Coach Rob’s Tips on Getting Ready for Camp

Winter leagues are winding down…Summer leagues are starting up and the NHL play-offs are just around the corner…That can only mean one thing…Weekend Warriors Camp season is about to start!!

In order to get ready, we thought we would send out a little note to help you get prepared for camp. It may not seem like there is a lot to prepare for but there are little things you can do to help get you ready.  Here it goes;

1) Be Physically Ready

I know what you are thinking…”but coach, this is what I do to stay in shape.” I am with you, but if your league has ended try to stay on the ice…if you do not have access to ice try to exercise 3 times a week for 30 mins. The more you can do to stay active it will help you at camp. Doesn’t matter if you are a new player or someone that has been at it a while, 12 hours of ice over the course of 3 days is a lot. To put that into perspective…if you go to a beer league tournament you are usually playing 3 games…maybe 4 if you get to the final over the course of the weekend. That’s 3 or 4 hours of game time and getting breaks every now and then. At camp we have six 2 hour on-ice sessions with a few breaks here and there. Get the picture…try to be ready.

2) Equipment

Prior to arriving to camp make sure all your equipment is in working order. In past camps we have had some equipment failures. This results in the camper trying to replace the equipment…which can be difficult to do if there is not a dedicated pro shop or even if there is, are they going to have your size? The second part of that is it can also result in injury which could ruin the rest of your camp experience.

If you do need new equipment prior to camp, try to wear it a few times before coming. Especially skates…we highly discourage wearing a brand new pair of skates for camp. Breaking in skates is tough in general. Trying to do it while developing new skills is a difficult task and it could take away from having a great weekend.

3) Attitude

Come to camp with an open mind and a readiness to try new things…after all that is why you are here. Our job as coaches is to develop your skills, increase your confidence and make sure you have fun. Sometimes you have been a taught a skill a certain way at your rink and it works for you. Maybe we will teach you the same skill but in a different way.  As a camper, be open to that. We are not saying what you have learned is wrong, we just might have a different perspective.

In learning new skills, it is important that you do not get frustrated. Remember it takes a lot of repetition to learn one skill and feel confident enough to apply to your game. Having said that, how many times do we ever use one skill in a game? Be patient with yourself. Do not measure your progress with someone else’s. We all learn at different speeds.

We are looking forward to this season.  We hope you are too.  See ya soon!

Coach Rob

Goalie Glove Position – A Lesson for Goalies and Shooters Alike

Goalie Glove Position – A Lesson for Goalies and Shooters Alike

So many goalies hold their glove up high.  Why is that?  For many it may come from baseball.  After all, a goalie’s glove is a lot like a first basemen’s glove, and so many of us played baseball as a kid.  So it seems like the right thing to do…except goalies are not trying to catch a ball coming across the diamond from shoulder height as first basemen do.  Rather, they are trying to catch a puck that is coming from ice level.  So big deal.  What’s the difference you may ask?  Well consider the angle. This makes all the difference in the world.

In the picture above, Pekka Rinne has his glove up high.  If the puck is being shot from the blue line or the top of the circles, he is likely protecting the top corner of the net.  But if the shot is coming from in closer, say the dots or bottom of the circles, then he is more likely protecting the guy in the 18th row of the stands.  In other words, if the puck is coming from in close, the angle is steeper.  The puck is rising, so any puck shot from in close that goes into his glove held that high was likely going over the net anyway.

In the picture below, Carey Price has his glove down low and in tight.  It looks like he is giving away a lot of room in the top corner of the net, but when you consider the angle the puck is coming from, there is probably just a tiny window of space.  How many guys in your beer league can hit a small window top cheddar?  Not too many, and if they can, good for them.  They deserve the goal.  Goalies, by keeping your glove down low and in tighter to your body, you are covering more of the net, and making it very difficult for shooters to beat you on the glove side.  Plus if they do shoot high, there is nothing cooler than catching the puck in that upward, highlight-reel worthy, classic “flashing the leather” move.


Shooters Take Notice

So if you’re a shooter, think about this.  And don’t wait until you have the puck and are ready to shoot.  When you are on the bench, take notice of how the goalie holds his glove.  If he keeps it low and tight like in the Carey Price photo, I would look for another place to shoot the puck.  But if he holds it way up high, you’ve got a lot of room to shoot above the pad and below the arm/glove.  Take that shot!

If you would like to learn more about playing goalie or scoring on goalies, then get yourself to one of our great camp locations this spring or summer!

Defensive Tactic: Blade Mirroring – The Great Equalizer

We’ve all been in this situation.  You’re playing in your beer league, and there is a guy on the other team that should be playing about 3 leagues above the one you are in.  He claims he’s in your league because he wants to be with his buddies, but you know he’s checking the league’s stat page the next morning to see where he stacks up among the scoring leaders.  In a word…douchebag!  But the league won’t do anything about it, so what can you do?  Two hand him across the shins?  Oh so tempting.  But you’ll end up in the sin bin, and now you’re team is down a man.  Here is a better idea.  It is a simple tactic called “blade mirroring”.

So what is Blade Mirroring?

It is so simple you will want to kick yourself for not trying it sooner.  All you do is extend your stick (only one hand on your stick) toward the puck carrier’s stick blade.  You want your blade to be flat on the ice, generally with the curve up, but can also work curve down.  The key is to move your stick to follow your opponent’s stick, such that your blade is always in a position to prevent him from shooting or passing the puck to the dangerous areas of the ice.  Your blade should be close to the blade of your opponent’s stick.  Do it such that his or her only options are to turn away, pass to the peripheral areas of the ice (i.e. further way from your net), or if he chooses to shoot, then it gets deflected up and away by your stick.

Why is Blade Mirroring so effective?

If done properly, you will thoroughly frustrate your opponent.  It simultaneously applies pressure and eliminates his options.  The beauty of it is that it works even if that player is a much better skater.  Simply maintain good positioning (between your opponent and your goal), and move your stick to follow his movements.  I don’t know about you, but I can move my stick a lot faster than my feet.  I find it particularly effective when the opponent is already in the corner or outside of the dots.  I love it when I can frustrate a player that is much more skilled.  Oftentimes they will make bad decisions, like a poor pass that ends up being a turnover.  That’s a win!  And did I mention how much your goalie will appreciate you?

Take a look at this video, where former NJ Devils Defenseman Scott Stevens explains the skill, which is also called “stick on puck”.  The most shocking part of this video to me is the end, where he states that he didn’t learn this skill until his 13th year in the NHL!  Not that surprising, I guess, as Scott Stevens never came to one single Weekend Warriors camp.  If he had, he probably could have been a pretty decent player!

Here are a few key points about blade mirroring:

1) This is a defensive tactic, but it is not just for defenseman.

2) It can be used against any opponent, not just the superstars.

3) Remember one hand on your stick!  This gives you greater reach and mobility.

Try this in your next game and let me know if it doesn’t make a huge difference in your defensive game.

If you like this tip, please pass it on to your friends or post it to social media.

Proper Stick Selection: Is Your $250 Stick Hurting Your Game?

So you just went out and dropped $250 on the latest and greatest stick.  It’s made of 100% carbon fiber and weighs less than the tape you’ve applied to the blade.  So I suppose you’re now blasting the puck like Shea Weber, right?  Whaddya mean, no?!!  Could it be that Shea Weber is 6’4″, 233 lbs. of solid muscle whose full time job is to play hockey.  How tall are you?  What do you weigh?  And how much of your week is spent on the ice?  How about in the gym?

My point is rather simple:  Even if you can afford it, more expensive is not necessarily better.  Ask yourself this:  If you were a size 9 and someone offered you the best skates in the world in a size 12, how much do you think your skating would improve?  Hell, you’d be lucky to be able to stand up straight.  Yet I see a lot of players showing up at camp with sticks that just don’t “fit” them.  Sure you can cut a stick to the appropriate length, but do you realize what that does to the flex?  It actually makes it stiffer.

There are a lot of things to consider in a new stick.  In addition to the price tag, there is flex, curve, lie, grip, durability and more.  But flex is the most important.  Get a stick that is too flexible, and you won’t get much power.  Get one that is too stiff, and you won’t be able to flex it, also resulting in not much power.  You see, much of the power in a shot comes from the potential energy of the stick.  Before you strike the puck on a shot (slap, snap or wrist) you are pushing the stick into the ice.  (If not, then you better get to a WW camp soon!)  As you push the stick into the ice, you are bending it, thus increasing the potential energy in the stick.  Then when the shooting motion continues and the stick strikes the puck, all of that potential energy is released as kinetic energy, transmitted to the puck.  So the key is to match the stiffness of the stick with your ability to bend it while shooting.  A stiffer stick can harness more potential energy.  But if you’re not strong enough to bend it, then the only force you are imparting to the puck is that from the swinging motion.  We see a lot of this at camp, and it makes for a very weak shot.  Conversely, if you have a stick that is too soft or whippy for you, then you are not maximizing the amount of energy you could be imparting on the puck…and you may break a lot of expensive sticks.  If that physics lesson was too geeky for you, let me summarize as follows:

The higher the flex number, the stiffer the stick.  A rough guide on stick stiffness is that the flex number should be about half your weight (in pounds).  Of course, that will vary a bit depending on your strength, but it’s a good starting point.  So if you weigh 170 pounds, an 85 flex would be a good choice, and if you weigh 200 pounds, a 100 flex.  But remember, you can’t necessarily go by the flex printed on the stick.  This is because the flex increases when we cut a stick.  (Note:  Some stick manufacturers will print on the side of the stick (near the top) the flex for different cut points.  This is very helpful.)  So if you are 6′ 2″ tall, you probably don’t cut your stick at all.  In this case, what you see is what you get.  But if you’re like me, 5’8″ in thick socks, and cut anywhere from 2″ to 4″ to get it to a length you like, then you are dramatically increasing the flex of the stick.

I recently dealt with the problem of a stick that was too stiff for me.  I had a few Bauer One70 sticks in a 77 flex that I ordered a few years ago.  They were great.  But my last one finally bit the dust, and it was time to break down and buy a new stick.  I’m too cheap to spend $200 or more in a retail store, so I began scouring the internet for deals.  I found one in an 85 flex at a good price, so I thought I’d give it a try.  But I just wasn’t happy with it, and my shot was terrible.  Because I had cut the stick down 2-3″, the flex was probably around 95 to 100.  I’m not strong enough for that stiffness.  So I went back online.  I finally found a stick with a 75 flex in my price range, and ordered one.  It came a few days later. I cut it down about 2″, which brought the flex up to somewhere around 85, which is ideal for me.  In my next game…Wow, what a difference!  I was immediately shooting the puck with more power and accuracy.  Even my teammates commented on the power of my shot.  I won’t be challenging Shea Weber in a hardest shot competition, but not bad for an old guy of my size.

So it’s less about how much you spend, and more about getting the right flex.  Sure, go ahead and experiment with different curves, lies, grip and lengths.  But above all, make sure that you have a flex that is a good match for your weight/strength.

And for most women (and some smaller men), I recommend Intermediate sticks.  These are in between Junior (for kids) and Senior (for adult males).  Typically they are a few inches shorter (so you don’t need to cut them as much, or at all), and have softer flexes (in the 60-70 range).  As an added bonus, they cost less than senior sticks.

Once you get your new stick, be sure to come to camp and learn how to use it properly!  We’ll get you shooting with greater power and accuracy.


Don’t Be THAT Guy! A rant on douchey players

Don’t Be THAT Guy… that takes a 10 minute shift at pick-up hockey.  The best hockey players in the world, who are also some of the best conditioned athletes on the planet, limit their shifts to 40 seconds, and most beer leaguers inexplicably extend that to about 2 minutes.  But you, Mr. Marathon are truly special.  After all, you paid your $15 to skate, and by golly, you should get your money’s worth!  And sure your teammates are on the bench getting cold while you lazily skate back to the red line (and no farther), but it’s not like these guys are really your teammates. After all, they only became so because they were unfortunate enough to pull the same shade of jersey out of their smelly hockey bag as you pulled out of yours.  And besides that, you are highly skilled…a virtual pick-up hockey all-star.  Too bad they don’t keep stats for pick up hockey, huh?  So just hang out in the neutral zone and wait for those lowly grunts to battle the puck away from the other team and send it up to your golden stick.  Of course, you will eventually come to the bench.  You’re not really tired, since you only skate when someone gives you the puck, and then only half the ice.  But there has to be some limit to your douchiness.  Right?