VIAHA Bantam-A/Female Royals

VIAHA Bantam-A/Female Royals

Team News

Three Critical Aspects of Puck-handling

Posted by: John C on Wed Jan 18th 2012 2:45pm

Kim McCullough (from must have been listening in on our practices. She gives a good summary of some of the things we've been preaching:

The three critical aspects of stickhandling for players to learn are: head up, soft hands, feet moving.

You can have the fanciest moves in the world, but if you can only execute them with your head down, you aren't going to be very effective on the ice. This goes back to the idea of making the best decision possible with the puck. In hockey, you constantly need to be aware of what's going on around you. When you keep your head down, you are only aware of the puck. With your head up, you can decide whether making your fancy move is most appropriate, or whether you should simply protect the puck, make a pass or shoot the puck. It is absolutely critical that players become comfortable with handling the puck with their head up from a very early age. It is definitely something that can set you apart.

The concept of having soft hands is another one that players must embrace. Far too many young female hockey players stickhandle like they are chopping wood. When it comes to having soft hands, it is absolutely essential that players get their hands out in front of them and away from their body. For some strange reason that I haven't quite figured out just yet, girls' tend to stickhandle with their top hand glued to or next to their hip. This makes it very difficult to have soft hands as your top wrist has no room to roll back and forth. It also limits your range of motion with your stick making it nearly impossible to handle to puck on either side of your body. Players must get their hands out in front of them, allowing the top hand to roll side to side while allowing the bottom hand to slide up and down the stick as needed. Your hands cannot be surgically glued to your stick. They must move and adjust to the puck in order to stickhandle effectively. The next time you watch an NHL game, look at how all the players handle the puck with their hands way out in front of them - no top hand on the hip and cradling the puck.

Keeping your feet moving while stickhandling is another skill that players tend to struggle with and must be embraced in order to progress on to and succeed at higher levels. For some reason, when girls get the puck on their stick, they tend to stop their feet moving. It sometimes seems that handling the puck quickly and moving your feet quickly are mutually exclusive. Once players have become comfortable handling the puck at slower more controlled speeds, they must get their feet and hands moving at higher speeds. My college coach used the analogy of the puck being an energy pill. When you receive the puck, it should make you move faster, not slow you down. Your goal should be to be as fast with the puck as you are without it. The players who are able to handle the puck with the head up at high speeds are always the ones who stand out.

So remember: head up, hands in front, feet moving.

Muscle Damage Needed to Grow Stronger

Posted by: John C on Thu Jan 12th 2012 9:06am

A study from New Zealand shows that you should lift weights in multiple sets for maximum strength gain (J Strength Cond Res, January, 2012;26(1):34-39).

A squat means to stand up, place a heavy bar bell on your shoulders, lower your upper body by bending your knees, and then raise yourself up by straightening your knees. The athletes in this study were asked to squat the heaviest weight that they could. This is called the One Repetition Maximum (1RM). They then picked a weight that was 80 percent of their 1RM. The athletes squatted three times a week and were divided into three groups:

* 1 set of 10 repetitions,
* 4 sets of 10 repetitions,
* 8 sets of 10 repetitions.

After six weeks, the athletes doing eight sets of 10 repetitions could squat much heavier weights than those doing fewer sets. Those in the four-set group were not stronger than those in the one-set group.

This shows that you have to damage your muscles to make them stronger. After you do one or two sets of 10, your muscles really start to hurt. If you stop, your muscles usually stop hurting immediately. With each additional set, you increase the muscle damage, and your muscles hurt even more. FOR LIFTING WEIGHTS TO MAKE YOU STRONG, YOU HAVE TO HURT AND REALLY DAMAGE YOUR MUSCLES TO MAKE THEM GROW LARGER AND STRONGER. Of course, you have to know when to stop lifting, because you can pull and tear your muscles if you lift weights that are too heavy for them.

[Source: Dr. Gabe Mirkin, M.D. 12 Jan 2012]

Shooting Like a Girl...

Posted by: John C on Thu Jan 05th 2012 11:38am

Kim McCullough (of wrote this useful piece this week. I hope it helps....

Most girls' hockey players don't shoot very well at all. It is a real compliment if someone tells you "you shoot like a guy".

Some people argue that guys are stronger and can therefore shoot harder. But I can guarantee you that there are plenty of 10 year old boys out there who can shoot better than 15 year old girls. Given that the girls are most certainly bigger and stronger - the "strength" theory doesn't hold true.

The biggest reason why girls don't shoot well is a lack of practice I would guarantee that every young aspiring male hockey player willingly goes out in the driveway and will gladly shoot hundreds of pucks by themselves. Most girls' hockey players won't do this.

But to be honest, the ones who end up playing at the next level always do.

One of the major reasons players get to the next level is their willingness to do things that their teammates and opponents aren't willing to do. And going out in driveway and practicing their shots for hours is one of those things most girls won't do.

I believe that one reason for this is that working on your shot is far from being social. It is a very solitary pursuit. Many girls' hockey players are particularly drawn to the sport because of the social aspects of the game.

This is not a knock against girls at all - it's just a very different focus that the boys have. The focus on the social side of the game is very useful in terms of developing a cohesive team - but it is quite often something that costs girls in terms of individual skill development. Since working on the other individual skills, especially skating, passing and checking can only really be done effectively on the ice, coaches have a tendency to spend time on developing these skills as opposed to focusing on teaching the basics of stickhandling and shooting - which can be practiced quite effectively away from the ice. For players looking to get an advantage over the competition, spending time away from the rink working on shooting (and stickhandling) makes a huge difference.

This doesn't mean heading outside and working solely on your slapshot. Although, to be perfectly honest, having a great slapshot in girls' hockey is such a rarity that it isn't a waste of your time by any means. Players must develop all of their shots in order to be most effective in games. This includes: wrist shots, slapshots, backhands and snap shots.

The second layer of shooting development includes learning how to execute these shots at full speed. This means learning how to shoot in stride, how to adjust your body position in space so as to get off an effective shot and understanding which shot to use in different situations.

One other part of shooting that is often neglected is tipping the puck. While this isn't a direct shooting skill per se, it is a critical aspect of scoring goals that most players don't do very effectively. Players must be taught how to screen a goalie effectively and how to position their body and stick so as to tip the puck effectively. Players often stand too close to the goalie, or even worse, just off to the side, making it easy for the goalie to see the puck or tipping it so close to the net that the puck doesn't have time to change direction significantly and making it virtually impossible for the player to score off the rebound if there is one. This may seem like a minor skill - but in the world of girls' hockey, where not nearly enough goals are scored, the ability to tip the puck effectively and finish rebounds can be the difference between winning a close game or coming up short.

I always tell my players that it never says on the score sheet how the goal went in the net - it just says "goal". So not every shot has to be into the top corner and not every breakaway has to end in a beautiful deke.

A goal is a goal and into to score effectively, players must develop their entire arsenal of shooting abilities. Being able to score goals consistently is a hot commodity in girls' hockey and will make players very valuable and very much sought after at the next level.

Stretching Does Not Prevent Muscle Soreness, Nor Does It Reduce Injuries...

Posted by: John C on Thu Nov 03rd 2011 9:30am

Stretching Does Not Prevent Muscle Soreness

Gabe Mirkin, M.D.

An article in the British Medical Journal shows that stretching before and after exercising does not prevent next-day muscle soreness or injuries. Researchers in Australia reviewed five studies, involving 77 subjects, on the effect of stretching on muscle soreness. Data from two studies on army recruits in training show that muscle stretching prevents one injury every 23 years. Yet most coaches think that stretching prevents injuries because most coaching instructions are developed by observation, not controlled studies.

Muscles and tendons tear because the force on them is greater than their inherent strength, so the prevention of injuries should be aimed at strengthening muscles, rather than stretching them. Stretching can make you a better athlete. Longer tendons allow a greater torque on a joint to generate more force to help you run faster, lift heavier, throw further and jump higher. Stretch to become a better athlete, not to prevent injuries.

Stretching before or after exercise does not prevent muscle soreness or reduce risk of injury: systematic review BMJ Volume 325 pp 468-70, 451-2

Source: Dr. Mirkin, Nov 2011

Post-game snacks that will speed recovery

Posted by: John C on Mon Oct 10th 2011 8:34am

Just a clarification about the request for "post-game snacks that have a carb and a protein".

Take a quick read:
Recovering from Strenuous Exercise.

Some suggestions:
- Chocolate milk (Costco has individual ones that don't need refrigeration)
- Clif bars
- Protein bars (cheap house-brand ones at Wal-Mart)
- Mini protein shakes (Costco or Superstore)

Let me know if you have other good ideas and I'll post them here.

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