As players at the 2009 World Under-18 Championship were battling for on-ice supremacy at the Urban Plains Center in Fargo, N.D., some of the best and brightest hockey minds were meeting across town at the Southwest Arena to share ideas on how to create the next generation of elite hockey player.
Many top-level coaches from the United States and around the world will speak at the USA Hockey Level V Coaches Symposium in St. Paul, Minn., from Aug. 12-15.
For more information, click on the Coaching button at USAHockey.com
The IIHF International Coaches Symposium, a long-standing staple at international events, provides coaches from some of the top hockey countries with a forum to compare and contrast their player development models with what other countries are doing.
The daylong seminar, which was hosted by USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program and the North Dakota Amateur Hockey Association, was equal parts X’s and O’s and philosophical discussions that spilled off the ice and into the classroom.
The spotlight of this symposium featured spirited conversations on various topics such as the most effective ways to conduct a learn-to play program as well as promoting cross-ice hockey and small area games to teach skill development.
Two on-ice sessions were split between the learn-to-play segment, designated to aid in the development of younger players, and a skills challenge that was geared more towards older players.
After the on-ice portion, attendees sat through a series of off-ice presentations on player development. Rikard Gromborg, who works in hockey development for Sweden’s national teams, discussed a new program in Sweden that will structure their hockey associations in a hands-on way.
“It’s like a traveling road show. They take it to the people, and because Sweden is so small, they can do that,” says Mark Tabrum, USA Hockey’s director of Coaching Education.
“They physically go to the clubs and impress upon them what they want them to do. It’s more of a national program where our local associations have the ability to do what they want to do.”
Petr Misek, the director of Player Development for the Czech Republic, talked about cross-ice and small area games at the youth levels, while Markus Graf from Switzerland and Tim Taylor of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program spoke about their respective player development models.
“Each nation has unique and wonderful ideas to offer the world,” says Lou Vairo, USA Hockey’s director of Special Projects and former Olympic coach who has attended numerous symposiums over his career. “By sharing, everyone gets better and it elevates the game.”