Monday, July 19, 2010

Practice, Work Ethic and Focus

In my opinion, three of the most valuable attributes to aspiring hockey players are practice, work ethic and focus. If you look at players such as Sidney Crosby in Hockey, Tiger Woods (when he was on his game) in Golf, Peyton Manning in Football, Steve Nash in Basketball, etc. etc. they all have an extremely strong work ethic, a laser like focus and have practiced a ton throughout there young careers.

If we look at Sidney Crosby as an example he was always on the ice practicing and was known as a rink rat in his hometown. He attended hockey school and did so with a purpose. He was (and still is) the first guy on the ice and the last one off the ice at practices. He has an exceptional attitude and is internally driven to get better and to be the best. Of course he has hit road blocks in his short career but those little speed bumps make him stronger and hungrier. Sidney was focused on his goal from a very young age and did everything in his power to acheive it. He practiced deliberately and that would include on-ice powerskating/stickhandling/shooting, off ice conditioning, nutrition, visualization, video analysis, among other aspects. He is not the biggest, fastest, strongest...but I can tell you now that he has worked harder and has been more focused than most (if not all) of his peers over his short career. He makes the most of his ice time.

What can the aspiring player learn from this?? If you want to be the best you can starts with the right attitude and mindset. You need to be positive and not worry about who is beside or behind you in line at your sessions/practices or who you are playing against in your game.....'you get out of it what you put into it'!! To be the best you can do need a great deal of icetime and when you do step on the ice you need to do so with the goal of being better after every session, practice or game. Giving it your all in a (laser like) focused manner with a 'leave it all on the ice' attitude as they say..... will help insure that you take your game to the next level.
Kelly Reed

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Visualization for the Hockey Player!!

Do you want the ability to use a powerful tool that is (free) and used by many Elite Level Hockey Players?? If you want to raise the level of your should!! If you remember during the Stanley Cup play-offs there were images of Mike Cammalleri of the Montreal Canadians sitting on the bench with his stick well before the game focused on the ice and clearly visualizing. He has a pre-game routine before every game to get his mind focused on the upcoming game. That is just one example of many if not most of the top players that use this important tool to elevate their game. I have seen clips and articles on Crosby, Ovechkin, Ryan Miller among others using this mental tool to elevate their games....and who can argue with any of these guys accomplishments!! Below are some tips from Brett Henning and his book 7 Pre-Game Habits of Pro Hockey Players

Visualization is the ability to see yourself positively completing or reliving a scene only in the mind.

It’s been proven to mentally raise a players confidence, decrease anxiety/fear, and physically improve his performance in the specific visualized area.

The most common form of visualization is seeing yourself completing a specific task in the future. We’re going to use it for hockey by visualizing scoring goals, making the big save, winning the last-second faceoff, etc.

You already use visualization everyday whether you know it or not. When you lie in bed on Sunday night and think about everything you have to do that week. When you think about what you’re going to say to the cute girl sitting beside you in English class. When you go to the grocery store and plan the night’s/week’s meals. When you think about the weekend’s hockey games. These are all some form of visualization. You will get deeper and clearer thoughts by practicing visualization techniques regularly.

Limits begin where vision ends. The problem with most people is they think negative thoughts about future activities. One surefire way for success is to stay positive.

“80/20 rule”: Nearly everything in life falls under this concrete rule. Applied to hockey this means that 20% of the on-ice actions you take, make up 80% of the results. Use this rule to narrow down what you want to visualize about.

The most important aspect of visualizing is that you have to actually feel the experience in all of your relevant senses—sight, hearing, touch, and smell. The more intense and real the feeling, the greater the impression is created on the brain.

Visualization’s 3 Steps

1. Relaxing the body and mind
§ Muscle relaxation
§ Breathing exercises
§ Listen to relaxing music

2. Visualization: Vividly experience the game in advance:
§ Slow Motion
§ Game Speed
§ Fast Forward

3. Let It Go: Slumps are mental obstacles that have become bigger than life for the person going through it. It’s a negative loop. There are two ways to get out of a slump:
§ Cure it through laughter.
§ Reframe the obstacle/belief 7 different ways.

I hope this helps!! If you have any questions about Visualization techniques, etc. please feel free to ask.


Kelly Reed

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nutrition Tips for the Aspiring Young Hockey Player!!

Thankfully, more and more young hockey players are starting to make the connection between what they eat and how they play. Staying well fueled is just as important for young athletes as it is for the professional athlete. There is the analogy of thinking of your body as a high performance sports car, let’s use a Ferrari. The fuel you put in your gas tank is food. Would you put the lowest grade of fuel in your Ferrari? Of course not!! But if your kids are enjoying processed fast food on a regular basis you are putting garbage in their gas tank. Would you let your Ferrari run out of gas? No!! You would always make sure it had fuel. Peak athletic performance requires plenty of high quality fuel...not garbage.

Below are some of the most common topics that come up with parents, coaches and athletes. Hydration Tips - Encourage your child to drink by a schedule...not by thirst. Have your child monitor their urine color. If their urine is light like lemonade that’s a sign of good hydration. If it is dark like apple juice, they need to drink more fluids. Have your child weigh herself/himself before and after physical activity to gauge how much weight is typically lost.
A few hours before exercise consume about 16 oz of fluids. During exercise consume about 4-12 oz every 15-20 minutes.

After exercise, have your child replace every pound lost with 24 oz of fluid. Eating for Recovery Immediately following exercise muscles act like a sponge for refueling and optimal recovery. The critical time for replacing these energy stores called glycogen is within the first 15-25 minutes after exercise. Simply waiting two hours can impair recovery and performance. The best option for quick recovery is typically a fluid as hockey players are often not hungry right after practising or playing and it is usually more practical than eating a meal. Surprisingly, one of the very best options for quick recovery is chocolate milk. Yes, that is correct!! The additional carbs in chocolate milk give it the perfect ratio of carbs and protein for refueling. Then you want to follow it up with a good recovery meal. The best foods for refueling are primarily carbohydrates with some protein like eating a chicken breast with some whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce and vegetables.

Recovery Tip - Again try low-fat chocolate milk for recovery.

How to Help Your Child to Gain Weight Safely“How can I help my son gain weight?” is the most common question. It is one that I have asked many times in my youth!! Did you know that it takes approximately 2400 extra calories to build one pound of muscle? Adding lean muscle is accomplished by combining a good training program along with taking in additional calories. This often requires eating even when your athlete is not hungry. Skipping meals is a definite no-no for gaining weight. With limited time to eat at school along with practice and games a planned meal/snack schedule can help add good calories to accomplish a gradual and healthy weight gain.Weight Gain Tip - Add a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after school/before practice and/or before bed. Snacking on trail mix is another easy way to add extra calories. Aim to add about 400-500 calories per day.

What to Eat - Fueling muscles with high performance fuels will improve performance by optimizing energy levels. Eating well gives you energy to practice better which will ultimately help you to play better when it really counts. An easy way to think of eating right for mealtime is 1-2-3.Always have a source of protein such as chicken breast, fish, pork tenderloin, or lean ground beef. Also beans, lentils and eggs can provide your protein. This should be about a 1/4 of the plate. Choose whole grains such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat pancakes, whole wheat pita, whole wheat English muffins, etc. This should be about 1/4 of the plate. Finish off the plate with vegetables. Broccoli, carrots, bell peppers (the more color the better). Take your child grocery shopping with you and let them help pick out some new vegetables to try. Let them know vegetables provide powerful antioxidants that are great for athletes. Talk performance. Adding fresh spinach to a smoothie of frozen berries and milk is a great way to get some veggies in and you can’t even taste the spinach. Vegetables should cover about 50% of the plate.

Below is a Sample Meal Plan for a Young Athlete (Varies greatly based on individual goals, activity, intensity, current weight and gender)

7:45 am Breakfast Bowl of Kashi Cereal with fresh berries1 cup 1% milk
10:00 am Morning Snack 1/2 cup trail mix with dried fruit and nuts (dried cranberries/cherries and almonds)
11:30 am Lunch turkey on whole wheat bread with light mayo/or mustard, 1% milk, baby carrots. Banana
3:30 pm Snack 2 slices whole wheat bread with peanut butter and water, 10 oz Gatorade
5:30 pm Recovery 20 oz Gatorade or Chocolate Milk
6:30 pm Dinner 5 oz grilled chicken, 1 cup broccoli and carrots, 1 cup whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce
8-9 pm Snack Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich on Whole Grain Bread or trail mix.

If you have any specific questions about your aspiring hockey player and his or her nutrition and training practices...please feel free to ask me!!

**Special thanks to Mitzi Dulen for additional resources and info**

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Today's NHL and the Younger Star's

If you have been following the Stanley Cup play-offs this year it has been very exciting for the most part. Quick, high tempo games that have involved many upsets. With that said, it is amazing to see the skill level of many if not most of the players. The game has changed so much in the past 10-15 years. Gone are the days when you would have the old wily vets on the 3rd and 4th lines who would clutch, grab, hook, hold, etc. Sure there are still role players who do there small part for the team....but the difference is they can all skate!! In order to play on the first or the fourth line in this day and age you need to be able to skate. Go down the rosters of these two teams in the Cup and they are great skating teams. Even a role playing tough guy like Daniel Carcillo can move!! The young guys such as Duncan Keith, Jonathon Toews, Jeff Carter, Patrick Kane, Ville Leino, etc are all exceptional skaters. What I am getting at is...if you aren't a strong skater you dont have much of a chance.

If you get a moment try to catch some of the Classic Hockey games from the past. I was watching a gold medal game between Canada and Russia from the 1991 World Juniors fairly recently. It was in the same era when I was with the London Knights of the OHL. Man was it an eye opener!! Canada had Eric Lindros, Steven Rice, Scott Neidermayer, Adam Foote among many others...while the Russians were led by Pavel Bure, Slava Kozlov, Sergei Berezhin, Oleg Petrov, etc. The Russians were, in that game, more skilled (in my opinion) but Canada basically mauled them. The Canadians were determined and hungry.....but what stood out was the clutching, grabbing, hooking and holding. It was unbelievable. Many guys could get away with that back then.....but that is clearly unacceptable nowadays. You must be able to skate!!

This gets me back to the point of the young highly skilled players of today. Why are Crosby, Toews and Richards (all approx 22 years of age) vying for the Cup over the last 2 years as team captains?? Why are Doughty and Keith 2 of the Top Defensemen in the World?? Why is Stamkos one of the Top Goal Scorers in NHL?? These are all very young players that are tremendously talented and all fantastic skaters!! They are not old grizzled vets that are super experienced. They are the new breed of player that is coming to the forefront (Think Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin and Tyler Myers and John Tavares, etc, etc). The skill development of these players at a young age is the foundation to their success. The on-ice training is a lot different and much more advanced then when I was a kid. There are specialized classes, small groups, video, etc. The off-ice training is also much more advanced!! The guys are quicker, stronger, faster, more agile and have better hands and shots then like aged players of the past. All of that coupled with aspects such as nutrition, overall knowledge (and maturity) of the game make the young players mentioned above prepared to step in at a very early age and contribute at an Elite World Class level!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Low Down on Hockey Skates, Sticks and Equipment

I am constantly asked about skates (sharpening, what type, stiffness, how tight/top eyelit, etc), sticks (how stiff, height, color of tape, etc) and general equipment (helmets, shin pads inside or outside of skates, etc). I love to discuss and answer these types of questions. With that said, it is all personal preference. What I like and feel comfortable with is not necessarily the best for other players.

Personally I skate fairly low and use a very short stick and a low lie. It just feels comfortable for me (sternum area). I have also played with and against players that use exceptionally long sticks. Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild uses a stick that is a half inch over his eyebrow's!! That is the other extreme!! Brian Rolsten uses a very stiff 120 flex stick where as Phil Kessel has been known to use a 67 flex intermediate stick!!

With regards to skates, I like my skates with a radius of 7 and the toe and heel of my blades grounded down further. I sharpen them very rarely and when I do I get them sharpened I get them done at 7/8's...where I feel I am on top of the ice. Again I know players that use an exceptionally deep hollow (3 Players on the Edmonton Oilers that are 3/8's), some that do not get their skates contoured, and some that have their skates sharpened all the time.

I personally like a stiff skate that are almost 3 sizes smaller than my shoe. I lace them up lightly until the top 2 eyelits and then I tighten them quite tight. Their are others that wear a more flexible skate, some tape there ankles (as I used to), some where shinpads on the outside/some on the inside of their skates. Mark Messier used to love new skates and was constantly wearing new skates. When I was playing Junior B and then in the OHL...I wore the same skates 3 years in a row!!

What I am trying to get at is there are so many options and every player is different!! I personally like things the way I like them....where many other players wouldn't even consider having their skates, sticks or gear anything close to mine. You need to get properly fitted by a knowledgeable professional, ask questions (to people like myself - who knows the players tendencies), experiment and do what feels right for you and not what Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin or Drew Doughty do!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What to look for in a Hockey Development/Power Skating School!!

This is a topic and question that is often asked.....I answer it, by 'putting the shoe on the other foot.' ’I look at it as a parent that is going to spend hard earned dollars on a program to help my child(ren) . Below are the questions that I asked myself when I started Kelly Reed Hockey.....

1. Firstly, Who is the lead (Head) Instructor at the camp. Is he (or she) qualified?? Are they active on the ice?? Passionate?? Knowledgeable??

2. Have they played Ice Hockey (not figuring skating or roller hockey) at a high level??

3. Can they effectively demonstrate the drills?? and the drills with pucks?? Can they relate the drills to hockey and game like situations??

4. Are they drill sergeant's...or do they understand the technicalities of the skating stride and all of the intricacies of puck handling and pivots and edges and balance and on and on??

5. Are they able to communicate effectively with the kids?? or do they yell, bark orders and demean the skaters?? Do they show an interest in the kids??

6. Are they (and their Staff - if they have one) giving the kids the constant feedback and correction that they need in order to be successful and improve??

7. Is the staff to student ratio good (at least 1 Instructor for every 6 Students)?? do they even have a staff?? How are their ice management skills??

8. Are the instructors qualified?? or are they mostly young kids, if so are they experienced, mature or passionate enough to care about the young skaters at the camp??

9. Is the camp Cost Effective, and does it offer great value for the money (or are you paying for all of the frills, marketing/advertising and fancy shirts, etc)??

10. Do they offer guarantees or money back after the first session if a family or child is not satisfied??

11. Does the staff get the most out of the kids and challenge them to be there best, yet make it fun for them??

These are the types of questions that families need to ask, to both themselves and other knowledgeable unbiased hockey people. Go out and watch the sessions for yourself and compare....this is the best tool of all and it will answer these questions for you!! I highly recommend that you do so!!

These questions are the basis for KELLY REED HOCKEY!! Please ask me these questions or any others you may have and I will be very happy to answer them for you.