2011 Hockey Development Predictions

2011 is going to be a big year, not just for me personally, but also for the entire hockey community. As hockey continues to rapidly increase in popularity around the world, so too will the attention paid to QUALITY development systems. With that in mind, here are my top 3 hockey development predictions for the new year.

3) The rapid death of “select camps”
Select tournaments and camps have undergone an incredible growth over the last 10 years. From a business standpoint, the people that run these camps can make a killing by having hundreds of kids attending their tryouts, selecting the team they knew they’d take anyway, and overcharging those players. It works the same way for hosting select tournaments (hence why so many of these “elite only” tournaments have more than doubled their team base over the last several years).

In reality, these camps IMPAIR development more than they expose talent. Because most of these camps take place in the off-season, players put too much focus on on-ice work in the forms of games and practices, and not nearly enough focus on off-ice training and on-ice SKILL work (e.g. skating technique and specific puck handling skills).

Fresh off their 14th hockey camp and 11th hockey showcase, these players are energized for the start of the new season…

The truth is that most players get more than enough exposure during their season. Instead of attending these camps, a player could make drastically more progress by training hard to make a better team the following year. Ultimately, the better the team you’re on, the more exposure you’ll get. There are a few exceptions to this rule (exceptional players in remote areas such as the southeastern United States may need to play in ONE or TWO of these camps/tournaments to get enough exposure to move away from their home and play for a better organization, once they reach an appropriate age to do so), but this likely doesn’t apply to over 75% of the players that attend the camps in the first place.

2) Greater focus on skill work
Skill works seems to have found it’s way out of most youth organizations. This is the result of both an overemphasis on winning AND a rapid increase in the number of youth programs without a parallel increase in the number of qualified coaches. Regarding the former, winning is an important part of the game, but unless a coach’s job depends on it (and even then, alternative means should be considered), winning should not be pursued at the expense of skill work and individual development. Regarding the latter point, this is certainly not to bad mouth the hundreds of fathers and former players that have stepped up to fill the coaching void. It’s only to point out that it takes a special ability to be able to recognize, teach, and reinforce proper skill development progressions, and the number of people that can do that are quite limited. This is why, much to the surprise of hockey parents, I’ve recommended that some of the players I interact with take skating lessons with skating coaches with a primarily figure skating background. The truth is that these coaches tend to have a better understanding of the importance of edge work and single-leg stability. This isn’t to say that all figure skating coaches fit this description, but those with a history of working with hockey players tend to be excellent.

With the rule changes made several years back, hockey is more of a speed and skill game than ever before. Hockey development programs and organizations need to adapt if they want to produce elite level players. In the states, USA Hockey is on the right track with their new ADM initiative; it’s up to us now to learn about it and constantly reinforce it with the players we have access to.

Skill demonstration for Flyer’s fans (the last one is amazing)

1) Increased emphasis on training using a program
As more players train, the improved results of players that follow a well-written program will become increasingly apparent. As it is, we’ve had players at Endeavor that tell us they’ve made more progress in as little as a couple weeks training with us than they have in several months training on their own. In somewhat less extreme cases, most of the players we train in the off-season hit the ice in September and say they’ve never felt better in their lives. Think about that.

Our training certainly isn’t EASY, but the idea that a player can revolutionize his performance by following a well-written training program is quite SIMPLE. Get the program, get the results; it doesn’t get any more simple than that. The largest barrier to this, naturally, is that not everyone can get access to quality training programs. Well, I should say the largest PERCEIVED barrier is that everyone doesn’t know they can get access to quality training programs. For this reason, I think membership sites that provide this information will really take off in the new year. For strength and conditioning coaches that work with hockey players (in a high school, college, junior, professional, or private setting), you’d have to be crazy not to have a membership to HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com at this point. Not only are several programs from different coaches provided on a monthly basis, but you have access to many of the top coaches in the world to ask them questions about your own programs and situations. It’s the single best resource for you.

Click here to get access now >> Hockey Strength and Conditioning

For those involved in hockey training, but that don’t have the expertise or desire to write their own programs, Body By Boyle Online is an extraordinary option for you. There is a ton of content on there, which is nice for the intellectually curious, but more suited to your needs, there are constantly updated done-for-you training programs with videos of all the exercises. All of the content at both sites is available for an incredibly nominal monthly investment, considering the overwhelming impact this information can have on a player’s development!

Click here to get access now >> Body By Boyle Online

That’s a wrap for today. If you think I missed something, please comment below!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you haven’t yet, go sign up for the 2011 Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar. It’s ABSOLUTELY free, and the speakers are world-class. Sign-up now so you don’t miss any of the presentations; they start next week!

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