyn Adams is well-respected, with a LOT of hockey background. He was an assistant coach for the Buffalo Sabres following a 10- year playing career in the NHL. He's played for six clubs including the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets.

HARBORCENTER Vice President Kevyn Adams

After years of playing, coaching and going to rinks with his own son, Adams has seen a  lot  of  inappropriate behavior from parents on the sidelines after games. The VP was kind enough to take time out of his hectic schedule to share his personal philosophy about hockey and parenting. 

        I think the harm created by parents' criticism can lead to a child's lack of interest in the game, confidence issues on and off the ice, and impaired relationships with the child. It is also very important to never criticize coaches or referees in front of your kids. Respecting authoritative figures is a crucial value your child must learn to be successful in the real world. By undermining your child's coach, you're taking away the coach's credibility and giving your child a reason not to listen to them. This not only can hurt your own child;s development, but it can influence how other teammates view and act towards the coach, resulting in a negative experience for all.

Let Coaches Coach

From my experience as a coach, my advice to parents is to leave the coaching to the coaches. While you may think you are helping your child by correcting them, you actually put yourself at a risk of sending mixed signals to them because what they are hearing from you is completely different than what their coach is telling them in the locker room. The best thing you can do as a parent is provide the emotional support your child needs because their chances of being successful are much greater in a positive environment.

Teachable Moments
       I have yet to come across a kid who likes losing. This is where a parent plays a crucial role, because it is their job to teach their kids how to deal with a loss or a bad performance and be able to move on and turn their focus to the next game. This is an invaluable lesson because this attitude will carry over and affect how their kids deal with other disappointments that they face in life. Winning comes and goes, but the values they learn through playing sports remain for the rest of their lives.
Congratulate your kid after a win and don’t beat them up emotionally after a loss. Kids face enough pressure coming from their teammates, coaches, and classmates, along with all of the pressures associated with school and their social lives. The best advice that you can teach your kids is to “leave it on the ice.” Encourage your kid to control the factors that they have control over, such as giving 100% effort on the ice. This will naturally take pressure off of your child and allow them to enjoy the game more and not worry as much on the outcome – something out of their control. 

Fun at All Costs 
    The number one thing that a parent has to try to keep in perspective is that youth sports are meant to be fun. There is nothing more discouraging and physiologically damaging to a child than receiving the cold-shoulder treatment or being yelled at by a parent after a game. If your child performed poorly, your child should never get the feeling that you love them less or that you aren’t proud of them. As a parent, your job is to empower your child and encourage them to chase their dreams. Be the best that they can possibly be on and off the ice, while gaining experiences and learning life lessons in the process. In those cases where you do become upset, remove yourself from the environment so your child doesn’t see your negativity. This allows for yourself and your child to cool down and regain one’s composure after a game. On the way home, ask your child if they had fun and remind them that you love them and are proud of them – win or lose.
     It seems that in sports today, the concept of good sportsmanship is lost and we, as parents, should remember to behave in an honorable way that we would want our kids to emulate in the future.

Cool Facts about HABORCENTER in Buffalo, New York 


  • HARBORCENTER’s two NHL-size rinks combine with First Niagara Center – home of the Buffalo Sabres – to make the only three-rink complex in the NHL. Rink 1 has a seating capacity of 1,800+ and is home to the Buffalo Junior Sabres, Canisius College, and Erie Community College.
Academy of Hockey
  • The Academy of Hockey is dedicated to being the premier development destination for hockey players and coaches. The Academy provides on-ice, off-ice, and classroom programming to hockey players and coaches.
(716) Food & Sport
  • The Ultimate Fan Experience – (716) embraces the passion of sport enthusiasts by providing a premier entertainment destination for all major sporting events. Western New York culinary favorites are delivered through locally produced ingredients, in addition to signature cocktails and craft beers.
IMPACT Sports Performance
  • HARBORCENTER’s state-of-the-art training facility is operated by IMPACT Sports Performance. IMPACT combines an unmatched facility, expert coaching staff, state of the art equipment, and movement-specific programming for total athletic achievement and individual success.
Marriott Hotel
  • Scheduled to open in Spring ‘15, the Marriott at HARBORCENTER will offer 205 rooms and suites, 5,000 square feet of meeting space for groups up to 450 persons, a fitness center, a business center and other amenities.
Parking Facilities
  • HARBORCENTER includes a 750-space parking structure that is designed to meet parking demands for not only the hotel, rinks and restaurant but also to provide additional convenience for First Niagara Center and Canalside visitors.
Retail Space
  • Retail space at HARBORCENTER is designed to provide visitors with additional shopping convenience. A one-of-a-kind Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop is accessible from the street level at the intersection of Main Street & Scott Street, across from the site of the former Memorial Auditorium. The restaurant pays tribute to the life and career of Tim Horton, as well as the history of downtown Buffalo.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mass. Hockey Rinks Add Orange Warning Track, Push Goes Nationwide « CBS Boston

The idea is quite simple but revolutionary for a traditional sport: a bright orange line painted along the perimeter of the rink.
It’s called a “look up line” and is meant to be a visual cue to players – a sort of warning track – to look up when crashing into the boards, a safer play than ducking down, that could prevent broken necks and paralysis.
Click on the link below to read more about this new nationwide push.

Mass. Hockey Rinks Add Orange Warning Track, Push Goes Nationwide « CBS Boston

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sophia's Hockey Poem in USA Hockey Magazine

                            Hockey Girl With Guts

                                                 I'm one of the few girls on my team

                                                        And when the boys get mean

                                                              I pull out my stick

                                                           And skate real quick,

                                                              My shot is really sick

                                                          On the ice I'm never a bore,

                                                                 I love to score,

                                                           I'm a puck hungry girl               
                                                       Who would rather shoot than twirl

                                                             Sophia Burns

                                                                          Age 12

                                                                  Syracuse, New York

Thursday, June 5, 2014

How to Strengthen the Abductors and Adductors for Hockey | Breaking Muscle

How to Strengthen the Abductors and Adductors for Hockey | Breaking Muscle
  ( click on the link above for the full article )
by Chris Costa

Hockey players, pound for pound, are some of the toughest athletes in the world. But no athlete is bulletproof. These days, the game is faster and the players are bigger, but the intensity of the game remains the same. As a result, injuries are becoming more common. For instance, some NHL clubs have nearly a hundred man games lost this season. Man games lost are how many games a team has played with injured players out of the lineup.

While an athlete can do his best to prevent injuries from occurring, there’s no way to stop catastrophic injury in a sport like hockey. In this article, I am going to teach you how to locate weaknesses that indicator poor posture and generally lead to overuse injuries. These issues can be addressed easily by training specific muscle groups responsible for maintaining hip stability.

In hockey, the known weak spots for athletes are the muscles the laterally extend and flex the hips. The abductors responsible for spreading the legs apart are gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, tensor fascia latae (TFL), and sartorius. While the gluteus maximus is strong in hockey players, generally the gluteus medius suffers and tightness occurring in the TFL can make each stride less powerful. On the hip extensor side, the adductors (brevis, longus, and magnus) aid in pulling the legs together. These muscles are even more susceptible to injury due to them not being primary movers. Have you ever pulled your groin? Usually one or all of these adductor muscles have been strained.
Unfortunately, injuries to any of the abduction or adduction muscles can be time consuming to heal. Again, the nature of the beast is that these muscles are not primary movers. They work as antagonist, synergists, stabilizers, and neutralizers. The primary movers, the largest, most actively engaged muscles handle most of the workload responsible for creating powerful movements. If a primary mover becomes inhibited, then what occurs next is natural. The secondary muscles kick in, but they’re not capable of handling all the stress. Muscle strains and tears occur or, worse yet, ligament sprains or tears, as well. So how can we prevent this culmination of injuries?

First, hockey players have to focus on training all of the muscles in the legs. Focusing on just the primary movers is a recipe for disaster. Secondly, since hockey is so demanding on the lower body, players should train the lower body less while in season. Adequate rest is imperative to injury prevention. Many strains come from overworked and underpaid muscles. This brings me to another point. If you aren’t feeding your muscles the appropriate fuel, then you are yet again building for a volcanic eruption.

You’ll probably ask, “If I’m not training with heavy weights how can I make the adductors and abductors stronger?” Remember when I said these muscles aren’t primary movers? That also means these muscles respond very well to light weight training, as well as isometric training. Isometric training is great for in-season work for two reasons, First, you’re not causing damage to the muscles that heavy weight training does. In order to increase muscles size you must continuously create microscopic tears in the muscles that heal and repair. Second, in isometric work the muscle length is not changing. This results in a lesser build up of lactic acid and also helps to shuttle lactic acid out of muscles where it has accumulated from a hard skate. A combination of a healthy diet, isometric training, and foam roller will speed up the lactic acid process.

So now, we know what muscles are weak points for hockey players. We also know how these muscles work and the best way to train them while you’re still in season. But what exercises should you be focusing on to build the adductors and abductor complexes?

Here’s one exercise for each group. I highly suggest you begin slowly, especially if you have not trained these muscles previously. While in season, I would not train the leg groups more than twice per week, with a strong focus on plyometrics, speed, and agility training with band work. Hockey is an explosive game, so movements should be treated as such.

In these movements, you can focus on a 1-3-1 protocol. This means 1 second to finish the concentric phase, or contraction phase, 3 seconds accounts for the extending phase, and 1 second of rest before repeating a repetition. If you’re just beginning, 2 sets should be sufficient. If you’ve previously trained these muscles, then a set of 3 is suggested in season. Keep to a repetition range on 8-12.

Lateral Band Walks

Work both the abductors and adductors in the same exercise. Starting with feet together, knees and hips in line. The band should be around the outside of the ankles, resting low on the tibia. While squatted, keep the core active, chest open, back neutrally held, and shoulders relaxed. Step forcefully, plant the stepping foot, and allow the trailing foot to meet the lead foot slowly under load. Once the feet are together again, complete another step under the same protocol. Once you’ve reached your desired number of reps, return back the opposite direction to you start position.

Lying Hip Internal Rotation

hockey, ice hockey, injury prevention, abduction, adduction, hip stabilityHere's another great exercise. Attach the cable ankle cuff to the furthest ankle. Lie prone perpendicular to the cable. Bend knee to ninety degrees so the attached ankle crosses over the resting straight leg. Adjust the positioning of legs slightly away from cable pulley so a slight stretch is felt in the hip.
Keeping the knee of attached leg bent approximately ninety degrees, pull the cable attachment away from pulley by rotating the hip as far as possible. Return leg to original position toward pulley and repeat. Place the ankle cuff on opposite leg and continue lying opposite direction. (Click on the photo to the right for a full explanation of the movement.)

photos 1, 2 & 3 courtesy of Shutterstock.
Photo 4 courtesy of

About the Author
Chris Costa has participated in hockey as a coach, player, and official for 22 years. Growing up, he found a passion for sports through baseball, soccer, and hockey. As his hockey became more serious, he realized the importance of performance. He began training himself, as an early teen. Where he developed a passion for strength and conditioning.

He specializes in hockey training, both on and off the ice. His education has also given him the opportunity to learn how to implement a healthy, nutrition program. While Chris primarily works with hockey players and golfers, he openly works with all athletes. He found a passion in help elite athletes achieve an even higher level of performance.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Are You Pushing Your Young Hockey Player too Hard?

Attention Parents: Youth Hockey is for Kids.

      Did that get your attention? You have to admit sometimes we do lose our focus with thoughts of championships, full-ride academic scholarships and a shot at the pros swirling in our heads. So we sign our kids up for all kinds of summer camps and instructional programs to get them better, stronger and faster for next season. Heck, if your kid’s got talent, why not do all you can to nurture the next Patrick Kane or Angela Ruggiero? So we push. While not all pushing is bad, parents need to be mindful of pushing too hard, too young says 22- year hockey veteran, Chris Costa, owner and operator of Philadelphia based Assist Performance.
   Costa’s opinion is backed by statistics that show young athletes who are subjected to extreme specialization tend to drop out by the age of 13. 13? How sad is that? Costa joins a growing number in hockey circles who believes too much pressure on younger kids is resulting in kids sidelining themselves and missing out on benefits like confidence, camaraderie and a healthy lifestyle.  “Kids have to want to be hockey players. A parent can’t want it more than they do. It’s just not fair to the child.”
    While parents may have the best of intentions, they may not realize they’re taking away the fun factor when they make winning and recognition the focus. “I can think of one misconception for the younger player is that they must play AAA hockey to become better. That’s just not true, even for some Bantam-aged players. Skill development comes from time on the ice and stick in the hand. The more focus that is shifted towards that, direct in culmination with better coaching, will result in higher skill development. Pushing your kid really doesn't make him/her like the game any more. They have to develop their own passion for the game,” says Costa.
   Rather than being the pushy parent, Costa says be the encouraging mom or dad. “Encourage your child’s desires. If they want to be a faster skater, then get them on the ice more often, hire a strength coach or power skating coach. Skill development can also happen in your driveway. It’s the repetition of practice that will develop instinctual talent, drive, consistency and focus."
   While you’ll want to avoid projecting your own achievement needs onto your child, a gentle parental nudge with a proactive focus can be a plus, “Take every opportunity to teach through example, so your child will understand that good things come with hard work,” says Costa
       And Costa shares a simple formula that may help keep sports in perspective. “Effort creates results. Passion facilitates that effort.”
    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to give our children an advantage, but let’s be smart about how we go about reaching their goals. Let’s celebrate their improvements and accomplishments, win or lose.

Christopher Costa owns and operates Assist Performance, based in Philadelphia, Pa. aP takes strength & conditioning to the next level, and specializes in ice hockey and golf. He previously interned with the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2013-2014 season. Chris is slated to spend some time this summer under the New York Islanders organization.
Twenty-two years of ice hockey experience has allowed Chris to develop the talent, necessary education, and a forward thinking process that is sure to enhance athletic potential. If you or your child are interested in NCAA Division 1, Tier 1 Junior A, Major Junior, or simply strive to be the best in your league, please visit

Friday, May 30, 2014

Keeping Hockey Kids in Shape Off-Season

    After the long, cold, hectic season, who isn't ready for a break to warm up and rest weary bones? While we all enjoy a little time away from the ice, no hockey parent wants their kid to melt into an out of shape summer slug. Christopher Costa, owner and operator of Philadelphia based Assist Performance, is here to assist. He has lots of advice on keeping our hockey kids fit,  while helping them to develop a wider array of movement and sports skills. All good, but let's also not forget the many benefits of free, imaginative, kid-directed play. Just think back to those happy, fun and carefree summer days of hide and seek, house, tag and red rover, red rover. It's not your imagination; many studies have shown the serious need for simple play!
Give It A Rest
     I suggest to all of my athletes, youth to college age, to take some time for themselves. Ideally,  2-3 weeks to basically remove yourself from the game. That includes mental relaxation and possibly injury healing. During that time, focus all energy on things that you enjoy outside the game, like golf, soccer, lacrosse or swimming. These sports will keep your athletic abilities sharp and give you time to develop a new focus.
   Once your energy stores have returned and injuries are healed, then off-season training should become priority. For the young guys and girls, the focus should be on non-weight bearing exercises that are sports-specific movements in hockey. While there will be no weight introduced, the Squirts and Pee Wees can work on building what we call neuromuscular adaptations through learning proper movement form. Speed and agility can be taught through fun, off-ice drills. Having a S&C Coach can help ensure proper form and function, while also preventing injury. 
    For the 14-16 year old group, hopefully, you've been following the above suggestions for a couple of years. Building a solid foundation for movement patterns is key toward preventing injuries. Now, you can add resistance to the movement patterns. Starting slowly is important here, as well. The muscles have developed through a process of neuromuscular adaptations, and the next step is to focus on hypertrophy (growth), speed, agility and power.

Fitness With Focus    
     The focus areas for proper off-season training is dependent upon three factors: age, sex and dysfunction. The dysfunction is a very broad term, because each athlete is different. Some may be fast, while others are slow but strong. I'm sure you've seen this in every team. In order to develop a well thought plan, you need to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, parents, friends and coaches what they think your biggest weaknesses are. Make a list and rank them. Then, develop a focused program based on addressing those weaknesses during the entire training season.
Weighing the Weight Lifting Option
   I'm going out on a limb here and say, "be very selective." What I mean is, hire a STRENGTH coach that has experience with hockey players, namely specific for your child's age. Be sure to ask whether your coach of choice is well educated with hopefully a college degree based on kinesiology, exercise science or physiology. That will ensure that they possess knowledge in the entire physiological process. This will ensure that you are getting the best service and attention to detail.     
    Kids are at greater risk for injury because they have yet to be taught proper form.Without proper form, injury risk is high. A Strength Coach can teach your athlete the step by step process to develop safe, effective form.
    Training can begin as soon as your athlete has the right mindset. However, it is bet to avoid ALL resistance or weight bearing exercises prior to puberty. Once the onset of hormonal response has kicked in, athletes can begin to slowly introduce weights into the training protocol. since puberty onset can not be nailed to a specific age, it is best to wait until clear signs are apparent.

The Need for Speed  
     Fortunately, speed development can begin from a technical standpoint at a very young age. On-ice training can occur once players are competitive skaters. Drills such as 18m sprints ( blue line to blue line) are good methods to develop speed and cardiovascular endurance. 
  Off-ice drills can include ladders, sprints and plyometric exercises. Those type of movements develop speed and agility, while also developing explosive power in mature skaters.

How Much Hockey is Too Much Hockey?

    Sports burnout is real. Parents have a tendency to push their kids to be the best athletes. However, that push is referred to as over-reaching. This results in mental, physical and emotional fatigue that can be detrimental, both on and off the ice.
    Encouraging your kids to be active is the most important factor. If they are enjoying themselves, then your goal is fulfilled. Skills developed through other sports can translate to better performance on the ice. It prevents burnout and inspires a new level of focus. Who knows, maybe they'll love the other sports more? As parents, you need to realize that's okay! Restricting your child to hockey, may not be the best recipe for creating a passionate hockey player.
   If they want to play year-round and show little to no signs of burnout, then there should be no cause for concern. Suggesting other sports is a great idea. Just don't force it.

Got a question for Chris? Shoot away. Post one and he'll be happy to answer.

Christopher Costa owns and operates Assist Performance, based in Philadelphia, Pa. aP takes strength & conditioning to the next level, and specializes in ice hockey and golf. He previously interned with the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2013-2014 season. Chris is slated to spend some time this summer under the New York Islanders organization.

Twenty-two years of ice hockey experience has allowed Chris to develop the talent, necessary education, and a forward thinking process that is sure to enhance athletic potential. If you or your child are interested in NCAA Division 1, Tier 1 Junior A, Major Junior, or simply strive to be the best in your league, please visit