As KMHA enters the midpoint of the season, it is easy to look at wins and losses to determine success. However, real success comes from progression. Watching our volunteers spend hours on the ice with all of rep, house league and local league teams you can see the progression first-hand.
As I watch teams skate in games or practices, it is easy to see the progression of skills that are being developed. The coaching staffs have worked extremely hard to develop the skill base and fundamentals of our programs and they’re doing a fantastic job.
Many may not understand or agree with small-area structure, stations or drills. They may not understand the importance of small-area or cross-ice games, however all of these have a large impact on players as they develop and grow — especially at the younger ages.
Small-area stations and games focus on repetition and skill development. The emphasis is on players touching the puck and enhancing all of their skills and hockey senses that are necessary as they grow and develop. It is the way the game has changed. Players develop through repetition and consistency.
KMHA coaches have bought into focusing on the fundamentals and skills of their teams in a greater sense over systems. While there is always a place for systems, it takes a backseat to fundamentals at the younger ages. In prior years, teams would get caught in their own zone and parents would scream from the stands, coaches would scream from the bench and players would get discouraged. Everyone asked, “What’s wrong with our defensive zone coverage? Why can’t we get out of our end?” In the simplest form, if players are unable to control the puck when they get possession, quite often under pressure in a small confined area, and can’t make one or two good passes they won’t get out of their end. It has nothing to do with systems, but rather the basic fundamentals of puck possession, puck control, passing and support.
When we watch the Kitchener teams now, we see the players with more confidence at the younger ages progressing in games because the coaches have taken the time to structure a good portion of their practices to small-area skill development. Many of our younger teams are stronger on their skates then their opponents due to our power skating program. Other associations are taking notice and starting to implement their own development and power skating programs. Similar to how the USA has closed the gap, or succeeded us (Canadians) in some opinions, other associations are implementing the same measures.
Kitchener must continue to push forward to enhance our programs and develop our younger players each year to stay ahead of the curve. Hockey is ultimately a number of one-on-one battles and if players haven’t developed the fundamentals they won’t be able to control the puck in these small-area battles and won’t have success. You’ll see us continue to push for skill development and repetition of these skills in small-areas situations to better develop KMHA’s players of the future.
KMHA had this in mind when we ran our first PD Day Skills Session on November 18 at Activa. Over 100 participants, divided into four age groups from Novice to Bantam, took part in a skills session during a day off school. The session had participants divided into small groups of 4 to 6 players and a goalie where stationary passing, movement passing, shooting and puck control skills were enhanced through repetition over a 90-minute ice session. While working in small groups, players had a puck on their stick 90 percent of the time and worked on their skating edges — definite improvement was noted with each player! There will be three more similar Skill Days taking place on January 4, 6 and 27. Be sure to watch the website to register.
The KMHA shooting gallery should now be available for use by all teams. The shooting gallery allows players to enhance their shooting technique and strength through repetition of shots at a distance of 10 to 20 feet from the net. Teams requested to contact the hockey office to book their time.
The only organization that provides something for everyone under one roof is KMHA. It is something that makes our organization truly unique and we should be extremely proud of the fact that we provide the opportunity for everyone, from all walks of life, to enjoy the great game of hockey. On any given day throughout the hockey season, you’ll see the many smiling faces of players coming through the IP program, Rookie Rangers to the Jr and Lady Rangers program, our girls’ Local League, boys’ House League, 4-on-4 and of course, the Ice Pirates. These are programs that we should embrace and be proud of. No other association offers what KMHA offers.
Submitted by Dean DeSilva, KMHA Director of Development