As part of the Quebec Hockey Summit, scheduled for August 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Dr. George Larivière will speak about his experiences with Quebec’s sport school program over more than 20 years.
Beginning with a university project in 1984, when he hooked a transceiver up to a hockey helmet and was able to talk to players during the course of the game, helping them better understand certain sitations, Dr. Larivière has worked to develop young players.
“Players didn’t want to wear the helmet,” Dr. Larivière says of his project 27 years ago. “They were like robots; they just did what their coach was telling them to do, instead of reacting to the game.”
Dr. Larivière created the sport school program with the objective to train players beginning at the age of 12, to put them in a university environment to help push them academically, as well as on the ice.
“Students came to the university three or four times a week,” he says of the start of the program. “They had a room to study and time on the ice. Not only did it help us develop players, but coaches as well.”
The creation of sport school programs was a tremendous in Quebec, and eventually led to improvements in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Coaches were better trained and supervised and more former players stayed involved in the game.
At the Quebec Hockey Summit, Dr. Larivière will speak to the issues that arise when players reach 16, an age when many leave the game and move on to other interests. He believes more options than ever are in place to keep players involved – from sport school programs to Midget AAA and the QMJHL.
“I like the programs we have now,” Dr. Larivière says. “We just need to promote them better.”
Those involved with hockey, he says, need to better develop their players, give them the skills that could keep them on the ice longer. New technologies, ones he will touch on during the summit, can help players maximize their potential.
As a new generation of players begin their hockey careers, changes to development programs are necessary to keep up with the changes in players. According to Dr. Larivière, it will take adaption, refinement and improvement to keep Canada’s game strong.