Let’s look at some numbers. A typical recreation player during a season gets 1 practice per week. A season runs September to end of February with a short break in December. That is about a 20-week season. That is only 20 on-ice practices in an entire year. Many recreational (house) players have other interests they may be more committed to, so let’s argue that they attend 80% of practices (16 practices in a year).
A rep/travel level player is meant to get 2 practices per week in most urban associations. Smaller communities might get 3 practices per week, but for this point we’ll look at 2 practices, a home game, and an away game per week. Those away games have a 1 in 6 chance of conflicting with the 2nd team practice of the week. That is 17% conflict rate, or 3 out of 20 weeks where the team may only get 1 practice. In my personal experience, conflict days are greater than 17%, but I will stick to the odds for this analysis.
- 16: Number of practices for an average recreational player spread out weekly at best (often 6 days between practices)
- 37: Number of practices for an average rep player nearly 2x per week over 20 weeks
Follow me so far? Ok good!
Keys to learning hockey skills and concepts
- Listening to and watching an explanation
- Seeing a demonstration
- Practicing / repetitions with corrections
- Trying repetitions again while making small adjustments
- Exploring new skills without fear of failure
Before I dive into the connections between skill acquisitions and summer hockey camps let’s revisit the recreational player analysis again now that you have given your quantitative brain a moment to relax.
Quality of Training
By no means do I mean to discredit the hundreds or thousands of amazing dedicated coaches out there, these are just observations we see more than enough to generalize and make our point. Let’s assume the average player’s on-ice practice experience looks something like this:
- 75 minute practice
- Aggregate 15 minutes standing listening/learning drills
- A coach with often the best of intentions, but not necessarily the skill set to teach, demonstrate, and refine technical skills.
- Assistant coaches slightly less able to demonstrate and make corrections.
- A series of full-ice flow drills that allow players to cheat and execute poorly with bad habits for the sake of the drill at least functioning properly.
- A strong focus on last week’s game, or the upcoming game, in lieu of refined skills training.
- Often one week in between practices, causing many of the key teaching points to be lost or forgotten on young distractible minds before the next practice.
Now for the kicker…
A well run 5 day summer hockey camp will consist of:
- 10 ice times, following a tightly detailed curriculum (often as many as 90-100 technical skill drills in 5 days).
- 10 off-ice sessions mixing fitness and general athleticism.
- Ice sessions focusing on technical skill refinement, decision making, and battle/compete drills.
- Professional coaching with emphasis on key teaching points and correction.
- A minimum work-to-rest ratio of 3:1 over 750 minutes of ice in 5 days means at least 250 minutes of actual repetitions in 1 week compared to 15-20 minutes of repetitions in the best run weekly minor hockey practice.
Do you see where this is going?
A participant in 1 week of a well run professional summer hockey school will get:
- 10x to 15x (15mins vs 250 mins) more repetitions with correction and attention to detail than an average minor hockey week.
- 20 total workouts in 1 week. (That is nearly an entire season of practices for a recreational athlete.)
- Skill refinement and correction jam-packed into one week has a significantly higher impact on muscle memory and retention than practices occurring 1 day per week over the course of a season. I don’t have biomechanics statistics and research on hand (that is fodder for an entire season of blog posts), but any parent who has taken a condensed course of any kind can attest that it is much easier to remember and put into practice content you learned 2 days ago than 2 months ago right?
A participant in 2 weeks of a well-run professional hockey camp can arguably make as many technical gains as a rep player over the course of the entire season.
“Hey Nate, What about games?”
I thought you would ask that. Although there is obvious merit (and fun) in playing games and executing skills in a high level game, it is not all it has cracked up to be. The argument over value of games vs. practice should be left for another post but here are a few highlights:
- The average 12 year old rep player touches the puck for 12 seconds in a game (not 30 minutes like many well-run skills sessions).
- A minor hockey player lucky enough to play for a coach who rotates lines throughout the game may get 6 x 1 minute shifts per period, or 18 minutes of ice in a game. In those 18 minutes the player may get 0-8 shots on goal and touch the puck for 12 seconds, all under pressure with fear of failing.
- He/she probably dumped the puck or got rid of it more often than not, so his/her individual impact on the game, and opportunity to improve in that 1 game… I’ll leave the rest of THAT argument for another day.
The quantitative benefits of well-run professional summer hockey camps are hopefully more obvious to you after this analysis. I’ll leave you now with the qualitative benefits.
Why Summer Hockey Camps are Awesome
- Kids meet new friends.
- Kids get out of their comfort zone having new coaches and new teammates.
- Kids get a great life experience immersing themselves in something they love to do.
- You like it when your kids are taught in school by caring, passionate, professional educators right?
For a complete list of Nate Leslie, of Leslie Global Sports, summer hockey camps around the world please click here. Join our list and we will even send you the complete guide specifically sorted for the age of your son or daughter.
See you in the rink!