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What I Now Know For Sure-Part 2

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At the end of last hockey season I posted a blog titled “What I Now Know For Sure.” https://thehockeysummitblog.com/2015/02/26/what-i-now-know-for-sure/
Some people gave me some nice feedback about it and it was fun to put together. Recently a couple of hockey fathers suggested that I should do a follow up piece as we are getting close to a new season getting underway.
So as the 2015-2016 season is upon us and we are all looking forward to the season, here are 20 more things that I now know for sure.

Remember……this game is supposed to be fun….enjoy!

  1. Late August turns into late December very, very quickly.
  2. The only real constant in this game is change.
  3. I will keep my streak of 20 straight years of incorrectly picking the Stanley Cup winner…..
  4. Backup Goalies will continue to forget to fill the water bottles…..guaranteed.
  5. Some players are going to have amazing years…..
  6. Some players are going to sit back in amazement and wonder what went wrong.
  7. My feet will hurt.
  8. Hockey players will stay with billet families for the first time……. and they will remain friends the rest of their lives.
  9. Shattuck St. Mary’s will probably have good teams……
  10. College programs will commit to players too soon….
  11. College programs will miss out on good players because they feel like they are too old……..
  12. I will still not find a good cup of coffee in any rink……
  13. My wife will wonder why the hell I am going to a rink at 7am on a Sunday morning…..
  14. An NHL coach will be fired by the end of November.
  15. There will be amazing parents in the stands every game supporting and encouraging their children.
  16. There will be complete jackass parents in the same stands disparaging refs, coaches and kids…….please encourage them to be more like #15s…..
  17. Best friendships will develop……..some for life.
  18. Somewhere on the road I will break down and order Poutine…….
  19. Some parents will drive through weather this year that seasoned truck drivers wouldn’t……
  20. By season’s end I will again know for certain that Hockey is still the greatest game in the world.

Best of luck everyone! Have a great season.
Huff

 

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

This is always the time of year that brings questions from young players and families about what to do this summer when a hockey player wants to improve themselves. I have written about it many times in the past. The recruiting season for youth players has ended and now people start to think about all the spring and summer hockey events that they are approached to participate in.

One of the things about getting older and being in the advising business is that you start to have a realization of some strategies that have worked in a player’s quest to play hockey at a higher level and some that have not. I too have lived and learned….and my goal with this blog is to share some information with families and players that they can use to help them to decide what will and will not be worthwhile this summer.

It is also one of my favorite times of the year as I am a huge golf fan and there is no better golf tournament than The Masters in Augusta, GA. That is why I will end this blog entry with a golf analogy.

But for now back to the question, “What should I do this summer?” Obviously everyone is in different situations and at many different skill levels, however there is one thing that I believe in with all my heart which is…there is no one magic pill. There is not one event or singular training strategy that will deliver you to the ‘promised land’.
The key is to work on multiple important areas throughout the entire off season. Some of which are not very exciting or ones you have probably ever thought about.

Here are a few of the following ideas and offerings that in my experience have worked and can work for you!

Adapt a Mindset of Daily Improvement

Start to think about improving daily. A little bit better than yesterday but not as good as tomorrow. Just get better in some area every day of the summer. You have to decide to create a clear trajectory of growth and improvement and to stay on it each and every day. Think about it this way. There are approximately 140 days between now and September 1. 140 small improvements add up to a very much improved player. 

But here is the key. There are so many ways to improve that a lot of players don’t realize and don’t focus on. Here are some examples:

You don’t have to live in the gym but the gym has to live within you.

Physical Improvement
Obviously the one that everyone focuses the vast amount of their time on. Hockey is a game that demands physically elite athletes. Never before has the condition of hockey players been held to such a high standard. There are no shortcuts here. Get with someone who has had success training elite hockey players and has a track record. Your Dad or Coach’s advice does not cut it when it comes to this. You need an expert! If you think you are training hard enough just know that someone out there is training harder. Guaranteed.

Don’t Waste your Training Time
One of the biggest mistakes made is wasting time and doing things that don’t add value to your training program. There are simply too many wasted weekends on meaningless ‘showcase’ events that no recruiters or scouts ever go to. I can’t remember the last time I have heard from a scout or recruiter after watching a weekend event in the spring or summer. It NEVER happens.

This is typically how the stands look like at these events……..

empty

Think about it. In many cases players won’t train hard on Wednesday so they are fresh for a weekend event. They travel Thursday, play short meaningless games all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, travel home and then are tired on Monday and don’t train properly. Almost an entire week wasted…..Not good.

Intelligence
 One area that is overlooked concerning improvement relates to a players intellect. Most people do not realize how smart elite hockey players are. This is an area that can be worked and improved upon even when you are tired. There is no excuse for not reading material that can improve your performance. Below is a suggested reading list. I would start with this must read by former Duke Basketball Star Jay Bilas-

Toughness. http://www.amazon.com/Toughness-Developing-True-Strength-Court/dp/0451414683

The following is a list of some more recommended books.

https://thehockeysummitblog.com/2014/06/09/summer-reading/

 

Talk to a Mentor
Find someone other than your parents or coaches that you can discuss the game with. There are many former players you can find who have played at high levels that you can approach who would love to talk to you about the ride….trust me on this one. Former players that have gone through the good and the bad can give you a unique perspective and help you stay grounded.

In Greece, a ‘Mentor’ is a ‘wise and trusted adviser’.


Don’t be Delusional
 Here is one of the things I am going to tell you NOT to do….and it is important. I always think of the TV show American Idol and some of the contestants who think they are so much more gifted than they really are. You have flaws in your game. Talk to someone who will tell you honestly what you need to focus on improving. Have an open mind. Take the criticism and use it to motivate you.

simon 
You probably just finished tryouts and have been recruited heavily. Coaches have probably told you how great you are and how wonderful your season is going to be. I am here to tell you to forget it all. Don’t listen to it! You are not that good and you are really not that good if you don’t work your ass off this summer. Be humble and be hungry or your results will suck next season.

 

Be Curious/Study
Develop a mindset of curiosity. If you really want to improve, you can do it by being curious. All great players are like this. They have to learn. They study. They watch video. They read articles on all sorts of things that relate to their sport. You can do this every day for as long as you want. Go to YouTube. Watch the highlights of your favorite player. Study them….it’s free! Watch the NHL Playoffs. Look at how focused and committed those players are in every area of the ice. Research players and learn about them.

If you are trying to be recruited to college, learn everything you can about those schools you are targeting. Study the coaches. Learn about them. Know their histories…..their backgrounds. Be ready to impress them when and if you ever meet with them.
Research nutrition and healthy eating habits and incorporate them into your life. Find out what the elite players eat and how they manage their bodies. The internet is a wonderful resource that young players have. Work hard at finding answers.

 

Avoid Mediocrity
Do not become complacent over the summer. This is the real challenge. You may think you are doing enough and training hard enough but like I said earlier,…you probably are not. Just because you have a physical training program does not make improvement automatic. Push yourself to do the less glamorous things I have discussed here. Yes, some of them may seem boring and you may find it difficult, but guess what?….it’s supposed to be hard…..

 

So now for my golf analogy and how it relates to your summer training…

There is a story about a man who longed to be able to golf and play at a level just like his buddies, one buddy in particular. He knew this friend was a good golfer so he set his sights on one day standing up on the first tee and driving a golf ball past his. He wanted to be able to beat him.

He began to take lessons. He spent hours on end at the driving range. Day after day……driving ball after ball….He knew he could one day do it. He improved his driving to the point where he could hit a ball over 300 yards….

But what he didn’t see was the countless hours his friend, the good golfer, spent at the putting green working on his putting and chipping. The boring, monotonous, tedious work. Everyone loves to hit long drives, but few people like to hone their short game skills.

So the big day came and the wanna-be golfer challenged his friend to a match. He showed off his new skill and consistently out drove his buddy on every hole!!…….and lost by 15 strokes…..

What the new golfer failed to realize is that 70% of all golf shots occur inside of 100 yards to the hole.

He did not practice properly. He didn’t practice intelligently……
The game is not about driving…..it’s about scoring.

So this summer, do the little things that make a difference………and keep your eye on the ball.

What I Now Know For Sure

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A while ago I read a book titled, “What I Know For Sure” by Oprah Winfrey. I know….a Hockey Blog referencing Oprah, kind of strange…. I will just say it was my wife’s fault…
Anyway, I’m glad I read it. The book was very interesting and relates to a lot of things in life and makes you think about what you are really sure of. It made me start to think about this past season and my experience coaching the Wilkes Barre/Scranton U16 AAA hockey team. As we are in the last few weekends of the season I have started to reflect back on things and am trying to make sense of a whirlwind season. A hockey season has a great way of teaching you a lot about yourself, your teammates and the people involved in the game.

I love coaching my guys and this age group. It has been an incredibly rewarding year. I am so grateful for the experience.

I’m not really sure how much I learned this season but here are 20 things that I think I now know for sure. (hope you enjoy. This is still just a game remember……)

1. The goalie who is not playing will always, always, always have to be reminded to get the water bottles and warm up pucks. It never fails……

2. Team Managers should always be nominated for team MVP award. Ours should be called the Matty Award. 🙂

3. Practice is the best place in the world to take refuge from teenage problems…..

4. It is virtually impossible to get a good cup of coffee at an ice rink.

5. Your team is never as good or never as bad as you think it is.

6. Team bus trips are still the best…..

7. The hardest working and most dedicated players on your team are probably the ones getting recruited or moving on to higher levels.

8. The only thing you win in October is the respect of your players.

9. There are a lot of good people like referees, scorekeepers, league officials who dedicate a lot of time and effort and get crapped on unnecessarily.

10. Internet hockey ranking sites are ridiculous and distracting.

11. Everyone still wants to play on the power play……..even the parents.

12. Team meals are still the best……

13. Players respond a whole lot better to mentoring and teaching than to punishment and negativity.

14. Never eat seafood on the road that has traveled further than you…..

15. Good practices take care of wins……John Wooden was right.

16. If you treat your players like babies, they will act like babies. If you treat them like young men, they will respond like young men.

17. Music has changed….players listening to it loudly has not….

18. Hockey parents are the greatest, most dedicated, loving, supportive, sacrificing, crazy, whacky, bizarre group of people on the planet.

19. Coaching showcase and tournament weekends might be more tiring than actually playing…..

20. Hockey is still the greatest game on earth.

Best of luck to everyone as the season winds down!

Huff

The Game Will Always Be Here

Last post of the year. I promise…

The game will always be here.

All year we ‘hockey people’ are locked in on chasing our goals and dreams whatever they may be. Then this special time of year comes around and our perspective changes somewhat. Or at least I hope it does.
It really did for me this year.

People involved in this game at any level are all very competitive and focused on trying to be successful. We all have goals and things we are striving to achieve. That is what is great about the sport. It becomes woven into the fabric of our lives. It is filled with all sorts of interesting people and we spend a lot of time with teammates, coaches and colleagues throughout the year.
But this time of year is and should always be first and foremost about family and loved ones. Regardless of your faith…..

I recently was reminded of that and hopefully this last post of 2014 will help you remember that as well.

There are always big holiday tournaments and of course one of the most popular events of the year happens now with the World Junior Tournament getting started. The game marches on….regardless of the season. It always will.

That being said, I do hope you get to take a short break from the game during this special time of year. It can be so healthy.
Good hockey players are said to play with their heads up. So this holiday season take some time to look up and around you, and focus on people who are along with you in your journey, even when the buzzer sounds.  Brothers, sisters, moms, dads, grandfathers, grandmothers, sons, daughters…….friends. I hope you get to take some time to enjoy and cherish their company.
I know I am going to.
It is the season of giving and gifts.

Every one of us is very fortunate to be involved in this game. But some of the real gifts in life are not always hockey related.
But they are related……
Enjoy this special time of year with your family and loved ones.

The game will always be here.

 

Here’s to a great 2015!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Giving Thanks

Some great quotes for this Thanksgiving. Enjoy and be safe this holiday season!

“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” –James Allen

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” –Alphonse Karr

“Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.” Hansa Proverb

“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” –John E Southard

“I feel a very unusual sensation – if it is not indigestion, it must be gratitude.” –Benjamin Disraeli

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” –Thornton Wilder

“Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.'”–Alfred Painter

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” -Voltaire

“The essence of all beautiful art is gratitude.” –Friedrich Nietzche

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” –Dalai Lama

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” -Cicero

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” –Melody Beattie

“It is a sign of mediocrity when you demonstrate gratitude with moderation.” –Roberto Benigni

“Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.” –Jacques Maritain

“Gratitude isn’t a burdening emotion.” –Loretta Young

“Feeling gratitude, and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” –William Arthur Ward

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy.” –Marcel Proust

“Giving is an expression of gratitude for our blessings.” –Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” –William James

“Be thankful for what you have and you’ll end up having more.” Oprah Winfrey

“Silent gratitude isn’t much to anyone.” Gertrude Stein

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” –Henri Frederic Amiel

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” –GK Chesteron

“If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.” -Gerald Good

“Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.” -Confucius

 

 

The Game Reminded Me

If you have ever read any of my blog posts before, you know that I am a big believer in the so-called unique and almost magical qualities that I think the sport of hockey has. (see Yesterday, Hockey Won) Maybe I read too much into things at times but sometimes things seem to jump out to me.
Last weekend I experienced one of those moments.

The game reminded me.

This season I have helped coach a u16 and u18 AAA program where hockey is played at a very high and intense level. Let me first state that I love and care deeply for my players. They are extremely good kids. I also work in the hockey advising and hockey agency world. Believe me when I tell you that I know firsthand how competitive and cutthroat the ‘business’ of hockey can be. It is unbelievable at times. The pressure faced by players and families as the season rolls along is something that still amazes me. I even feel it coaching. The quest to win and put a ‘competitive’ product on the ice so Little Johnny can be showcased properly is something that is real and at times very concerning to me. At the time of writing this post in mid November, our teams have won approximately 85% of their games. During this ‘success’, players have quit (only to return), threatened to quit again, some parents have complained about ice time, questioned coaching methods and techniques, worried about National Rankings, and talked negatively about other players and members of the team to anyone who would listen. This at the same time they are spending an incredible amount of time, energy and money to chase the dream of playing hockey at a higher level. Sounds like fun right??

Our team has traveled first class in beautiful buses. Our kids have been fed well. All have top of the line equipment and we stay in great hotels when we travel. Recently at a road game one of our our players couldn’t find his sticks so he said he would just buy a new one at the pro shop…….probably cost about two hundred dollars….

So all these thoughts and things about our teams and parents were running through my mind last weekend while I was standing at a rink in York, PA, beside the bench of a young team who was playing and where our teams were about to play a set of weekend games.
I stood gazing aimlessly out through the glass while I stressed about my lineup. Who would play with who that day so everyone would remain relatively happy and I would limit the amount of pouting both on the bench and in the stands?..…..

Then the game reminded me.

I snapped out of my fog when my eye caught the face of a young player competing in the game right in front of me, (probably squirt age) who was smiling and laughing his ass off!…….on the ice…….He was having the time of his life.
I looked up at the scoreboard and saw the score was 10-0. I just assumed his team was winning.
Then, shortly after that as I focused on that young smiling player, another puck went in. It was against his team…….they were losing. ……11-0.
And he was still smiling.
By this time I moved a bit closer to his bench and as he came off I watched and listened to the interaction with him and the coach, “Good try Nick,” the coached patting him on the helmet.
“Yes coach, I almost had him……!” Another big smile……..
“Nick, we are doing a lot better……keep it up!”
“Thanks, Coach.”
Another huge smile……And he was not the only one. All the players were smiling……

Glancing down at the Jerseys of the team I saw the Snider Youth Hockey Logo on the front and the moment became even more meaningful. The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, created by Philadelphia Flyers Chairman Ed Snider is a fantastic program that has helped young players from all over the Philadelphia area play the game of hockey who may not have ever had the chance to do so. (Please read more Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation.) A lot of these young players come from very challenging situations. They certainly aren’t concerned about buying their next two hundred dollar stick……
But this blog isn’t about what these young players are missing, it’s about what they have. Whatever they may lack in financial resources, they certainly showed me they make up for with incredible passion and love for playing the game. They have what our players and our parents at times seem to lack. Joy……

I chatted briefly with the coach and he was kind enough to allow me to go into the dressing room after the game and say hello to the kids. I spent the next five or ten minutes chatting with the kids. We laughed and had a great time talking about hockey, who their favorite players are and who their favorite NHL teams are. They told me repeatedly how much they loved getting to play games. No matter what the score……
The coached thanked me for coming in, but I knew right at that moment that I owed him a big thank you.

That day in York, PA., the game reminded me.

It reminded me that this game is still played in its truest and purest form by kids who are smiling, laughing and having a good time as they learn about life…..not concerned about the score and certainly not worried about their national rankings…….
It reminded me how fortunate we are to be around the hockey and why we got involved in this game in the first place.

It reminded me that in some places and at some ages, it’s still just a game and not a business.

It reminded me to remember to smile. To have fun. To enjoy the real beauty of the game……being able to smile no matter what the score.

I just hope my team and their parents watched some of the game and they too were reminded….

Thanks kids!

snider

snider3 snider2

The Grass Isn’t Greener

The Grass Isn’t Greener

We often think that the grass will be greener somewhere else.

We believe we’ll be happier and more successful anywhere but where we are.

And so we pursue happiness and chase success thinking one day we will magically find them. But rarely will we find happiness and success by seeking them.

I’ve learned if you want success you can’t chase it. Instead you must decide to make a difference where you are… and success will find you.

I’ve learned if you want to find happiness don’t seek it. Instead decide to work with passion and purpose… and happiness will find you.

Too many people want instant success and gratification right now! Too many athletes want to be traded because they think they’ll be more successful on another team. Too many employees complain that their co-workers aren’t working hard enough and this affects their own performance. Too many sales people compare themselves to others and become frustrated and disengaged. Too many people worry about what everyone else is doing instead of focusing on what they are doing. Too many people run from challenges instead of developing stronger roots.

If you are like me, you’ve been one of these people. Most of us have at one time or another. It’s human nature after all.

That’s why I want to encourage you not to worry about things you can’t control. Don’t run away from where you are in the hope of finding greener pastures.

Instead plant yourself like a seed each day and invest your time and energy growing yourself and others. When you plant yourself where you are with a passionate desire to make a difference you’ll grow into the influencer you were born to be.

The greenest pasture is not somewhere else. It’s the place where you plant yourself and create a great environment for growth. When you do this, you’ll produce an abundant harvest filled with real success and true happiness.

Where The Goals Are

Watch these 10 goals from the NHL last night. Focus on the net. Look at the traffic. Look at the bodies in front of the goalie and look at how hard the players go to the net.
Go to the net. That is where the goals are!

 

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2014020084-60-h

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2014020087-569-ingame-h

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2014020083-234-h

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2014020079-234-h

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2014020080-43-h

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2014020083-18-ingame-h

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2014020083-234-ingame-h

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2014020085-47-h

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2014020085-584-h

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2014020081-559-h

Don’t Ruin The Ice Cream

I recently read a great post by former professional athlete Keith Van Horn. A fantastic piece to read when you have time. READ HERE

One part of it really jumped out to me and I think it applies not only in sport but in all areas of life. I felt compelled to share.

…..

The parent suffering from DPD can cause their child to become a bad apple on their team.  John Calipari, the current head men’s basketball coach at the University of Kentucky and my first head coach in the NBA once told me a story.  When he was the head coach at the UMass, one year he had a top ten team that had a chance to win a national championship.  They were struggling early and he had a very talented player who was constantly getting in trouble, causing problems at practice and just plain being a cancer to the team.  After trying to help the player both on and off the court, his problems continued and eventually Calipari had to kick him off the team.  After dismissing him from the team, the team began to play great and they made it all the way to the Final Four.  Coach Calipari, after telling me the story said, “Our team that year was like a big tub of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.  All of the ingredients mixed together so well and the result was something great.  But when that player was on our team, he was like a little, itsty bit piece of (expletive that starts with an “S”) in our tub of ice cream.  You put one little, itsty bit piece of (expletive that starts with an “S”) in your tub of ice cream, and all the ice cream is just absolutely (expletive that starts with an “F”) RUINED.”  Parents suffering from severe cases of DPD are like the you-know-what in their child’s team ice cream, causing relationship problems with coaches and teammates.

Whether in sport or in life, it’s great to be part of the ice cream. The challenge is to make sure you are not the little piece spoiling it……

Have a great week everyone!

 

 

10 Unforgettable Quotes

When personal development legend Jim Rohn passed away in 2009, he left an incredible gift: his encouraging, uplifting messages and inspiring, thought-provoking quotes, beloved by millions and shared throughout the world to this day.  For what would be his 84th birthday on Sept. 17, SUCCESS celebrates and remembers the life of Jim Rohn with 10 of his most beloved quotes:

1. “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.”

2. “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”

3. “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”

4. “Days are expensive. When you spend a day you have one less day to spend. So make sure you spend each one wisely.”

5. “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

6. “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”

7. “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

8. “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”

9. “Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.”

10. “Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.”