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Posted: Friday, December 6th Filed in: General
PRACTICING LIKE A PRO
By Diane Ness
As teams are picked and practices are now in full swing, how can skaters become better? When I work with the pros in the summer, there is so much attention to detail while working on skating. If younger skaters were able to learn and understand this concept, they would make great strides throughout the year. Granted, we are working on skating and skating-specific drills in the summer, but the general idea always applies. Practice makes permanent, practice how you play, and make sure you focus on details each and every practice.
In all reality, there are thousands of skaters beyond college that play at the next level. There are so many pro leagues and there are so many good players. What are some of the traits that make the top players the top players?
First, work ethic is a foregone conclusion. Everybody works hard. When doing the skating sessions in New Jersey for the summer development camp, everyone has an incredible work ethic. There are over 50 draft picks and free agents that attend these camps each summer and every NHL team has one. When players show up, they tend to find out quick there are tons of guys in their very same position. Everyone works hard.
The difference when we look at skating is the player’s ability to have what I like to call “uberfocus.” The guys that understand and process what is being taught and are able to put it into action. It goes from their brain to their feet and they are able to execute the skating skill fluidly.
When looking at youth levels, there can tend to be a “good enough” aspect to skating skills. Drills may be done, but are they done well? Are drills used as fillers or with a purpose?
Two years ago, New Jersey Devils captain Bryce Salvador came to Minnesota to skate the entire spring. He was coming off a season in which he had a bad concussion and basically had to start from square one again. The first day he made a comment how he is an older veteran player that just needs basic skating and doesn’t need exotic drills. He just wanted to keep it simple and do a lot of repetition on the basics and try to get better each day. Each session was filled with drills that may become monotonous to some skaters, but not to him. He made huge improvements in a three-month span. That very next season he had an outstanding run to the Stanley Cup Finals and signed a new three-year contract worth $9.5 million dollars. Not bad for a guy that just a short year before that was working on one-foot glides.