Hockey Skills Canada Experience

A few weeks ago, I was selected along with 15 other coaches to attend the inaugural Hockey Skills Canada Coach Program in Calgary.

Interestingly, what was clear from day 1 is that the practices of Hockey Canada are changing and we were going to be challenged. Our task was to share our perspective, ideas, and vision to help influence and drive this shift.

Openness and willingness to grow

In short, I can say that this collaborative opportunity was awesome. This was a  great experience. We all checked our Egos at the door and had many positive discussions.  For the first time, I witnessed the Hockey world show openness and a willingness to change old ways.  (though this is something I have been witnessing in the Strength and Conditioning world for the past few years).

Our group consisted of assistant coaches, skill coaches, junior coaches, college coaches from rival Canada West CIS teams, along with pro players, and the Skills Coaches for the National Women’s Team. These coaches all contribute to  curriculums for Skate Canada.

The days were long, but the collaborative energy was high. Through the combination on-ice practical sessions, skills practices, and classroom lecture we truly learned lots. One of my favorite experiences was learning from Dominic Pittis and Mike Kadar. They work for the Calgary Flames and Detroit Redwings / Pittsburgh Penguins as strength and skills coaches. We view the game from a similar perspective, having the ability to combine our knowledge of strength and conditioning with on-ice skills training. It was reassuring to see the similarities between our programs at Evolution Hockey and what they are working on with the games greatest players- Crosby, Malkin, Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Gaudreau.

Key Insights

A few key insights that stuck with me, and I believe will excite you too, are as follows:

  • It will be interesting to see how Hockey Canada’s increased emphasis on skills and coaching development will influence young up-and-coming players over the next 5-10 years.
  • Canada is beginning to adopt more coaching jobs, something other countries have been doing for some time. Elite level Coaches are working with grassroots level hockey coaches to help teach young players more about the sport.
  • In Canadian Hockey, everyone is an expert in their own mind. However this is changing, the days of hearing responses like “I don’t need help, I’ve been doing this for years” or “Why would I need a skills coach?”  are ending. Hockey Canada has done a good job delivering the right message. As  a result, these commonly-held opinions are ending. As a result, the other coaches and I are beginning to see a shift in people’s thinking. It seems like, Coaches are realizing there is no way one person can know everything about hockey!  At the rate the game is changing, it is becoming difficult to keep up, as such the openness to seek help is becoming more common

Lastly, I am very fortunate to work with organizations locally who are leaders in understanding these facts. Accordingly, It is very exciting to see how this change in process will positively  impact our younger players.

Most of all, it is an honour and privilege  to be part of this group. Working alongside Hockey Canada was a great experience! I look forward to continuing to assist Hockey Canada in its role as a world leader in hockey innovation!

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