Goaltenders – like all hockey players – are constantly looking for an advantage. That includes putting in the time and work during the off-season. While it is very important for goalies to play other sports and take a break for at least part of the summer (4-6 weeks off is recommended), summer camps are a great way to put in work throughout the year. There are a lot of goaltending camps out there to choose from, but not all of them are suitable for everyone.
Here are some tips for parents and goalies of all ages and abilities to pick the right camp and maximize development.
Match your needs
The first step in looking for a goalie camp this summer should begin with a conversation with your son or daughter about what they would like to gain from your off-season investment.
The variety of goalie camps has grown tremendously over the last couple years to fit the many different needs a goalie may be seeking. Camps now range from a more laid-back style with multiple extracurricular outdoor activities like canoeing and fishing, to your more formal training camps with a boarding school-like intensity and feel.
Whatever you are looking for in a camp, you will likely find a good fit. However, make sure to do your research so the camp you choose matches your expectations of what you are looking to gain.
Perhaps the biggest number, next to your budget, that should impact your decision in which camp fits your needs best is the goalie-to-coach ratio.
Most camps prominently display what number they expect to hold for each hour of camp.
Depending on what other on-ice training a camp has, goalies participating in a 4:1 goalie-to-coach ratio is respectable, with a 3:1 ratio being ideal for most ages and skill levels. If you are looking for exceptional attention and maximum shots in the net, then 2:1 is the way to go.
Ask for references
From time to time, parents find that the image on the brochure and the explanation of the coaching they’d receive didn’t match the experience they actually had. To avoid this type of unfortunate situation, do your homework by asking for references.
Most camps will be happy to supply contacts that will give you insight into the camp from a parent perspective. Ask questions about who was on the ice with the kids. Did they stay true to their goalie to - coach ratio? Did they have quality supervision off the ice? This feedback can be very helpful once you have narrowed your choices down to a couple of camps.
Hours of ice/training
Like the other factors to consider above, this is really going to depend on your expectations going into the camp. Since summer camps can vary in duration from weekends to weeks, the number you want to look at is the amount of hours on-ice per day.
For most kids, four hours is the maximum they can handle and still actually gain something from the instruction. That number decreases as the intensity of the camp increases. In other words, if the day also includes dry-land workouts, plyometrics and outdoor activities, then you may be wasting your time and money on that fourth hour of ice that day.
Finally, understanding the appropriate level that will challenge and allow your child to experience success is another important factor to consider.
Elite, Advanced, Pro and other terms like this mean many different things to many people. Seek out exactly what the camp is looking for when they say Elite PeeWee Camp and if it matches your son or daughter’s skill level.
In addition, some camps or professional training companies have an internal progression where certain camps or levels are a prerequisite for another level. Take the initiative to call ahead or email and find out if your child matches well with the skill level the camp instructors are looking for.
In the end, if you take the time to do a little homework prior to making your decision, then you will likely find a camp that will be a wise investment of your resources and provide a great experience for your child.