Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rules that should Rule at the Rink

He calls them simple rules, but I'm going to go ahead and call them the 13 Golden Rules for hockey parents. ESPN Sports Anchor John Buccigross, who endeared himself to me forever by confessing to me in an e-mail that he loves hockey moms, has come up with a must-read list for all hockey parents, whether you're a newbie or a veteran in the stands. Simple rules? Not that simple, if you spend any time at the rinks and witness how parents can so often and so easily complicate matters. That's why we need good, snappy writers like John to keep us focused on what truly should matter.
When asked what inspired him to come up with the list, he told me that being a father of two hockey players (ages 10 and 17), he has seen a lot and he's a pretty observational guy. That will become obvious as you read on. He writes from the heart and from experience; " If nothing else, it gets them away from electronics and teaches them a small slice of humanity that they can take forward through life, a life with more heart and less battery power. The rink's cold robs electronics of their battery power and signal reception, anyway."
Here are two of my favorite rules;

2. Hockey is an emotional game and your child has the attention span of a chipmunk on NyQuil. The hockey coach will yell a bit during practice; he might even yell at your precious little Sparky. As long as there is teaching involved and not humiliation, it will be good for your child to be taught the right way, with emphasis
3. Hockey is a very, very, very, very difficult game to play. You are probably terrible at it. It takes high skill and lots of courage, so lay off your kid. Don't berate them. Be patient and encourage them to play. Some kids need more time to learn how to ride the bike, but, in the end, everyone rides a bike about the same way. Your kids are probably anywhere from age 4-8 when they first take up hockey. They will not get a call from Boston University coach Jack Parker or receive Christmas cards from the Colorado Avalanche's director of scouting. Don't berate them. Demand punctuality and unselfishness for practice and games. That's it. Passion is in someone, or it isn't. One can't implant passion in their child. My primary motive in letting my kids play hockey is exercise, physical fitness and the development of lower-body and core strength that will one day land them on a VH1 reality show that will pay off their student loans or my second mortgage.
Of course you want to read more.....For the rest , click here!
John Buccigross serves as a SportsCenter and ESPNEWS anchor and occasionally hosts ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. He joined ESPN as an ESPNEWS anchor in October 1996, prior to the launch of the 24-hour sports news network that November. Buccigross was the primary host of NHL 2Night, ESPN2’s 30-minute program dedicated to hockey highlights and news from 1998 – 2004. Since 2001, he has also been a weekly ESPN.com columnist. Buccigross signed a book deal in the spring of 2006 with Middle Atlantic Press to write the life story of former NHL player and current NHL analyst Keith Jones. The book's title is Jonesy: Put Your Head Down And Skate. The Improbable NHL Career of Keith Jones.

Hockey New Year!

Looking forward to hockey in 2010
and keeping notes on the season with paper and pen

Another year of sharping skates and skills
of watching dramatic plays and spills

It's not about winning every game,
accept the losses, spare coaches the blame

Love every minute as if it's the last
because we all know our kids grow way too fast

So let's ring in the year and wish for dangles and snipes
and please, can we hold off on the gripes?

Friday, December 18, 2009

When the snow flies, when the kid cries..when my feet turn blue. Here are a few of my favorite ads...

Honda Hockey Ad Click Here

The Honda Ad is my all-time favorite. It so cleverly captures the images of my life! I've always been fond of this one too:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perfecting that Practice

I don't think anyone would question how important practices can be, but maybe you're questioning whether your kids are getting the most out of their practices. Here's some inspiring advice, that just may help get your youth hockey player jacked up for stops, passes, drills and naturally a few spills. The advice comes from Kim McCullough, a former Division I captain at Dartmouth. Kim played in the National Women’s Hockey League for six years and is considered a top expert in the development of aspiring female hockey players. She's the founder/Director of Total Female Hockey and the Girls Hockey Director at the PEAC School for Elite Athletes in Toronto.

Kim's Keys to a Successful Practice

By Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS

We’ve all been at those practices where no one can make a pass, the goalies can’t stop a beach ball, no one looks like they’re trying and the coach is ready to pull all their hair out. While every team knows that every practice is an opportunity to take your game to the next level, all too often players are guilty of just showing up and going through the motions. There is nothing more frustrating to a coach, parent or player when no one can seem to do a single thing right out on the practice ice.
That’s why I created a 5 Point Practice Performance Plan that will help to keep players focused, coaches sane and teams on track as we start into the busiest part of the season.

1. Finish Every Drill To The End: This is a huge pet peeve of most coaches. There is nothing more frustrating than watching you work hard for 95 percent of the drill and then slowing down or giving up right at the end. Why? Because it’s that last 5 percent that you don’t think matters that really counts. Most players will let up right before the end – and that’s the most important part. Be different. If your coach tells you that the drill finishes at the goal line or on the whistle, go hard until the end. This tells your coaches and your teammates that you are willing to go the extra mile.

2. Play Every 1-on-1 Battle Like It’s Your Last: In games, you will do anything to win a race to the puck or win a battle along the boards. Why don’t you do the same in practice? Coaches like to say that you have to “practice like you play.” Think of it this way – if you don’t go hard on every 1v1 battle in practice, how are you making your teammates better? When they have to face a “real” 1v1 battle in a game, they won’t be prepared because you took it easy on them in practice. You have to want to win every battle – whether it’s a game, tryout or practice. This tells your entire team that you are determined to make yourself and your teammates better.

3. Talk: This is by far the simplest thing you can do in practice to make yourself and your teammates better. It drives me crazy to watch practices and games where players aren’t calling for the puck. I have a rule with my team that if you don’t call for the puck, I won’t pass it to you. It might make players look foolish when they skate past me without a return pass, but they get the message very quickly. When I watch games as a scout and coach, I guarantee you that I will always notice the players that are talking out on the ice. If your goal is to get noticed, this is a no-brainer. This says that you are confident in your positioning and abilities.

4. Follow Your Shots: This might seem like a really small detail – but it’s a huge deal, especially in girls’ hockey. Far too many players take their shots and then practically skate themselves into the corner on the follow through. GO TO THE NET! I am not telling you to run the goalie over, but you would be shocked at how many more opportunities and goals you will get by following your shots. Start programming yourself to do this automatically by stopping in front of the net after every shot you take in practice. Once you get into the habit, you’ll see a huge increase in your opportunities to score.

5. Stay Positive & Help Your Teammates Do The Same:
We all have days out on the ice when we feel like we can’t do anything right. The easy choice is to put yourself down, slam your stick against the boards when you make a mistake and apologize to your teammates for being “so bad.” Don’t make the easy choice – make the hard one. Choose to stay positive even when things aren’t going your way. Don’t apologize for making a bad pass - decide to make the next one better.

These 5 points may seem small but they will make a big difference in how you practice and play.

Get complete access to articles, videos, interviews and advice on how to take your game to the next level at http://www.totalfemalehockeyclub.com/.

Download Your Free Copy of The “7 Point Practice Performance Plan” by clicking on the link below:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Stand'outs in the Stands

While I'm often cheering for the little miracles our mites perform every weekend on the ice, this time I have to put the spotlight on the parents in the stands. I was proud to be among the group of moms and dads who, after our team scored more than four goals, and the other team was clearly struggling, the chants, cheers and shouts in the stands became more subdued....like golf claps. It was classy. Even though our kids held that remarkable lead and we were thrilled, we tempered our enthusiasm because we know all too well what it's like to be that other team. Just a few weeks back when our kids were getting creamed and it was so painfully reflected on the scoreboard, we were on the receiving end of the cheers from some pretty obnoxious parents. I will never forget how it made us all feel when the gloating parents from the other team cheered relentlessly for each and every goal (so many I think we lost count) even though we couldn't get a single one in the net. Okay, your kids are good. We get it. Yuck. Just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. While we savored the sweet taste of victory, we tried not to make it bitter for the other guys. Score one for the parents!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hockey Hurts

Two years after our first trip to the ER when my Pee Wee son went fist-first into the boards, we found ourselves back in the emergency room this past weekend with another painful injury. My Bantam boy was cross-checked during tournament play and he got slammed... shoulder-first this time ....into the boards. We're not sure, and maybe it was a combination of events, but we strongly suspect that was the leading cause of the injury to his right shoulder. He kept on playing, but when he kept missing passes and his skating slowed considerably, we knew something was wrong. After the game, when he finally confessed he couldn't raise his arm above his waist, we took him to the emergency room. Five hours and two X-rays later, the doctors at the hospital ER told us the shoulder wasn't broken and it appeared to be a very bad bruise around the bone. Ibuprofen, ice and keep it in a sling, for now, the doctors told us and follow up with an orthopedic expert when you can. Relieved, but not convinced there wasn't more to this extremely painful injury, we placed a call to my son's orthopedic surgeon's office the next day ( hard to believe a kid has an orthopedic surgeon at the age of 14, but I guess that's not all that unusual in youth hockey). The office told us to get him in right away. We did. A good call not to wait and thank the Lord we've got a medical expert who knows how to read X-rays! He delivered the heartbreaking confirmation of what we had feared. It WAS a break and not "just a bad bruise." A broken clavicle at the growth plate will keep him off the ice for a minimum of four and possibly as long as six weeks, depending on what his next X-ray shows. No hockey, no skating, no stick handling in the driveway. Nothing. He can still text, so we're not at the total meltdown phase. Tough news to take though, when you've worked so hard to make the high school Varsity hockey team and all summer you couldn't wait to get back on the ice for your last final youth hockey year with the good buddies you've grown up with on the ice. He's sidelined and miserable. Physical pain ? It's intense, but he seems to be dealing with that just fine. It's the mental and emotional anguish of not being on the ice that's so hard to take. We're going to get him to as many games as we can. As we witnessed during his last hockey season injury, making sure he's around his team and feeling like he's a still a part of the team, ought to help with his mental state and recovery.
Word to the Wise; Research Medical Resources
I've been learning a lot of lessons along the way and not just about bruises, bone injuries, growth plates and how much hockey hurts . Finding that good doctor is key. The doctor we've been going to has treated a lot of youth hockey players. I like how he takes the time to explain the injury and how the injuries relate to youth hockey players and athletes. The explanation this time around seemed to offer some comfort to my son, who I sense is feeling some doubts about himself and his abilities right now. I hope you'll never need one, but based on what I've experienced, it's a good idea to do some research on physicians who specialize in treating hockey injuries and find someone who will deliver that extra dose of comfort at a time when your hockey player will need it the most.
Real Hazards in Youth Hockey
Both of my son's injuries happened after he hit the boards, fast and hard. What happened to my son, apparently happens to a lot of youth hockey players, according to a State University of Buffalo study. Their research shows it's not all those nasty-looking body checks that are sidelining our kids. The real hazards in hockey, according to this study, are players unintentionally crashing into each other and into the boards. After following more than 2500 boys ( between the ages of 4 and 17) over two seasons, the results showed more than half of injuries were caused by unintentional collisions with the board, the ice or between players. Body checks? They accounted for just 12 percent of injuries. In a University at Buffalo press release, lead author Barry Willer was quoted as saying, " It's important to teach a child very early to learn to look forward where he wants to shoot the puck and to 'feel' the puck with his stick, instead of watching the puck. By watching where you are going, you learn to avoid collisions. " That advice may not prevent those hits from behind, but it does makes a lot of sense. As for preventing shoulder injuries, the experts advise good properly sized shoulder pads and constant reminders to players to avoid dropping their shoulders in an inevitable board collision.

Hockey safety checklist;

* Deliver a hit to the head
* Check from behind
* Drop your head near the boards
* Leave your feet to give a check

* Use your stick as a weapon