Who IS my Competition Anyways…?

“Who is my competition anyways…?” This is the question EVERY player should ask him or herself!

The purpose of this blog is to help build better teams, by providing players, coaches, and parents with useful drills, tools, and information. You often hear me talking about on-ice strategies and tactics, or off-ice drills and workouts that will give you an EDGE over your competition.

They’re all the same… Well… Almost!
As you move into higher levels of play, the skill-sets of each player become more and more similar. Think about it… who scores the most goals at mite hockey? It’s the kid who can skate the fastest! Who scores the most goals at Peewee? Now that most kids can skate, other tactics like shooting, playmaking, and read & react abilities start coming into play. How about at Midget? Juniors? College? NHL? At the top levels of play, the difference in physical skills from the best player on the team to the worst is minimal. So the importance of gaining an EDGE over your competition is even more crucial!

So who’s my competition?
Who exactly is our competition anyways? This is a huge question, and one that every player needs an honest and healthy understanding of.

When we talk about training, and dominating our competition, the first thought that comes to mind is the OTHER team, right? Of course we want to annhialate the other team… we want to be stronger in the corners, meaner in front of the net, faster to the loose puck… we want to think the game faster, and punish them on the scoreboard… right? If that’s not the case for you, then you’re definitely in the wrong sport. In fact, athletics is probably the wrong field for you in general!

But let’s think a little bit deeper on this… what about our own teammates? Could they be competition too? My response would be ABSOLUTELY!

When you no longer have the “buzzer” to signal the end of your shift…
The moment you graduate from “house league” hockey, your teammates become your competition. Obviously, this needs to be HEALTHY competition, with each player working toward a common, team-oriented objective, but nevertheless… its a competition.

As you move into higher levels of play, the players who produce results will see more ice time. Now these results may come in the form of goals and assists, or maybe in terms of physical play. Sometimes results are considered “momentum shifters” such as a big hit, a big save, a fight, or drawing a penalty at a critical time in the game.

The question is… HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SET YOURSELF UP AS A GO-TO PLAYER? How are you going to make sure YOU get the nod over someone else when you’re down by a goal with 3 minutes left in the game? How are you going to establish yourself as a disciplined, gutsy, hard-working grinder that your coach CAN’T AFFORD to sit during the penalty kill?

The humble opinion of yours truly…
My answer is, you must become a STUDENT of the game, in all respects. You have to UNDERSTAND your positioning better than anyone else, and then EXECUTE it with discipline. You have to be mentally tough, responding to pressure with IMPROVED PLAY, rather than disintegrated execution. You have to think, breath, and live the game, not only at the rink, but at home too. You have to be PHYSICALLY tough… never shying away from a hit. You have to be CONFIDENT that you can go into a battle, and come up with the puck.

So what are the key aspects of the game, that player’s should be working on to gain their edge? Here’s a list of the most important items (again in my humble opinion).

On-Ice Factors:

  1. Technical Skating – get a solid skating instructor and make sure all aspects of your stride are as efficient as possible. Uncorrected stride problems will hold you back as you progress to higher levels of play.
  2. Technical Puck Skills (stickhandling, passing, shooting)
  3. Strategic Shot Selection – knowing which shot to use, and where to shoot in a given situation.
  4. Positional Play – where to be, when to be there.
  5. Tactical Play – what to do when you are in your position (i.e. force vs contain)

Off-Ice Factors:

  1. Strength and Conditioning – becoming bigger, faster, and stronger than your competition, with a hockey-specific workout program.
  2. Off-ice Mental Training – study positioning, visualization techniques, game film analysis
  3. Off-ice Skill Development – many skills can (and should) be developed off the ice… primarily puck skills (stickhandling, passing, shooting, etc.)

If it were easy… Everyone would be doing it!
It’s easy to be pretty good. But becoming EXCELLENT takes complete dedication both on and off the ice. Players at the highest levels understand that hockey is a lifestyle, not a pass time. It takes a lifetime of disciplined execution to achieve excellence in our sport!

On top of all that, you have to be PATIENT. You might not be a go-to player in the coach’s eyes yet. So, take the chance NOW to prepare yourself so that when you get your shot you’re ready to step in and prove that YOU deserve to be there more than your teammate!

There’s an old saying that goes “luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Prepare yourself now to meet your opportunity, then seize the moment when it comes!


PS – What do you think of my list? Did I forget anything? Leave a comment and let me know what aspects of the game are “MUST HAVES” for you!

Unbelievable Goalie Slide Board

Check out this Slide Board Designed Specifically for Goalies!

Every now and then I come across a hockey training product that just makes me go “wow!” That’s what happened when I first saw the X-Goalie Crease Slideboard from XHOCKEYPRODUCTS.

Now, I’m admittedly NOT a goalie guy. But it’s not hard to tell when something is going to be beneficial for an athlete. Watch the videos I’ve included in this post, and check out how closely this product allows the goalies to mimic their on-ice movements. Incredible!

Here are a few of the features you should know about:

Regulation-size Crease
The X-Goalie Crease Slideboard features an NHL regulation goalie crease that utilizes Fan-tastic Sports technology along with the “ProHybrid Visual Lead Position System.” This system allows a goalie to develop muscle memory using the same Squareness, Angle and Depth as he uses on the ice.

Customizable Movement Patterns
This crease uses adjustable stoppers to create customizable movement patterns. PowerStrides, Shuffles, Pushoffs, Recoveries, Slides and even paddle down wraps can be practiced on our board.

Two Challenging Training Levels
This crease has two challenging levels: Foundation and Elite. Young goalies will want to start by using the crease at the Foundation Level. This level will allow them to get a feel for the system, and begin to build their leg strength and coordination.

The Elite Level has stopper placements progressively further out as you approach the top angle. This level will challenge even the most established goaltenders due to the precision needed in angle adjustment, and the power it takes to carry the full distance outside the crease.

Stoppers, Pushers, and Recovery Bumper
All stoppers are located on the “Awareness to Squareness” lines. Each line gives the goalie/trainer immediate feedback as to whether or not Squareness has been achieved to a specific angle.

In addition to the stoppers, the X-Goalie Crease Slideboard is equipped with a Recovery Bumper. This semi circle railing mirrors the crease line. It is used to execute a recovery or pushoff from your butterfly. The bumper is strategically placed in an ideal position relative to the stoppers for maximum load and power out of your hybrid setup.

Moving in towards the posts you will find two blue net play stance stoppers. These stoppers are placed off of each post to ensure the goalies feet are 30 degrees off the goal line. This 30 degree angle gives the goalie a solid base while allowing him to see the strong side corner while keeping the weak side blue line angle in his or her peripheral vision. The goalie can lead the play with a quick shuffle, come back to the same post, lead again, then rotate and shuffle 30 degrees back to the opposite post.

Lastly, this crease has paddle down wrap recovery bumpers in place. These arched rails enable the goalie to recover out of a paddle down wrap as if a player makes a pass instead of executing a wrap around.

I don’t often wish I were a goalie… (No offense to any of you keepers who are reading this!) I love my position, and I play it well. However, this just looks like A LOT of fun to me, and I’m a little envious to tell you the truth! If you’re a goalie… you’ve gotta check this out.

WHERE TO GET IT: Currently the X-Goalie Crease Slideboard is only available at XHOCKEYPRODUCTS.COM… in fact, this product is so new, they’re still in “pre-order” mode right now. But you can sign up to get on the pre-order list here: CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER



NHL Play Dissections

Check the Embedded PLAYLIST Above, for Updated NHL Play Dissections

This post is a little different than usual. I’ve recently put together a number of videos dissecting various NHL plays and situations. I’ve been posting these videos on my YouTube Channel, but I thought my blog readers might find them useful too.

So… the video above is actually a PLAYLIST, which will update itself whenever I post a new play dissection to YouTube. When you hover your mouse over the video, you’ll see the other play dissections I’ve already posted.

Many of these dissections will refer back to concepts we’ve discussed in the Coaches’ Training Course, so take a browse through the course if you haven’t yet. I’m going to be posting more play dissections as we progress through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so check back often!


Effective Off Ice Hockey Training

Interview with Tyler from NHL Digest:

starNHL Digest
March 11, 2010 8:06 PM
by Tyler

Effective Off Ice Hockey Training

Off ice hockey training has been an area of extreme interest to me ever since I played college hockey. You see, I was the kid that had some talent, (not much) but enough, to play on the top teams growing up. But, I was a tall, but underweight and weak defenseman. As you know, those don’t go together! It wasn’t until I reached college and my hockey coach put the a large emphasis on off ice training that I really started to develop. To make a long story short, I often wonder what might have been if I had started an off ice hockey training program in my early teens?

Since I interviewed Washington Capitals strength and conditioning coach, Mark Nemish, last summer I have been looking for an off ice hockey training program that matched his philosophy. If you’re going to do dryland training, why not train like some of the best hockey player in the world?

Well, the other day, Jeremy Weiss contacted me about his newly released S3 Formula Hockey Training System. After reviewing his program and training videos, I found that it matched very well to what Mark Nemish had suggested.

The following are examples of how the S3 Formula matches what Mark Nemish prescribed.

First, Coach Nemish listed the following as his top 3 tips off-ice hockey conditioning:

  1. Make sure that you are being coached in performing the exercises in the program correctly…
  2. Make the clear distinction between activity and accomplishment…too many athletes perform the activity of training but don’t progress at the rate they should because they don’t train hard or smart enough.
  3. Nutrition plays a huge role in training gains or adaptations…your composition and timing of nutrition is very important.

The S3 Formula addresses Coach Nemish’s tips perfectly!
(This is the main reason I can recommend this program for youth hockey)

  1. Emphasis on technique and safety is a big deal in the S3 Formula. The S3 Formula contains a video exercise bank with 57 videos (one video for each exercise prescribed in the program). These videos contain the main “key points” to focus on with each exercise, then show actual demonstrations of the proper technique. The videos are downloadable so players can import them into their ipods, and bring them to the gym with them.
  2. They have structured the S3 Formula in a way that is EXTREMELY trackable. Worksheets and progress reports let the athletes see their progress, and motivate them to compete against their previous scores and records.
  3. Like Coach Nemish, Jeremy is also a firm believer in the importance of proper nutrition in athletics. There is a complete section of the S3 Formula members’ area dedicated to nutrition. They also have meal plans to suit hockey players of different ages and sizes that were prepared by a nutrition specialist as well as a number of videos, audio interviews, and articles in the materials section that deal with subjects like pregame meals, carb loading, and eating to replenish energy stores in tournament settings with multiple games over a weekend.

In the interview, Nemish also indicated the following areas where players are most prone to mistakes with regard to strength and conditioning programs.

Players don’t train hard enough at times and also don’t know when to listen to their bodies and back off at the right times. Also, many players do not pay enough attention to some very important, but overlooked, training variables such as length of rest periods, speed of the repetition, and restoration techniques.

What Jeremy and his S3 Formula say on this topic!

I agree with coach Nemish, particularly with respect to “listening” to their bodies. I’ve always said there’s a fine line between peak performance and injury. The best athletes learn to walk that line with skill and precision. This might mean skipping an exercise, or dropping the weight way down to focus more on technique from time to time.
Another mistake I would add to that is players who get into the weight room without a plan. Workouts must be structured, specific, and goal-oriented in order to be effective. They also must be performed consistently. Having a plan is VERY important in this regard.

Here is the advice that Mark Nemish gave for a hockey player’s off-season conditioning program.

One very important variable for improving power is to intend to move loads as quickly as possible especially with regards to training the legs. Speed kills in this sport and taking advantage of sound training principles to enhance leg power is important. In addition to intending to move loads quickly, regardless of whether they are light or very heavy loads, improving one’s off-ice sprint speed is important as well. Sprinting for 10-30 yards while pulling loads on a sled will help accomplish that. Finally, don’t do too much on-ice training or conditioning too soon in the summer. I don’t like to see players get on the ice much sooner than the beginning of August.

Does the S3 Formula incorporate powerful, explosive movements? In particular for leg training as Coach Nemish recommends?

Absolutely! Jeremy indicates that Hockey speed is comprised of 3 main components:

  1. On-ice technique (low posture, full strides, pushing off at the proper angle)
  2. Foot speed (quickness of stride repetition, agility, ability to change direction quickly)
  3. Leg Strength and Explosive Power (amount of power within each stride, how explosively that power can be used, recoil after each stride).

The S3 Formula is an off-ice strength and conditioning program, with not much focus on skating technique.  However, it does focus a TON on the second two elements – quick feet, and explosive strength and power. This through a structured series of agility drills, leg-strengthening exercises, and explosive plyometric training.

General weaknesses that Coach Nemish indicated he finds most often when training hockey players – Abdominal strength!

Abdominal strength and balance about the core and hips (ie flexibility and strength). This leads to trouble down the road in the form of lower abdominal tears and frequent groin tears.

Does the S3 Formula address abdominal and core strength?

Yes. The program prescribes a blistering ab routine,as well as quite a few “functional exercises” that engage the core while working on other muscle groups. An example of this is the Bosu Push-up, using a Bosu Ball and a Stability Cylinder (As seen below).

S3 Formula Off Ice Hockey Conditioning Program

Making It Easy To Use!!!

One other aspect that I think any fitness program (web-based or not) must address is ease of use and easy to follow instructions. So many people fall off the fitness wagon because programs are too difficult to follow.

The S3 Formula is set up in a way that is very simple to understand. They provide a workbook that shows you each exercise to perform each day, along with the number of required sets and reps. Just to be sure everything is crystal clear, they’ve also created an instructional video that gives step-by-step instructions on how to use the workbook.

As mentioned before, there is a video demo of each exercise––so there’s no confusion on which exercise is being prescribed. These videos can be downloaded and imported to an ipod … and if you don’t have an ipod, there’s also a printable exercise guide you can keep with your workbook that contains the same info as the videos, along with pictures of each exercise.

Simply, they really have gone to great lengths to ensure that this is as easy to follow as possible!!

What is really important about the S3 Formula is that it’s a hockey specific training program. Hockey players should train to be hockey players, not bodybuilders or runners etc. A sport specific off ice training program for hockey is a great way to gain a competitive edge over your competition.

You can get on Jeremy’s mailing list, take advantage of some great free training videos and learn more about the S3 Formula here.

Post from: NHL Digest- Hockey News and Equipment Reviews

Effective Off Ice Hockey Training

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