Last week marked one of the best opportunities as a strength coach that I’ve had in my short coaching career. I was able to be one of the strength coaches for the USA women’s hockey developmental camp (ages 14-15) in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. Our primary goals were to run the warm-ups/cool downs for all the teams before and after each practice. Each team also had two strength and conditioning sessions within the week which consisted of teaching and implementing the basic lifting patterns (push, pull, hinge, single leg, core) that would be expected of them in future camps within USA Hockey.
The week was awesome and straightforward. The highlight for me came during the first night of camp when Joe Eppolito (camp director) spoke at the first official meeting for the staff and players to discuss expectations. Here were the highlights…
- Representation: Players represent their hometown teams, their state, and most importantly themselves. Take pride in what you do and understand that you represent more than you may think.
- Cleanliness: be responsible for your dorm room and don’t leave it like a pig’s house. Part of responsibility/success is being clean, organized, and accomplishing those duties on a daily basis.
- Be Thankful: Be thankful for having this opportunity because you will remember it for the rest of your lives. It’s not everyday that you get to go to a select camp that is for the best hockey athletes in the nation for your age group. Be sure to thank those who helped get you there: parents, coaches, friends, other family members, etc..The sacrifice of time and money for parents to help these athletes get to practices and be able to participate is immense–>be thankful!
- Respect/Learn: Be sure to be respectful to all the coaches and staff because these are the best in the nation at what they do. Learn from them, ask questions, and try your best to absorb that information because it will improve the various skill sets needed to be a successful hockey player.
- Have Fun: Having fun often times takes a backseat because everyone has become infatuated with winning and not the process. The camp is also about building new friendships and appreciating how far you have come during the short time you have been on this earth. Love for the game is more important than anything.
Those messages have stuck with me and I’m sure they will for quite some time. At Endeavor, we have the opportunity to work with many elite level male hockey players but we don’t have many female hockey players. After that week, I wish we had more because these girls worked diligently, listened carefully, and were arguably the most respectable bunch of people I’ve ever met. I was honored to be a part of the process and not just the end result.
I encourage any parent, coach, or player to check out the USA Hockey Developmental Model as a guideline to any youth sport because they are running it better than anyone. Here is just one example from USA Hockey’s home website..
“For starters, many athletes spend too much time traveling, competing and recovering from competition and not enough time preparing for it. Second, there is too heavy a focus on the result rather than the performance. This attitude leads to long-term failure, as coaches forgo the development of skills to focus on specific game tactics. And third, too many athletes are specializing too early on. An early focus on just one or two sports often leads to injuries, burnout and capping athletic potential.
This way of thinking has led to 60% of players dropping out before PeeWees and 20% dropping out after only one season leading to an overall decline in retention since 2000.
Coach Herb Brooks was famous for saying that, “Great moments are born from great opportunities.” Well this is our opportunity. Our time to get it right.
The American Development Model is a nationwide model for successfully developing American hockey players. It is a tool that will ensure every kid will have the same chance to succeed.
By implementing ADM, associations will see an increase in player retention. Again, ADM is a set of guidelines designed specifically to help kids reach their full potential.
Onward and Upward