I guess I ought to preface this first post with the fact that I’m now working with about my third generation of hockey players. Yes, I’ve coached or instructed thousands of kids over nearly 40-years. So, over that time, you can guess that I’ve pretty much seen it all. And, over that time, I’ve also had the chance to see what seems to work, as well as what seemingly doesn’t. Which brings me to that best-ever advice…
— Dennis Chighisola
Perhaps this short story will give you an idea of where I’m heading, here… You see, a lot of years ago, I happened to be watching a video-tape of the great Denis Savard executing his famed “spinarama” move. If you’re not familiar with that move, don’t worry (and I will show it to you sometime later); the point is that video showed a fairly high level move, done by a very high level player. As I watched that tape a number of times, though, I realized that Savard’s move was really a combination of a few very simple moves, and moves that some of my intermediate level students were already working on. So, upon returning to my clinic, we spent a few sessions perfecting those basic movements, and then I started showing the kids how to combine them into a spinarama. Yes, within a few weeks, some of my 9- and 10-year olds were making that move as nicely as the great Savard.
Now, I wouldn’t blame parents of very young players for seeing the likes of an Alexander Ovechkin, and wishing they could help their youngsters gain such great skills. What I’m here to promise you, though, is that — barring insurmountable physical or learning limitations, it’s absolutely possible for a young one to be gradually brought to elite level abilities.
Of course, the key word in that last sentence is “gradually”. For, as you’ll learn elsewhere at CoachChic.com, rushing through — or skipping — progressions can result in a player being extremely frustrated, or downright discouraged.
So, going back to that little story about Savard again… My suggestion is to look at any desirable skill, and attempt to break it down into little parts. “Do-able” is a favorite term of mine when it comes to those part-skills. I mean, while we’re trying to gradually help a young player grow, we also want him or her to gain a great deal of confidence. Hey, let’s face it: a confident player loves practicing, so the combination of skill growth and added confidence tends to snowball in a really positive direction.
If you’re getting the feeling I’m preaching patience here, I surely am. In fact, when it comes to helping young players to become highly skilled and smart, I’ve learned that, “Slow and steady definitely does win the race!”
In re-capping the best advice I could ever share with you… Know that it IS possible to bring an experienced player to advanced or elite status; the secret is to do it in small, do-able steps — or parts. Over time, those parts can be gradually put together into more complex skills. All the while, confidence-building patience is the key.
Finally, know that you’re not going to be alone here. Naw, let’s take the trip together…