A Special Team Skating Session with Graeme Townsend

We all like to do unique things for our players. Skating is one area where there are lots of products and people suggesting they can offer just such a thing. Well, we have a special guy for you and your team- Graeme Townsend.

I had the pleasure of coaching Graeme in the AHL. He was known as a team player and a heart and soul type; he was not known for his skating. Graeme has changed that.

He is the skating coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs and was in the same capacity with the San Jose Sharks. Graeme also played in the NHL with the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, and Ottawa Senators.

We had Graeme, and his chief instructor Adam Nicholas, take over a team practice a couple of weeks ago. They demonstrated unique skating techniques that Graeme has perfected and uses with his NHL players.

It was a great session. Graeme and Adam had the full attention of our Quebec major junior players as they were worked through drills teaching different game specific skating techniques.

The session had a valuable motivational component as well. Graeme explained how he personally grew as a player and how these techniques he was presenting have helped others.

Our players were left with practical drills to take away from the session that they have enthusiastically incorporated into our daily practice sessions.

We are definitely having Graeme and Adam back to work with our players. We highly endorse Graeme and encourage you to do something special for yourself, or your team, and have Graeme become a part of what you do.

Go to www.thestridedoctor.com and check out the different camps that Graeme has available. This might be just the thing for you or your team. Here is more contact information:

Graeme Townsend- [email protected] or call 978.360.4244

Joe Hearn- [email protected] or call 207.577.0622

Building Team Chemistry, Leadership and Culture With In-Season Team Building Activities

What team building activities do you do in-season with your players? Most of us have heard about teams going to exclusive resorts or being involved with some sort of expensive team building program or event. The cost alone will exclude most teams from participating in these types of events.

In the past I have used inexpensive ways to bring the team together and work on building the chemistry, leadership and culture of the team. Here are a few:

  • Habitat for Humanity work day
  • Museum visits
  • NASCAR  shop visits
  • Cookouts
  • Snowmobile parties
  • Sightseeing tours

I asked some of my coaching friends to tell us what they do.

Danny Brooks, assistant coach with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey league, had an extensive list of events that included rappelling 80 feet down the side of a building, working with ropes 60 feet up in trees, sport psychology sessions, and paintball. The team also uses ‘work ethic’ and ‘self esteem’ charts.

In our team building we jumped off the building, we climbed up the trees etc. Players want to know you are going to war with them. We are leaders who lead the charge not stand back and yell and give orders. If we ask our players to jump we jump first. Team building is critical in the success of the team both in short term events i.e. world juniors and in an 80 game season.

At the high school level coach Frank Hubley keeps it simple. His players already have full schedules with school and other activities.

With team building we use our off-ice sessions. We break the team into groups of 5-6 and work out in the weight room and run the stairs. We also have team meetings with the players.

At Ohio State assistant coach Jason Lammers talks about a neat team building exercise that the team just did.

We have really tried to focus on our team. Today we did a great one! We made a spider web and each of the guys had to fit through one of the holes in the web. It was great!

We are really trying to educate our leaders with articles, talks, and actions to show them how to be more effective.

Lots of coaches are using creative team building events to improve their teams and players. Most would agree that this can lead to greater individual and team success. It can be a lot of fun too!