Tucker Hockey: Your Premier Calgary Hockey School for 19 Years!

       

 

 

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Date: 24/9/2016 1:19 PM UTC



At Tucker Hockey we are constantly looking for new ways to challenge both our adult and minor hockey players.  We are always searching for new and innovative programs that we can add to our ever-expanding list of offerings.

Tucker Hockey has an exciting new venture for 2017.  I am very honored to introduce to you our new European Adult Hockey Tour coming in May 2017!

What is the European Adult Hockey Tour?

It’s a unique opportunity to visit the Czech Republic from May 7-20, 2017. This is the chance for the avid adult intermediate hockey player to experience a 2-country tour of the Czech republic and Austria with their family and friends and play a 5 game hockey series.

Stay tuned and check out my blog every week for more details about the tour and why you can’t pass up this once in a lifetime trip!

Posted by Rex Tucker | Post a Comment

Date: 18/2/2016 4:30 PM UTC



Since starting up my Tucker Hockey business 18 years ago, I have been a guest instructor working with many minor hockey coaches and their players from the Timbits to Midget AA levels. Minor hockey coaches, managers and or parents have hired me on to work with their team on their practice ice times throughout the season.
Often team’s have raised funds throughout the season and wish to use these fund raising dollars to further the development of their players and coaches. The number of team ice sessions has varied from 1 ad hoc time to upwards of 10 sessions per season. The main focus has been power skating but I have taught other technical skills including puck control, passing, shooting and checking. Also offensive and defensive individual and team tactics have been instructed on some occasions to older age and more skilled teams.

Over the years I have instructed more than 400 ice sessions on various minor hockey team practice ice times during the October to March hockey season. Weekend ice times have ranged from 7:00 am on a Saturday or Sunday morning, to late mornings, to afternoons and to early evenings as well as on weekdays Monday to Friday spanning from 4 pm to 10 pm. Of the approximately 60 rinks in the City of Calgary area, I reckon having conducted minor team practices on probably most if not all of them. As well, I have traveled to the following towns and communities near Calgary - Airdrie, Beiskerer, Black Diamond, Cochrane, Cross Fields, Indus, Morley, Okotoks, Strathmore and Turner Valley.

Sessions have been instructed on full ice, half ice as well as having 2 teams combine and participate in a full ice session with 2 Tucker Hockey instructors - myself and Coach Dave, a Tucker Hockey instructor for the past 12+ years. With 2 teams and 30 players we have to be conscious of keeping the players active! For minor teams we can run standard power skating sessions consisting of: hockey stance and balance, forward and backward edge control, forward striding, stopping and fun skating games etc or customized power skating sessions based on the team coaches or manager’s specific requests such as backward skating, foot speed,  lateral movement, skating agility etc.

Coming out and working with a group of coaches you have not met or players that you have not seen skate before can sometimes be a challenge. However, generally we have a pretty good idea of the skill level knowing the division level of the team. For example most peewee division 1 players can perform an outside edge drill but can they do the outside edge drill well with a puck? For peewee division 4 or 5 usually only a hand full of players have an outside edge while peewee division 9 or 10 none of the players have an outside edge! Often we may need to adapt the practice plan according to the skill level – progress at times or regress at other times. There’s an art to it. Give the players what they need to know not what you know as an instructor. Right thing, right time and right amount is the development motto.

Over the years I have meet some great people, dedicated parents following their child or children up through the minor hockey system. However, having worked with so many teams over the years I have been exposed to many different hockey team environments of which the majority of them have been quite positive but occasionally some have been rather negative.

Often the problems evolve around poor coaching or a lack of winning by a team throughout the season. These factors have created some unhappy campers! Big problems were losing streaks where parents and players get down on themselves and the coaches. Often the coaches were perceived as not being good coaches just because the team was not winning! Certainly not fair to the coaches! Some times it’s the situation – not even Scotty Bowman could work a miracle! My coaching philosophy has been to come out and run a high tempo practice and try to raise the moral of the team to inject some positive energy to the coaches and players. Often coaches and parents need to lower their expectations about the team’s success and keep the proper perspective on things especially at the lower age levels. It’s only a game at the community level! A very small percentage of players will develop to play quadrant hockey. Even less will play pro hockey.

Here are a few observations. At the lower age levels between timbits to peewee and especially lower divisions 5 to 10 of these age levels, the norm is new volunteer coaches. Unfortunately, some of these coaches have limited experience playing or coaching hockey. They have generously agreed to volunteer their time to coach their son’s or daughter’s team because no one else has stepped up for the challenge.  Sometime’s they choose the position half heartedly but the team desperately needs a coach. They do the required weekend coaching certification course and jump into the minor hockey arena fire! Often it’s a very thankless job from many parents who have been quite unrealistic about the team’s success.  Parents often have been too focused on winning and not enough about having fun and getting the players ready for the next age level - for example advancement from novice to atom. Many coaches have run skating drills but do not teach proper skating technique or correct bad skating habits of the players.

We have worked with experienced coaches of 5 to 10 years who know what they don’t know. They are very competent and good with the kids but realize they need help teaching skating skills. Also, we have worked with very inexperienced first year coaches who lack overall skating, hockey skills and coaching knowledge. The benefits to the minor hockey coaches of having Tucker Hockey guest instruct on their practice ice range from:

  • Learning new drills
  • Learning new teaching points to help skill development
  • Learn what to look for to correct bad skating habits
  • Possibly discover new and different teaching approaches with the kids
  • Head coach receives a standard power skating handout
Most times coaches have appreciated the expertise, a new voice or way of doing things on the ice. They have been keen to learn and wanted a professional coach to help their players develop and become better skaters.

After 25 years of coaching, it’s still continuously learning for Coach Rex; learning from interacting with fellow coaches, players of all ages and skill levels and learning about myself. There’s always room to improve and to learn new aspects of the game – its constant personal growth and development. Instilling the love of the game to the kids, helping the player’s develop skills and the mentoring of minor hockey coaches is my passion and joy! See you at the rink! It’s my sanctuary and where I like to hang out!

Posted by Rex Tucker | Post a Comment

Date: 12/11/2014 7:21 PM UTC



Improving on the Public’s Attitudes and Perceptions

As previously mentioned, the perception of hockey as an increasingly violent sport in the public’s eye is a deepening problem. Hockey is portrayed as a violent sport based primarily on the body contact aspect and related injuries. With an increase to player concussions and enhanced 24 hour sports coverage it only magnifies the violent perception and issue within our game.
Governing hockey bodies, at all levels, have to do a lot more to ensure the game grows with a special emphasis on making the game safer especially at the lower levels and educating parents on the benefits of proper protective equipment when worn properly such as properly securing the chin strap on helmets in warm ups and games. Also, a zero tolerance for head shots and for fighting at all levels will enhance the safety and overall perception of the game in the long run.

Increase Corporate Involvement / Sponsorships

More Canadian corporations need to step up and create sponsorship programs to help grow the game, such as subsidizing and funding registrations and equipment for players, as well as help with building more recreational facilities. More initiatives like Comrie’s Sports Equipment Bank need to be created across Canada to provide all kids with the opportunity to play.

Improve on Family Tax Credits

The federal government needs to enhance the tax credit system for participating in sports especially hockey to encourage and reward increased participation for kids and adults. As mentioned earlier, with both kids and adults more active in our society, it will create better health, fitness and overall wellness and reduce billions of dollars on our heath care systems in the decades ahead.


Create a Hockey Legacy Fund / Command Centre

Canada is a world leader with over 2,600 arenas nation wide. We are truly blessed to have so many facilities. Calgary alone has over 60 arenas. However, many arenas across the country are getting old and badly need capital improvements. A national capital expenditure program to help old arena upgrades and build new arenas where the demand warrants is an important component to our future hockey infrastructure.
Creation of a 1 – 800 hockey call centre to accommodate and assist individuals and minor hockey associations across the country that need help to keep playing or hockey going in their area.

In Summary:

This article just scratches the ice surface. It’s Tucker Hockey’s way of expressing our views for the betterment of the game. A very detailed and systemic investigation by the governing bodies concerning the issues confronting minor hockey is necessary to change direction, and to strengthen the future welfare and betterment of hockey in Canada. One of Hockey Canada’s mandates is to increase hockey participation in the years ahead. This will require “thinking and stepping outside the box”. Back in July of 2014, Hockey Canada named Tom Renney the organization’s new President and Chief Executive Officer. Tom is definitely the right man for the job! Under his vision and leadership, Hockey Canada will be taken to another level. If there’s anyone in our country that has the diversified hockey background, respect at all levels, a strong core value base, dynamic people skills and forward / innovative thinking…it is Tom Renney. Tom, my personal belief is that all children should have the opportunity to play organized hockey – the nation’s greatest sport. Sincere best wishes with your future Hockey Canada endeavours!


Now tell us your views on how we can improve the numbers.
 

Posted by Rex Tucker | Post a Comment

Date: 5/11/2014 10:05 PM UTC



Changing the Minor Hockey Coaching Mind Set

 

Players must get the right start. The little people’s first adventure to the rink must be a positive experience and a place they want to visit every day. A sanctuary of sorts!


The toughest part of playing hockey is that you have to learn to skate before you can begin to master the other skills of the game. Other sports such as soccer do not require a person to master balancing on thin metal blades before learning to kick. It’s a more challenging sport to learn than first meets the eye. As well, parents that don’t know how to skate are less inclined to enroll their kids in hockey, as they cannot participate in their kids’ development directly.


More time, monies and resources are needed to improve minor hockey coach education and mentoring. Properly motivated coaches are needed at the lower levels of hockey. If we have more “value based” coaches at the lower levels, to instil a love of the game and teach “fundamental” skating and hockey skills. It will help kids enjoy their hockey experience better and should keep them playing longer.

At the lower levels of minor hockey sometimes coaches deliver the wrong message – winning over having fun (getting too serious at too early an age). Let’s keep the fun in the game!


Address the “Shortening of the Bench” problem within minor hockey. It’s doing a lot of damage to our game. Read Wally Kozak’s column on page 6 of our newsletter for an informative insight into this problem.



Changing the Minor Hockey Season Model



Recruitment and retention are the key words for the governing bodies – it’s about selling our great game to the public especially visible minorities to make it more appealing.


Making the minor hockey season more flexible to fit with the demands of the modern family. Breaking the season into 3 or 4 mini seasons i.e. Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. This will create opportunities for some kids to play year round while also allowing other kids to work hockey into an already busy schedule. Encouraging less out of town road trips, tournaments and games will lower costs, so that a single parent family with multiple children can afford to participate in the game. Less games more practices.

Parents need the choice available to have their children participate in CONTACT or NON - CONTACT hockey. More time and monies need to be directed to SAFETY FIRST and checking clinics / resources to prepare the players for contact hockey.  Players participating at a level below AA, such as house / less competitive leagues do not need to be playing contact hockey. The sport has become more recreational than competitive / elite in nature.


Now, more and more Canadians share concerns about body checking, concussions and head injuries. The Canada Safety Council has been speaking out on this for more than 20 years. More progressive concussion studies and changes need to be implemented to make hockey safer and less of a violent sport. The main reason kids play any sport is for fun – and getting hurt is no fun! Fear of injuries is driving young players and their parents from the game.


Take fighting completely out of the game at all levels of hockey. Increased violence has turned kids especially those new to Canada, from the game of hockey. Also, racist and derogatory comments on the ice and in the arenas have contributed to an unwelcoming environment. In addition, in today’s world publicized incidents of racism in hockey have become more frequent and in turn have raised concerns among families in the minority communities.



Improve on the Hockey Governing Pyramid



One of the biggest challenges for Hockey Canada is dealing with the pyramid of provincial bodies and the hundreds of minor hockey associations beneath the organization. There are 4 layers to the Minor Hockey pyramid, for example in Calgary: Hockey Canada, then Hockey Alberta, then Hockey Calgary, and then the 20 + local Calgary community minor hockey associations. Each organization has its own agenda and directives, and they don’t always mesh with the level of the pyramid above or below them. In the past Hockey Canada’s directives on change and improvement have not always been embraced and implemented for the betterment of the game at the grassroots levels. Such an example was the issue of checking at the Peewee level which took decades for everyone to agree upon. Ridding the system of unnecessary bureaucracy / politics will be a major challenge indeed.  Teamwork is a necessity for the betterment of the game!


The Canadian Junior Hockey League (WHL, OHL and QMJHL) and ultimately the National Hockey League prosper from the efforts of the many minor hockey systems. Since the local minor hockey systems are feeder systems, a stronger partnership and financial commitment to give back to grass roots hockey is needed in the years ahead from both leagues.


A more conscious attempt should be made to actively seek out and appoint visible minorities to staff hockey related positions in community. More minority representatives in the minor hockey organizations will help ensure the effectiveness of the governing bodies’ philosophies, policies, programs and services.Establishing advisory boards, independent consulting committees or special task forces to address the major hockey issues, recommend solutions and future courses of action. It’s important to keep the hockey establishment accountable in the decades ahead.

Come Back Next Week to Read the Conclusion

Posted by Rex Tucker | Post a Comment

Date: 22/10/2014 4:42 PM UTC



“Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future.” – Steve Jobs


The Hockey Zones Winter 2012 edition published an article called “The Minor Hockey Dilemma”. This commentary revealed that the state of Canadian minor hockey as we know it today may look quite different in the next decade or so. Hockey Canada’s membership is around 575,000 registered players, down more than 200,000 from its peak. The myth is that most Canadian boys play hockey, however, the reality is that the numbers are falling. Only 15.7%, or 1 in 6.4 boys, actually play the game in Canada. If the trend of young males deciding not to play hockey continues, the numbers are expected to lower to about 360,000 in 2021. On the opposite side, there’s been a boom in female hockey, but the numbers do not make up for the decline in male participation. That trend could have a serious impact on Canada’s international male dominance of the sport in the future.

For many Canadians, hockey is more than a game; it is a big part of life. No other country is as passionate about hockey! Everyone has an opinion about the game. So it’s very difficult for administrators to make progressive changes to the hockey system in Canada because hockey is such a big deal and everyone wants to discuss and debate it.

As a continuation to our previous article, we offer our two cents worth to grow the game in Canada with a 10 point action plan for the betterment of the game.

Reduce Financial Barriers to Entry

Since the majority of lower class, lower middle class, and single income families typically can not afford to have their children play hockey, the governing bodies must find ways of lowering the costs of individual player registrations and hockey equipment.
In towns and cities across the country more subsidized or provided at a nominal fee “Learn to Skate” programs and “Introduction to Hockey” programs need to be offered to capture more family’s interest and participation.
More initiatives like the Comrie’s Sports Equipment Bank, recently launched in Calgary, need to be created across the country. The Equipment Bank is a not – for – profit organization. Russell Gillespie, the General Manager of the Calgary program states “We are trying to breakdown financial barriers between kids and their chosen sport”. “We encourage anyone…to get in contract with us to help as many kids as possible…help them play.” For additional information visit www.comriessportsequipmentbank.org

Address Visible Minorities and Changing Demographics

Canadian families are having fewer children. According to recent Health Canada information, the Canadian fertility rate is 1.5 children per woman aged 15 to 49 which is well below the replacement rate of 2.1. This is considered among the lowest birth rates in the world.
We are living in an ever changing society where other sports, digital gadgets, youthful pressures from schools and part – time jobs take precedence over the game of hockey. With respect to other sports more and more children have been gravitating to sports such as soccer where the participation costs for registration, travel and equipment are significantly lower than those for hockey.
Declining interest from a changing population. Low birth rates in Canada are being offset by a steady flow of immigration from non-hockey playing countries. Statistics Canada data from 2006 states that among recent arrivals of immigrants, only 32% of their children participate in organized sports compared to 55% of those of Canadian born parents. Canada will have up to 14.4 million persons belonging to a visible minority group by 2031, more than double the 5.3 million reported in 2006. The rest of the population, in contrast, is expected to increase by less than 12 %. Today, in Toronto over 40% of the population consists of immigrants; in Calgary that number is nearly 30 %.
Conversely, second generation Canadians are far more willing to put their kids in hockey because even though they may not have played the game they have been surrounded by it most of their lives. Parents who have participated in hockey take a more hands on approach with their kids because they can relate to it and both child and parent share in the enjoyment of the game. Attracting immigrants to the game is a core component to keeping the registration numbers up. Minor hockey ads showing ethnic kids and their role models to promote the game and having fun is a key requirement.
Our governing hockey bodies need to produce educational and promotional materials in different languages and put on more hockey seminars to educate people, especially parents, about the game. Hockey Canada has looked at technology to translate its promotional literature into 17 different languages. It’s a critical task.
Minor hockey is dying in many small Canadian communities. As more and more families leave small towns to pursue job opportunities in urban centres, the population continues to decline and the numbers of kids playing hockey is getting lower and lower. This requires amalgamation of rural associations to ice a complete team or teams which results in extended travel and extra associated costs. These costs need to be subsidized.

Subsidizing Hockey from All Levels of Governments

All levels of government must support subsidizing hockey and sports in general. Governments see the value of keeping kids active. There’s a linkage between activity and health care. All levels of government need to step up and work together (team work) to lower costs and make playing hockey more affordable to enable kids to be more active. Lower ice costs to the individual minor hockey associations can be directly passed on to individual participants via reduced registration fees each year.
This is the philosophy of the Swedish government where it only cost $1,000 to play hockey from August 1st to June 30th. All kids, rich or poor, are given an opportunity to excel at the highest level.
 
 Continued Next Week...

Posted by Rex Tucker | Post a Comment

Date: 25/9/2014 9:12 PM UTC

KidSport Calgary is proud to announce that we have partnered with Comrie’s Sports Equipment Bank.

Comrie’s Sports Equipment Bank was set up to help get qualified kids into sport by outfitting them in equipment from head to toe at no cost. The focus in 2014 will be on hockey equipment with the plan to expand into other sports in the spring.

It is staffed by one, General Manager Russell Gillespie and he is currently looking for volunteers to help him on Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s from 10:00am to 2:00pm. He is looking for ongoing commitments as well as shift pick-ups. Your tasks will range from assisting with outfitting kids to assisting with organizing the equipment storage room.

If you are interested in volunteering or know someone who is, please call Russell at 403-569-1172 and you are welcome to check out the website to gather more information, http://www.comriessportsequipmentbank.org/

Please note, since you will be working with kids, a police check is required and once you connect with Russel he will be happy to arrange for you to receive one.

Posted by Rex Tucker | Post a Comment

Date: 19/9/2014 10:49 PM UTC



One of the most important traits for a good coach is strong leadership skills. It’s the coach’s responsibility to help his or her players develop and perform to each of their highest potential. Servant leadership has proven to be an effective method to increase team performance. When the coach serves to make his individual players better, the result is each player is more engaged in the overall outcome of the team’s success. The word “DELIVER” can be used as an acronym to develop a clear structure and get high performance results.

D – Dedicate time and efforts to make the most of all the players. Each player has a unique personality and skill set. Know their strengths and weaknesses and determine their best role on the team for overall success. Make each player’s role on the team important.

E – Educate each player to the best method of improving his or her game. Players must be encouraged to be “students of the game”. Continuous learning is a requirement at all levels of sports. The team is only as strong as its weakest link. Work harder to get better!

L – Learn how your players learn best. Is the player a visual learner, auditory or tactile learner?         Visual is seeing the skill in progress, auditory is to hear the commands, talk about the drill and   tactile  - hands on practice. Find out the best way to take each individual player to the next level of skill development.

I – Intervene – step in and offer special attention if a player on the team seems to have a particular problem and at times struggling with a skill. Individual attention can help immensely in the player having a break through to getting better at a particular skill or part of the game.

V – Validate when the players are doing the proper exercise to increase the skill level. Have a critical eye and correct bad habits. Encourage the proper way and instill proper technique and good practice ways.

E – Empower – continue to give the players the positive reinforcement they need to ramp up the newly learned skills. When players feel good they are more confident and confidence is so important to having athletic success whether at the novice or professional levels. 

R – Reinforce after each game, remember to reinforce the positives of the game, what each player has contributed to that game. Look for the good elements to help create a positive team atmosphere. Continuously building on small successes will facilitate bigger overall successes. Badger Bob Johnson, a former Calgary Flames coach was a master of finding the positives even if this team lost a game 7 to 1! He was very passionate about hockey and keeping things positive!

So coaches take the “DELIVER” approach with your players and you will find that your athletes are developing their skills, feeling good, enjoying the sport, while working together towards overall team successes. This approach will provide a positive learning environment and players will continue to use their enhanced skills in their on ice performance game in and game out to get to the next level.

Posted by Rex Tucker | Post a Comment

Date: 6/8/2014 2:47 PM UTC


Posted by Rex Tucker | Post a Comment

Date: 30/7/2014 4:06 PM UTC



To be described as fearless one may think of a superhero. But embracing change, facing adversity head on, not being afraid to falter and step outside one’s comfort zone is also heroic. 

How you handle adversity can be a great learning experience. To conquer your adversity is to overcome it before it starts. Don’t let fear paralyze you!

Adversity can enter your life in many forms. Adversity can afflict on occasion your personal, family, or work throughout your lifetime.  You may encounter sorrow, troubles, misfortune, hardship, distress or misery from time to time. It will happen to everyone. No one escapes it. But it is how you react to the situation not the situation that is the key. Adversity doesn’t last!  Remember this too shall pass! 

When you face adversity around you remember stay strong to yourself and love the ones dear to you. Remember there are lessons to be learned about life and living. It’s in the difficult times of life when you learn the most about yourself and about living. It is not during the easy, pleasant, the good times of your life!

Learning comes in many forms and you must be able to recognize adverse times as opportunities to learn and grow.  When you do face adversity, step back, taking a macro-cosmic view, looking at the very large picture. Your misfortunes will not last – stay positive and determined to see and experience a better tomorrow.  Assess the situation with objectivity and decide what your next action will be to overcome this situation. Try to think clearly and not let your emotions cloud your better judgment and thought process. Stay calm and carry on!

As you gauge the matter or situation, remember this experience too will teach you a valuable lesson. It will strengthen your mind and being for the future. You will grow and get better! You will overcome this adversity – strong timbers grow in strong breezes!  Bad things and times can often happen to good people but they will not last.  A strong will power and positive spirit will prevail for you to experience and live a better tomorrow! 

Posted by Rex Tucker | Post a Comment

Date: 23/7/2014 5:08 PM UTC



Many parents start coaching hockey when their first child begins to play. After attending an early season weekend coaching certification course they begin their journey. For many rookie coaches they will follow their son or daughter through the minor hockey system from Timbits, to Novice, to Atom etc.

I started teaching the 6 to 7 year old age group back in 1997 during my early power skating days in the Czech Republic. Based on my experiences, I wish to share a few pointers on what I have learned and incorporated into my teaching over the past 18 years on the ice.

For starters, one of my favorite age groups is the 6 to 7 year old Timbits / Novice level. It’s so rewarding to witness first hand the improvement in player’s skills, their love of hockey grow on a session to session basis and witness the smiles on their faces! However, on many occasions it can be a very challenging task teaching this age and skill level! Why? Like Forrest Grump’s quote – “You never know what you are going to get!” Some days the kids are awesome – they are eating out of the palm of your instructional hand - paying attention i.e. watching and listening. But there are other days when they are indeed a handful – lacking attention, focus and commitment to skill development. They are kids! I have learned over the years as an instructor - always go on the ice being focused and well prepared; otherwise it will be a valuable lesson in the art of teaching. You will have your hands full indeed and the coaching experience and / or results will not be so rewarding.

First and foremost, what I have learned is that on ice instruction for this age group requires a great deal of patience and the ability to be repetitive. If I had a dollar for every time I have said “Keep your head up”, “Bend your knees” or “Keep your stick on the ice” I would be a very wealthy man. However, it’s important to remember that they are only 6 or 7 years old in their physical, mental and emotional development. Often on ice instructors, coaches and parents need to lower their expectations of what the kids can handle for hockey advancement on a daily basis.

There are often many factors beyond your control in this vocation. Over the years, the Tucker Hockey staff has discovered that many players show up at the rink and can be challenged by any of following:


  • Equipment that does not fit properly especially skates, sticks too long, improper skate sharpenings etc. which endures performance.
  • Lack of a good meal. Players of all ages need proper nutrition and good calories to spend energy.
  • Lack of a good night’s sleep. Player’s need proper rest to enjoy and perform well on the ice.
  • Home and / or school issues can distract players and their enjoyment of the sport.
  • Hyper personality from too much video games being played in their spare time.
  • Sometimes it’s the parent’s wish not the child’s desire to be on the ice. It’s important for parents to listen to their child and understand what activities their child wants to do and enjoy. Do they desire more or less hockey?
  • Also many 6 to 7 year-olds are physically ready, but some kids are not ready because they lack the emotional maturity, to participate in a group hockey program.


This past season I conducted a power skating team session with a Novice minor team. The kids lacked focus, and where quite hyper on the ice. One of the novice team coaches said jokingly “Maybe they are off their meds!” Never thought of it in this way… but there may be a little truth to this statement for some players especially after school during the late afternoon 4 pm team practice ice sessions.

We enjoy and preserve what we love
We love what we understand
We understand because we have been taught
The Tucker Hockey Way!

The Tucker Hockey Way has been to provide a positive and fun learning environment for the kids. The role of the instructors is to teach skating, hockey skills, life skills, and to have fun in the process so as to instill and grow the love of the game. There’s an art and science to connecting with the kids and helping them improve on their skating and hockey skills. It’s a balancing act to teach skating skills, not get too serious and make it an enjoyable experience.

Often we will start teaching a skill and see how long we can work on the skill before we have to change things up! 2 repetitions or 3 repetitions, 1 length of the ice or 2 lengths of the ice of skating, 5 minutes or 10 minutes of skill development. It’s like squeezing juice from an orange. We will see how much we can get out of the group today!  Work on 5 to 10 minutes of skill development and than switch to a fun skating game such as hockey soccer, British bull dog, gorilla drill, battle ship, relay races, tennis ball scrimmage etc. We are always trying to adapt and to be flexible because the group dynamics change from one on ice session to another.

 Here are a few coaching tips that we have employed in our programs to be successful.


  • Name tags on the helmets – it helps to mention player’s names when instructing them
  • Brief intro: of instructors and chat prior to the start of each session
  • Effective communication requires short chats with simple direct language
  • Instructor down on both knees at eye level when talking to the kids, shoulder to shoulder
  • Players have their stick up -  butt end on the ice /  players on one knee
  • Gentle Approach, captivate their interest, instill good values – discipline, respect, work hard and do their best. Instilling good values at an early age is very important.
  • Ask them the odd question to keep them engaged.
  • Keep them active – very little standing around. Explain the drill, demo the drill and get them practicing the drill, correct as they go.
  • Water break every 10 minutes
  • Provide a variety of drills but give them time to play throughout the session.
  • Good hockey stance, strong edge control and balance - the core fundamentals - at this age.
  • Progression for technical skills – it starts with skating fundamentals, progresses to puck control, to passing and then to shooting.
  • Try to improve their skills to do well at the next level – Atom etc.
  • Smile, avoid being too serious or too intense – don’t scare the kids.
  • Avoid negative feedback, lots of praise and positive reinforcement helps learning.
  • Raise your voice to get their attention but a constant diet of yelling gets stale
  • Minimum instructor to player ratio of 1 to 5.
  • High energy – players feed off your energy and mood
  • No sliding on the ice – safety first
  • Notice kids who do a drill correctly and let them demo to the group. Kids want to be noticed and recognized – it helps them pay attention. Their parents like it too!
  • The weaker skating skills include stopping, outside edge control and backward skating. Parents especially love to see their child improve in these areas for sure.
  • Gradual pace - baby steps with more progressions, teaching falling and getting up properly.
  • We often randomly give out most improved helmet stickers to players after each session. They like the recognition and they pay attention and work harder as a result.
  • High 5 the players after each session before going off the ice
  • Praise the kids for a good job well done! Wish them well! Show them you care!


Since 1999, Tucker Hockey has a formula that works, with proven results.  Kids need to feel comfortable on the ice, to be themselves, to be relaxed so that they can listen, watch, and learn. Players will often fall down during the skating drills again and again. We often say you can fall down…we want to see more players falling…it shows that you are trying hard to learn and to improve. But if you fall down you must get up faster than you fall down! Kids need to be instilled with a thirst to learn, to want to come to the rink and to be upset if they can’t. It’s important to have a gentle approach...not to be too intense and end up turning the kids off. It’s so important for player’s to pay attention – to watch and listen in order to maximize their opportunity for advancement. However, not all kids learn the same way, some learn by listening, some by watching, and all by doing. We often use the expression “It’s like throwing a pizza against the wall… more sticks for some kids than others!” It is what it is… have to keep our expectations realistic.

Often parents will ask me what their son or daughter need to work on? My reply “Everything!” at this age level. A player may be a top skater at the Novice level compared to his peers but will he or she be a top skater at the Atom, Peewee, Bantam, Midget or Junior A levels compared to his peers? It’s important to keep working on the skills if a player wishes to progress and excel in the years to follow. A player needs to grow the desire to work hard, to learn to get better.  We want to ensure that we have a positive influence on their skating skill development and love for the game. A better skater becomes a better hockey player. When you become a more accomplished hockey player, you become more successful, and therefore have more fun playing the game.

Bottom line for Tucker Hockey, it’s not about getting players to the NHL, rather it’s about instilling a love for the game, to enhance skating and hockey skills, and to make a “difference” in the life of a child.

Posted by Rex Tucker | Post a Comment

 

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