Have a little Blackhawk-in-the-making at home? There are a few simple ways that you — their No. 1 fan — can help them achieve their dreams.
Create an action plan
Begin by outlining goals, which should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and within a designated timeframe. Setting smart goals and creating a plan will help to measure improvement, thereby giving kids a reason to stay motivated.
Do the homework
By watching the NHL, kids can learn from the best players in the world. While watching a game with your kid, point out how Patrick Kane finds time and space. Take the time to note how Pavel Datsyuk protects the puck after beating a defenseman. Talk about how Sidney Crosby uses his edges to change speeds and direction in small areas. Educating kids about the best of the best in the game they love is key.
Focus on the fundamentals
The most crucial skill in order to be a successful hockey player is the ability to skate. Being “slippery” and being able to change speed and direction is essential. Players who are able to carry speed in small areas and utilize their edges to get a quick start will find themselves winning puck battles all over the ice.
Coaches want to see players who are able to play each wing, center and defense. At a young age, players should learn how to play every position and even take a crack at playing goalie. Seeing the game from multiple perspectives will help to develop them as a well-rounded player.
Utilize all resources
Encourage kids to ask their coach or a teammates for help or advice. Most coaches create practice plans to work on a specific skill or aspect of the game their team struggled to execute during the games the week prior. It’s important to motivate players to understand the purpose behind each drill instead of merely going through the motions.
Practice, practice, practice
Find some space at home for your player to work on stickhandling and shooting. Set up targets to shoot at or obstacles to stickhandle around. Being able to control the puck and shoot through traffic are important skills on higher level teams.
Have fun with it
Remember, hockey is not all about winning — especially at the youth level. To keep practice from feeling like a penalty, change up training routines with elements of hand-eye coordination skills, or try something unique to improve stickhandling. Have them play keep-away from the dog with a tennis ball or try to learn new moves.
Above all else, always make sure your child is having fun each and every time they step onto the ice.
Register for classes at Morgan Park Sports Center by visiting the Chicago Park District website and selecting “Programs.” For more information, feel free to contact Kevin Coyne at 773-840-3641 or KCoyne@MorganParkSportsCenter.net.