Archive for September, 2013

Our first official practice after the initial introductory sort went well last week. I will be helping the IP1 instructors develop their practice for the next short while. This means that I need to leave Merivale at 2 and travel to Bell for the IP2 practices from 3-8.

Based on what I saw first week in IP1:

Based on the first practice there are a few “givens”

  1. Instructors did a good job with a new face (me)  in charge. They still need to more actively engage players but they showed great patience and even better instincts..
  2. We need more than 5 “beginning skater” set ups. We will probably be more successful if we pull these skaters aside and get them more comfortable on skates. Orange buckets worked very well.
  3. Overall skating is actually pretty good and I think we need to try to push the players. The IP1 Phase 1 guidelines (first half ) of our practices focus on:
  • Stance (bent knees head up, weight off sticFalling down and getting up
  • Balance while stepping in all directions
  • T push start
  • Glide / hop with balance – both feet
  • Power stride
  • Edge control – turn
  • Edge control –  one foot stop
  • Stationary stick handling
  • Sweep shot with  forehand and backhand
  • Passing while stationary

Other observations

  1. The number of crying players was less than I expected
  2. Stopping and backwards skating is weak for almost everyone. This is to be expected.
  3. Sticks still need some attention – knobs and length
  4. Some skaters do not have labels on their helmets yet
  5. Parents need to be reminded of the contents of the trainer kit – extra equipment, mouth guards laces, helmet repair.Some players are wearing poorly fitting equipment – like pants that touch their skates! These need to be addressed.

 Practice plan IP1

Warm up:   Skate with balls (10 minutes)

ALL IN one end (10 minutes)

Fast as you can to the other end and back

Fall and get up at every line to the other end and back

Push and glide on one foot (other foot coming back)

Hop every line to the other end and back

Beginning skaters together for the whole time to work on finding their edges

6 Stations ( 5 minutes per station):

Hoola hoop relay                                       (balance)

Fetch  balls with plungers                       (balance and over all skating)

Push the tire                                               (stance – power push not shuffle)

Skate through pylons                               (balance, edge control)

Stick handling in place                             (stick handling with puck)

Backwards skating with hoola hoops  (balance, c cuts , backward skating)

Game: (5 minutes)

Follow the leader (Simon says) in the four face off circles


Equipment needed:

Blue pucks

Balls and plungers

Hoola hoops




Practice outline Saturday Sept 28 Bell 3- 8

Based on the first practice there are some obvious areas to begin to work on:

  1. Overall stability when skating and especially when changing direction
  2. Handling the puck
  3. Stopping
  4. Balance
  5. Backward skating
  6. A few of our skaters are still learning – they need some extra time to work on skating

Equipment needs:

20 bike tires

20 ringette rings

Blue pucks

4 sets of hotdog, hamburger and fries


Warm up skate with pucks (5 – 10 minutes) –Bike tires  (20) in the neutral zone. Encourage kids to try to “deke” around them.


Wave drills will be shorter ( 10 minutes):so we can work on our stations

  1. Fall and get back up at every line
  2. Stop with one foot at every line
  3. Skate as fast as you can to the end and back
  4. Skate as fast as you can pushing the puck with one hand


NOTE: We will not use a rotation method for our stations like we did last week.

Each team goes to their own end and be divided into two groups in the circles for the first 7 stations (NO ROTATION). Time span no more than 5 minutes per station for a total of 35 minutes

Four instructors per team – Two instructors per circle group.

The group stays together for the first 6 stations inside the blue line.

 Each group will have a circle and half the ice.

  1. SHARK SKATE – sharks can’t ever stop swimming.

Random skate in both circles INSIDE the circle (No contact allowed)

 Vocab:   “Head up, Skate in all directions. Don’t stop.  Stay inside the circle. Don’t bump into anyone.  Use the whole circle not just the outside.”


Skaters skate around their circle INSIDE the circle SLOWLY in one direction exaggerating the leg over and then repeat in the other direction.

Vocab: “Slow down ! Cross your leg over in front of the other. Stick toward the centre”


Players arrange themselves around the circle and stick handle a puck back and forth across the faceoff circle line.

Vocab:” Keep your head up, your feet shoulder width a part  and relaxed. Cushion the puck by moving your stick back and tilting it a little to receive the puck. Leave your lower hand loose and turn the stick with your upper hand.”


Players make and call out for the pass

Vocab: “Pass to the person who asked for it.  Look at where you want to pass. Keep your head up. “ 


Introduce ringette rings (half of the number of players) keep away / steal from other players by lifting the stick

Vocab: “Keep skating. Lift the stick. Protect the ring with your body. Keep pushing down on your stick.”


Players arrange themselves around the boards and shoot forehand and backhand shots

Vocab “Keep your feet shoulder width apart and your knees bent. Keep your feet sideways to the boards. Control the puck” 

7.       HOP

Players place their sticks on the ice in a random pattern in their 1/4 of the end of the rink and randomly skate – stepping over every stick.

Vocab: “Lift your feet. Keep your head up. Don’t bump into anyone.  There is no order.”     

 IMPORTANT: When finished players put their sticks in the net. I want to check all of them for safety issues.


Teams stay on their own half and do two person Blob races  (may need 3 to a bike tire

– NO instructors in the blobs – this is a safety reason – Instructor launching player never ends well!!)

When finished players go to the net and pick up their sticks.

Tunnel Up and say goodbye

Two hours of bonus ice – what an opportunity!

Thanks to Travis, Matt, Leo and Dylan the IP2 instructors for coming out. Thanks to the 5 coaches who came out to see if they could pick up any ideas – you skated well. Let me know if you would like a copy in electronic form of what we did with all those rings, basketball net, hurdles, plungers, balls, rubber sticks and frogs.

And super duper thanks to the 8 players who came out to run through the drills. We could not have done it without you!

Never miss a blog again

Posted: September 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

One of the nice features of a wordpress blog is that you can ask it to send you a notification when I post a new blog. That way you are never ” out of the loop”.

Just a reminder – the blog is for distribution of information to parents, players and anyone else who follows it.

It is NOT a forum for discussion. If you want to comment I promise I will read them but I will not be posting any of them on the blog. If you want to contact me use the gmail

Lots of cool things coming for our Timbits – I will always try to keep you informed.

Great start to the IP season!

Posted: September 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

Today was our first official IP1 and IP2 practice.

1P1 first four hours 7 – 11 went well. Orange buckets are amazing I will definitely  buy more… for sure! They not only helped skaters learn to develop power but allowed all skaters to participate. The IP1 instructors did a good job – it is always hard when a new head instructor is on ice and does things in a different way. The expectation is that instructors will interact with the players and create an atmosphere where everyone will be happy. Learn through play has an attitude component.  This is the way that IP1 will look this year… and I think the Timbits will improve in leaps and bounds. Just wait until you see the other toys.

IP2 next 5 hours 11- 4 This was the first time my rookie Ip instructors were all together with the more experienced ones. I am totally pleased with them. They clearly cared about the Timbits and were all pleased with the day. Players are lucky to have them..kudos to rookies Matt, Josiah, Dylan and Leo and to the veterans Adam, Derek, Travis and  Matt. Special thanks to all of them for hauling all that gear out to the van!

Tomorrow 7 – 9 am at Nepean Sportsplex 1 (the big rink) I will be doing a part practice /  part instructor instruction sessions. Any players who want to come out are welcome to attend. Any dads (or moms) who are NMHA coaches can also come on ice with helmets, gloves and sticks.

I survived 9 hours on ice an still have a smile on my face – that will last until the end of the season. It was great to see both IP1 and IP2 – nice to see a connection begin to develop between them. It will be a great year if the start is any indication. 



Thanks Parent Bench Reps (PBR)

Posted: September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

Thanks to all of those who volunteered to be Parent Bench Reps now the fun begins.

The parent bench reps may not have any on ice responsibilities but they are an important part of the IP program. The on ice instructors count on the parents reps to:

1. Pick up your jerseys and socks and establish a team identity-This will require a team name, a sign for the change room door and some “team culture”. For many of these players and parents this is their first time as part of a team sport. A huge part of hockey involves the “off ice culture”  

2.  Take attendance and monitor the emotions. Please let the head instructor know when attendance or emotions are  an issue. Players and parents differ in not only their experience with hockey  but  in their comfort level. It is critical that the instructors know when players and for that matter parents are unhappy so we can talk over the situation so that minor problems don’t “grow legs” and get blown out of proportion.

3. Help players get their equipment on – especially skates, mouth guards and neck guards on. This will also include making minor repairs to the helmets. Each team has 20 players so there is not much room in the change room for parents with strollers or other siblings. THIS IS A SAFETY ISSUE players fingers can be very badly injured by being stepped on. It will be even more important in January during our mini games when two teams will be in a single dressing room. Parents need to be reminded to be there 20 – 30 minutes before the scheduled time. Most parents will find it easier to bring their players dressed except for their helmet and skates. No players are allowed on the ice without full gear. I will have a bag of loaner equipment (helmet, gloves, elbow pads, shin pads, 2 sticks) that bench reps can access. I also have a trainer kit with first aid supplies, helmet repair parts and new mouth guards parents can purchase for $10. First aid is not the responsibility of the parent reps. The on ice head instructor and their staff  will serve as trainers in the rare event that there is an injury.

4. Make sure that all player’s gear is labelled with their name. The parent rep should bring all gear left in the dressing room so they can “reappear” the following outing.

5. Make sure that each player brings a water bottle to the outing with their name on it. These bottles are to be taken to the bench by the parent reps and brought away at the end off the practice or game.

5. Adjust skates during the practice. Some players will find their skates too tight or not tight enough – (the Goldilocks dilemma)

6. Be another set of eyes watching the practice or game. Even though we will have 10 instructors on the ice –  sometimes events will occur that instructors will not see. The three most common issues are players pushing or tripping each other, players who get hurt and players who are crying for some reason.

7. Talk to the head instructor about what is happening on ice and what is going to occur in the next week or so. There are two obvious reasons for this. First, parent reps are the obvious first link in communication between the parents and the instructors. Second, many of the parent reps will be next year’s Novice coaches as players move up to Novice from IP so it would be beneficial for you to understand what was done in IP. The props used in IP work every bit as well in Novice , or Atom or….

8. Pass on information to the parents and players. I hope everyone adds a link to the blog so it will automatically send it to their email BUT if they don’t then PBR are the way to get information out. Since we will skip ice clears after the first and third sessions there won’t be a lot of time to talk with parents between practices. That is why every parent will get a business card with not only the blog but also my gmail address on it. 

9. Plan  at least a few “social events” for team bonding for both the players and their fans. This is the off ice culture that is so important. Since our practice times are already posted on the NMHA website so planning a team breakfast at Broadways ( or the like) is pretty straightforward.If you plan a meal at Broadways make sure you tell them it is NMHA IP .

10. Help parents decide on whether to participate in ” Fun days ” that leagues around us will sponsor in the new year. These are fairly expensive but is as close to a tournament as an IP can participate in. You are not allowed to attend any before January and no more than two are allowed.

11. Help the on ice instructors (from the bench) in our evaluation of player skills using the “report card” that I just published on the website.

12. Help plan the final “Fun tournament” in mid April 

13. Offer insights into the on going development of the IP program this year as well as suggestions for next year. I really do want to know what YOU think!

So let’s get started!

This Saturday IP2 will be on ice at Merivale 11 – 4

I will be helping IP1 from 7 – 11 …so I should be really warmed up!


Assessing your Timbit

Posted: September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

Hockey is made up of a fairly large number of separate skills that all combine to impact the overall ability of a hockey player. These are all learned and therefore can all be improved. That is why the pros still have skill coaches and work on “techniques”. Like all things in life skill development requires practice but that practice requires a willingness to engage. We far too often encourage players to “do what they are good at”. This seems logical since we want players to have fun and be successful and this is always easier to do when you build on  something you are comfortable with. This is why most players can turn one way far better than the other and most adults reduce their stops to a one foot version. In my opinion there is no such thing as a “natural hockey player”. There are players who seem to pick up the skills faster than others but guaranteed all players will find the thing they find hard… and that is what they need to practice. Everyone can play hockey if they commit to trying to develop skills through practice. Attitude is the limiting factor in most athletes not their genetics or training. Coach Allen in the NFL was famous for the quote:

“Success is made up of equal parts attitude + aptitude + hustle  (AAH) … and the last one is the most important since without it the others can never be successful. Make sure that your Timbit not only comes to every single practice and game but tries their best to have fun and learn. During the year some of our Timbits will struggle with one skill or another. This is an expected event made even more sweet when they finally accomplish it. One of my all time favourite memories is of one of my a players in Atom who struggled to skate backwards but never gave up… who went on to play major Junior A and was drafted to the NHL on defence. When your Timbit struggles with something encourage them to keep trying –  to push themselves to get better and tell them when you see improvement. All our players will learn through positive comments. Every player in the NHL played the equivalent of IP and learned every skill they show during games. 

The IP program is based on “Learn through play” meaning that players will be encouraged to gain skills while playing “games” on ice. All of these are “games” are designed to sequentially teach skills. Keep reading this blog to see what and why we do what we do on ice. As always ask me if you ever wonder why we do what we do.

This year I would very much like to evaluate all players in IP using something like the following “Report card”. We have been evaluating players the previous two years – we just never put it on paper.The strength of the NMHA version of IP2 is that we have enough instructors to differentiate program. My instructors have already been reminded that the expectation is that they will challenge in a positive way all skaters.  If you own a video camera then you might find it interesting to take a short video of the earlier skill set and see how the Timbits improve. I promise the change will be dramatic. That is the job of the 11 on ice instructors in IP2.

I am not 100% sure of how we will modify or use this report but I wanted to share it with parents and players as at the very least a shopping list of skills they will develop. As you can see te players will be evaluated based on the scale “needs work”  “satisfactory for this stage in development” and “strong”.

If you want let me know what you think. I will not be posting comments since this blog is not  a public forum for comments on comments but I will read all of them.


NMHA IP2 Player Progression Card

Evaluations are based on expectations for the age group at the time of evaluation

Name: ______________________________# _____ Evaluation period: Beginning   Middle    End

Equipment Check:


  • Helmet  
  • Skates
  • Stick

Overall Skating forwards              Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Posture                                           Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Stationary balance                         Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Ability to get up                             Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

T push start                                    Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Stride                                               Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong                        

Overall Speed                                Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Edge control                                   Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Ability to turn                                 Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Front foot cross overs                  Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Overall stopping                         Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Snow plow stop                           Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

One foot stop                              Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Two foot stop                              Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Backwards snow plow                Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

 Overall skating backwards     Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Balance                                      Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

C cuts                                         Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Ability to move sideways          Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Backward cross overs               Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Overall puck handling              Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Stationary stick handling           Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Pushing the puck                        Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Body position with ring                Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Through pylons with puck           Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

In close quarters with puck         Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Passing forehand                          Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Passing backhand                         Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Receiving a pass forehand          Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Receiving a pass on backhand    Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Overall Shooting                           Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Forehand                                        Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong

Backhand                                        Needs  Work    Satisfactory    Strong