How to Get the Most from Hockey Camp

Our camp season kicks off next week, and we are so excited to hit the road and spend time with our Warrior faithful, one city at a time.  We love putting these camps on, primarily because we get to hang out with so many great hockey people, who have have such an incredible passion for this game.  My staff and I get immense satisfaction from watching players progress from Thursday evening through Sunday morning.  The level of improvement can be dramatic.  We especially love it when a player has a “light bulb moment”, suddenly getting something he or she never did before.  And we can’t help but smile when we see our players having more fun than an adult should be allowed to have, while getting progressively better at this great game.  In order to facilitate this learning process, we have put together a few suggestions to ensure that you get the most from your camp experience.  These suggestions come from our staff as well as many of our players over the years.

1) Get yourself physically prepared for camp.  I don’t say this to scare anyone.  You don’t need to be in triathlon shape to attend camp.  Truth is, we have plenty of players show up in “marshmallow” shape, and still learn a lot at camp.  But your level of physical conditioning will affect your ability to give your full effort in every drill over the course of the weekend.  If you play 3 or 4 times per week or work out daily, you’re going to be in pretty good shape for the weekend.  But if you play once a week, and your other form of exercise involves the TV remote control, then you may want to up your exercise regimen in the weeks leading up to camp.  As coach Rob likes to say, our weekend of 12 hours on the ice is like an entire season of your beer league.  So get yourself off the couch and into the gym, and you’ll be better prepared to push yourself harder and experience greater improvement.

2) Set some goals.  On the Warrior Profile, we ask players about their learning goals for the weekend.  Some players leave it completely blank, while others make a list of 10 or more things they want to learn.  Our suggestion is that you think about 1 or 2 or possibly 3 things that you really want to improve.  Make these your focus.  Some may be covered as part of our regular curriculum.  However, you may have a goal that is not on the curriculum.  If this is the case, be sure to talk to a coach about your goal.  In some cases, these are things that you can get help with off the ice.  If so, there are lots of opportunities over the course of the weekend to discuss these matters with members of our staff.  But often they are things that need to be learned on the ice.  If this is the case, then arrange for a few minutes on the ice with one of the coaches.  The coach will find a few minutes to help you out on the ice when there is an opportunity.

Fall_13) Get out of your comfort zone.  Our coaches are going to ask you to try some things on your skates that are not going to be easy.  Whether it’s committing to that outside edge or learning a new pivot, you are going to be challenged to try some things that push your current limits of balance.  But you’re here to get better, and you’re wearing a small fortune in protective gear.  So push yourself.  See how far you can commit to that edge.  If you fall, your gear will protect your body, and your ego will heal quickly, as you realize that many others are in the same situation.  Or maybe you can do something really well in one direction (e.g. stopping), but struggle in the other direction.  Use camp as an opportunity to improve the skill on your weak side.  The main idea is to push yourself a little beyond your comfort zone in order to maximize your level of improvement.

Fall_44) Don’t take yourself too seriously.  You’re going to fall, you’re going to miss a shot; simply put you’re going to struggle in some areas that aren’t comfortable to you. That is why you came to camp. It will be natural to get frustrated, however use that frustration to keep trying. Frustration can hinder your learning experience if you let it. Whatever you do, don’t hang your head.  Laugh it off, focus and get back to it. After all, we’re all in the same boat.

5)Fall_3 Come with an open mind –   While we don’t ask you to forget everything you’ve learned, it would be beneficial to come with an open mind. For many of us, a lot of our hockey knowledge comes from the “expert” on our local league team. By expert we mean the one that yells the loudest about how much they know about the game. While some of these things may be correct, often we pick up bad habits from these folks that actually hinder our game.  Our coaches have vast experience.  Is everything they say gospel?  Of course not.  There are different ways of doing things.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of trying things a different way.  Just because you’ve always done something a certain way does not mean it is the best way to do it.  So be open to new ideas.  You’d be surprised at how many people struggle to get something one way, but then are able to do it when a coach suggests an alternative way of doing essentially the same thing.

Fall_26) Go slow at first.  Speed does not equal effort.  Hockey is a fast game, and that is part of what makes it so exciting.  We all want to be able to duplicate what we see the pros do on TV.  But remember, those guys have been doing that almost every day since they were mini-mites.  We see too many players come to camp, learn a new skill, and try to execute it too fast.  It takes a while to train your brain to do it right.  So while the ultimate goal may be to do it fast, the most important thing is to do it right.  So whether it is a new stick handling move or a new skating stride, do it slowly and with good technique.  Once you get the proper technique down, the increased speed will come with repetition.

I hope you’ll keep these tips in mind when you come to camp.  We want to see you get the absolute most possible from your camp experience.  We will surround you with coaches who are knowledgeable, experienced and passionate about teaching you to be a better player.  Your job is to be the best sponge you can be, and take your game to the next level!

Going Away to Hockey Camp – Why It’s Better Than Going Local

IMG_8983As we get ready to hit the road for the start of our 15th season, I just wanted to share a few thoughts regarding the experience of going away to hockey camp.  I get a ton of inquiries from players wanting us to bring a camp to their hometown, and we are always looking at new locations.  But while having a camp at your local rink may sound ideal, for many of us, getting away to camp is a far better experience.  Look, having a camp at your local rink is certainly convenient, and is also the most economical way to gain all of the benefits of an intense weekend of learning and training with our knowledgeable and passionate staff.  But if you can swing it, getting away offers quite a number of advantages.

1) No Distractions.  When you attend camp locally, there are so many potential distractions that can prevent you from gaining the full benefit of the Weekend Warriors experience.  For some it’s the job.  For others, it’s the family or the dog.  The fact is, you haven’t really extracted yourself from everyday life.  Now this doesn’t apply to everyone.  There are those who attend at their home rink, and fully participate in all aspects of the camp.  Similarly, there are those that go away to camp, but get distracted by work or family matters.  You have to know yourself, and your personal situation.  I’m merely suggesting that you think about your situation, and if that extra buffer of going away to camp might be a better option for you. If you do attend camp locally, then consider setting some boundaries with work and family.  Maybe even tell the boss that you’re going away to hockey camp.  No need to let them know you’re still in town and tempt them any more than necessary.  Some local players have even been known to book a hotel room one or 2 nights, rather than commute home every night.

2) Total Immersion.  Players who go away to camp are, in general, more immersed in the experience.  This includes not just the on ice sessions, but all of the off ice portions of the camp as well, including chalk talks, video reviews and social events.  This total immersion yields a more enjoyable and satisfying experience.  Again, even if you’re local, try to experience this total immersion to get the most of your camp experience.  Think of the camp as an investment in yourself and your game.  In order to get the most return on your investment, you’ll want to participate in all aspects of the camp.

“Getting away for a weekend of nothing but hockey is great, and unlike playing in tournaments this weekend actually made me a better hockey player.” – Omni Adams

3) Camaraderie – “Camaraderie, Shamaraderie…That’s a bunch of BS.  I’m just here for the drills.”, you say.  Well I could not disagree more.  While the learning experience is the most compelling reason to attend hockey camp, do not underestimate the power of the people.  And as people, hockey players, particularly Weekend Warriors, are some of the best on this planet. We have a passion for this game, and when we get together to learn, play and talk about this game, there is a special energy that is pretty hard to duplicate.  Players come to camp and forge friendships with fellow payers, coaches and yours truly…friendships that will last for many years to come, if not a lifetime.  In my opinion, the camaraderie is the “special sauce” that makes the experience so memorable.

“Even after 25 years of playing, I learned so much that will definitely improve my game going forward. Also, it was a lot of fun. Great camaraderie with the coaches and other “campers”. Everyone is very supportive no matter the skill level. The whole experience is very well run and delivered as promised.” – Tom Kramer

4) It’s a Vacation – Make no mistake, you’re not going to be lying on the beach getting a tan (except maybe in Tahoe).  You’re going away to play a sport you love, and learn to play it better.  It’s hard work.  When you get back, your body might not feel like it was on vacation, but your mind and spirit will be recharged after such an exhilarating experience.

“WW was the ideal 4-day vacation.  I left camp with a smile on my face, feeling better about myself and my playing ability than I ever have in my entire life.  No matter what your skill level is, you leave WW camp better.  And the friendships you develop off the ice are for a lifetime.” – Pat Mauceri

Some Common Excuses Debunked

I would like to address some common reasons people use to not go away to hockey camp.

It’s Too Expensive – I’m not going to mislead you.  Going away to camp is definitely more expensive than attending at your local rink.  But assuming there is no flying involved, it’s not as expensive as you may think. It can be a nice little road trip.  Gas is cheap these days, and you don’t need to eat prime rib every night. We even provide dinner on Saturday, and many of our hotels include breakfast. The biggest additional expense is the hotel, and we do our best to negotiate a good deal for our players at each location.  But the best way to minimize your hotel expense is to split the cost of a room.  So bring a buddy along, and if that’s not an option, then send us an e-mail and ask us to help connect you with a roommate.  We’ll do our best to help you out.

I Can’t Fly with My Hockey Gear – Many people assume that since the airlines and TSA have made flying less fun than a colonoscopy, that it would be prohibitively expensive to fly with hockey gear.  Well, the truth is, it’s not as bad as you may think.  Most airlines have policies that treat sports bags with a special set of rules.  So even though it’s a bigger bag, you can check it for the cost of a regular bag.  And get this, your sticks count as part of the bag.  And if you fly Southwest, your bags fly free.  Also consider that you don’t need to pack your tux, as our camp social events are totally casual.  You can even stick your clothes in your hockey bag or your carry on so you don’t need to check 2 bags.  For more details, see our page on Flying with Hockey Gear.  We have a lot of fun destinations, so don’t limit yourself to driving distance if there’s a more distant camp that intrigues you.

I Don’t Have Anyone To Go With Me – You want to go, but you can’t talk any of your hockey buddies into going with you?  That’s pretty common.  Don’t be deterred.  Weekend Warriors are fun and friendly people, and the atmosphere at our camps is so conducive to making friends.  Before we take the ice on Thursday, at our orientation meeting, we all get acquainted as we introduce ourselves to one another.  Then immediately after the first ice session, we head out for a beer and a bite to eat in our “Break the Ice” Social.  By the time you get to the locker room on Friday morning, your new friends will be waiting to chirp you in the locker room.

“The combination of 12 hours of ice time, superior coaching, skill progressions, video analysis, and social events was outstanding. I didn’t know how it would be attending the camp on my own, but everyone made me feel welcome and I learned more than I have at any other camp. The coaching staff was knowledgeable and professional.” – Lynda Ransdell

Going away to hockey camp is not for everyone.  For many it’s just a matter of budget.  If your budget allows, then I would highly recommend taking your game on the road.  It will be a vacation you won’t soon forget.  But if getting away is out of reach for financial or other reasons, then of course we want you to attend locally if there is a location within commuting distance of your home.  Just remember to avoid distractions and immerse yourself in the camp in order to maximize your learning and enjoyment.