EDMONTON- The way the game of hockey is played is ever-changing and so too is the way athletes are being trained.
Optimum Reaction (OR) Sports’ elite goaltender camp is taking place at NAIT arena this week. It focuses on giving players more individual attention than traditional goalie camps.
“It’s definitely easier to get a lot more reps in. You get more quality time than, I’d say, a traditional goalie camp where there’s 30 goalies out there with you,” said Edmonton Oil Kings hopeful Patrick Dea.
“They (the instructors) focus on maybe one or two things, specific things, rather than the whole spectrum.”
The camp is run by Tri-City Americans goalie coach Lyle Mast and Edmonton Oil Kings goalie coach Dustin Schwartz. The player to coach ratio is 4-1, and each group gets five on-ice sessions.
“The demand on the development side has really increased,” Mast explained, “so you have to kind of migrate to that. You have to create a development environment where the kids are getting the feedback at the time they’re performing.”
Another difference with this camp is the dryland training goalies go through. Goalies at the OR Sports camp learn what it’s like to train as an MFC fighter.
“I actually have a good friend of mine… who runs the Jiu-Jitsu program at Donnan School, and we just got talking about different ways of training. And I’ve gone through the process a few times myself and it’s quite the workout and it’s a full-body workout, which is something as a goaltender I think is important,” Schwartz explained.
He says the alternative training helps goalies increase power in their legs and develop core strength.
“I thought for sure I was in pretty pristine shape. But I mean, just seeing what a lot of the UFC guys train, and we did a bit of Jiu-Jitsu and learned a couple submissions, so it was cool. It was definitely tough, but it was a good experience. It helped a lot,’ Dea said.
Sixty-five goalies are taking part in the camp, which runs until Friday night. The increased individual attention means coaches work longer hours, but they say it’s worth every minute.
“It’s a lot of repetition and a lot of reminders and Lyle uses term ‘the one string bango’ because it’s the same tune over and over. But eventually the light does go off with those kids and they start to execute things a little differently. And bottom line, they’re learning,” Schwartz explained.
“Part of why we do what we do is the end game, you know. It’s to see athletes get to the next level, from whatever level they’re capable of achieving, it’s to be a part of developing that and putting them in a situation where they’re going to succeed as much as they possibly can,” Mast added.
With files from Dean Millard, Global Sports.