Selecting a summer hockey school can be a difficult decision to make. There are numerous hockey schools in each community each offering unique features and experiences; but how do you select the appropriate camp to meet your players’ needs? There are numerous variables to consider when selecting a summer hockey school for your player.
An important variable to consider when selecting a summer hockey school is whether to select a residential hockey school or a daytime hockey school. Both options offer your player a spectrum of benefits, therefore it is up to the parent and player to determine which options works best for them. Residential hockey schools offer the player the experience of participating in a hockey program in a new environment, away from home, where the player is exposed to new friends, experiences, and opportunities. A daytime hockey school offers the same experiences, but allows the player to continue to fulfill their responsibilities and commitments at home. If your player enjoys traveling, or wishes to attend college/university away from home, residential hockey schools may be an exciting opportunity for them to experience.
It is important when selecting a hockey school to select a school that places a strong emphasis on the development of the fundamental technical skills of the game. Skating, puck control, and shooting should make up the majority of on-ice sessions. It is the development of the fundamental technical skills that is going to help your child develop into the most successful player he/she can be. It is also important to consider hockey schools that offer a dry-land, off-ice, or class-room component to their program. Much can be learned and great improvements can be made away from the ice surface. These components help develop life skills which will help your player succeed not only in hockey, but in many other situations they may encounter.
Another important consideration when selecting a summer hockey school is the quality, and quantity of instructors. Ensure the instructors employed are certified through Hockey Canada’s National Coach Certification Program (NCCP), and have a strong background coaching hockey at the development level or high performance level. Do not be enticed by schools that advertise NHL “guest coaches”. “Guest coaches” are not involved in the daily on ice activities, and may not be scheduled to appear while your player is attending the school. Also, ensure that there is a good player to instructor ratio on and off the ice. A strong on-ice instructor to player ratio is one instructor to every 6-8 players. This will maximize the time and opportunity your player has to learn from the qualified and knowledgeable instructors.
While Hockey Canada does have a number of comprehensive insurance programs that protect every player, coach, assistant coach, manager, Hockey Canada Safety Program personnel, official and volunteer involved in Hockey Canada sanctioned hockey activities, that protection does not extend to summer hockey schools. Therefore, before selecting a school, be sure to find out what kind of Comprehensive General Liability (CGL) and Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance coverage the school has in the event of an injury.
Before registering for a summer hockey school, do your homework on the school you wish your player to attend. Communicate with players and parents of players who have attend the school in previous years. This is a great way to ensure the quality of the school. Also, contact the school directly and verify the information you have received from their brochure and other sources. Make sure to ask any additional questions you have regarding their program.
Finally, make sure that the summer hockey school experience is FUN for your player. Fun is the ultimate goal of hockey, and should be for the summer hockey school experience.
Please find below a checklist for selecting a summer hockey school
HOCKEY SCHOOL CHECKLIST FOR CHECKING OUT SCHOOLS
• Ads and promotional literature?
• Direct inquiries?
• Previous attendees?
• The head instructor?
• The staff of instructors?
• Staff screening process?
• Hours per day of on ice instruction?
• Skills, tactics and team play taught?
• Scrimmage time and games?
• Classroom instruction?
• Dryland training?
• Other instructional activities?
• Grouping players of similar skills and needs?
• On-ice pupil/instructor ratio?
• Amount of individual instruction?
• Report card?
• Meal menus?
• Sleeping accommodations?
• Off-ice supervision?
• Skate sharpening facilities? Pro shop?
• Medical and first aid facilities?
SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR GOALTENDERS
• How many goalies on the ice at one time?
• Special goaltending instructor?
• How much instruction time?
• The goaltenders' curriculum?
• What's the pupil/instructor ratio?
PREPARING TO ATTEND HOCKEY SCHOOL
• arrive in good physical condition
• check and pack all your equipment
• extra socks and underwear
• extra sticks
• other sports equipment and clothing
• health insurance ID
• know what skills you want to improve
• Come ready to have fun!