Let’s talk about hockey camps. What are they good for and how often should I use them? Hockey camps are great for ice time and lots of instruction.
What questions should I ask before going to a hockey camp and why?
What is the goalie to instructor ratio? You are paying for instruction, not time sitting around watching other goalies. Most camps will say 3:1 or 4:1 which is good, I think anything over 3:1 and you might want to find another camp again it is about instruction.
The next question I would ask is if it is 2:1 or 3:1 who the instructors are. From my experience camps tend to sell their camps based on a single name Insert your NHL goalie name here. Well, if that camp has 25 goalies on the ice for 3 hours how much time my son or daughter will get to learn from that person. Most of the time, your child will spend time with another instructor. Who is that instructor? You will find very few camps with 6 or 7 big names; most camps will pick up local college kids or “certified instructors” who sat in a room, watched videos and are now “qualified” to teach.
I would prefer a smaller camp with the best qualified over someone trying to fill the ice with 20 goalies.
Who are the shooters? Most camps do not have the resources to bring 5 goalie coaches and 10 shooters. Why are shooters important? Simple, when shooting drills start that shooter must be able to place pucks to the area being worked on. The shooter also must be able to look at the goalie and determine how hard to shoot the puck. Younger kids need a gentler approach while the older kids need a better harder shot. It is not as easy as it looks to put 10 shots in a row to the upper glove side every time. Lastly the shooter must be able to know how much time to get set for the next shot while keeping the drill moving forward so each goalie gets a rotation to practice the skill they are working on. Shooters matter.
Goalie camps are great for giving instruction and ice time but let us also think about learning principles. How much information can you retain in an hours’ worth of instruction? For everyone that is vastly different some kids will retain a lot of what they learn while others will only retain a few bits and pieces. So, the question is how I practice what I learned after the camp.
Here is one thing one of the associations did in the past. The association put aside money for each team and hired goalie coaches for each team. The coach said they are twice a month for 30 minutes. It usually worked out where the coach was, they were for the last 30 minutes of one practice and the first 30 minutes of the next practice. The coach took the goalies to one side of the ice and had individual instruction while the team worked on other drills.
Another thing I have seen is where the association hired an outside goalie coach to give group instructions once or twice a month to anyone who showed up. The association also used their most experienced players as shooters for the hour. I have seen this done where the association picks up the cost or the parents pay for the ice and instructor.
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