Hockey Camp: Choosing the Right One

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youth hockey players with coach
M I K E M O R R I S

A hockey camp can keep your child’s skills sharp in the off season. 6 factors to consider.

By Tim Turk

If you don’t want your child’s hockey skills to get “rusty” over the summer, you might want to consider sending them to a hockey camp. Choosing one can be a difficult decision, as there are many factors to consider.

You want your child to get stellar training on various skill sets; however you also want them to have fun while doing so. Keep these 6 things in mind when looking for a hockey camp:

1. Staff

It’s important to know who is overseeing the camp. Although there are instructors who have a background playing hockey, that does not necessarily make them qualified to teach hockey. Look for a hockey camp whose staff is licensed, certified, and have undergone a criminal background check.

What is the coaching-to-player ratio? Some suggest that a ratio of 8:1 for off the ice and 6:1 for skill development sessions should be the minimum ratios.

2. Money’s Worth

Consider these questions:

  • Are you getting good value for the money you spend?
  • What type of facilities do they use? Is the equipment and ice well maintained?
  • How much time is dedicated to teaching children different hockey skills?
  • Is there an adequate amount of time spent on the ice and other activities? Is the curriculum well rounded?

3. Reputation of the Hockey Camp

How long has the hockey camp been in existence? Do you know any players who have attended the camp in the past, and what are their thoughts on it? Some hockey camps may have online reviews you can read.

A hockey camp that is affiliated with a league, national body, or brand can possibly make the camp more reputable. This is not to discredit new camps, however. If you are considering a newer camp, make sure your research is thorough.

4. Fun

Having fun is an important part of the experience. Material should be presented in an engaging manner; young hockey players will be able to absorb information that much easier if they are in a dynamic environment. You don’t want to choose a camp that is below a player’s skill level.

A camp that does not challenge the player will cause the player to become bored. Some kids may need more of a push to get involved in activities, and camp instructors must be respectful of players’ different needs. Younger players who are away from their parents value a memorable and enjoyable experience.

5. Safety

A hockey camp should prioritize children’s safety. Parents place their kids under the care of instructors, therefore it’s important to know the protocols and procedures used in their hockey camps. This is to avoid unnecessary harm. The staff must be thoroughly and effectively trained in all safety procedures.

6. Goals

Does the camp have a way of tracking the progress of your child? At the end of the week or term, players should have some form of evaluation. There are specialty camps that focus on honing particular skills, and there are also general camps. Parents should have a breakdown of the curriculum/schedule of the hockey camp.

You also don’t want to choose a camp that is above your child’s skill level. Having realistic expectations for younger children is important. For those kids, happiness and the willingness to go to camp is a good indicator of success.

Tim Turk is a frequent contributor to CrossIceHockey.com. He has been an NHL-level skills and shooting coach for over 18 years, and continues to work with NHL players while making time for minor league hockey teams and players. He runs several camps and clinics in the US and Canada, as well as in locations in other countries. This article originally appears on his website, www.timturkhockey.com.

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