TD Garden Igor and Alex Ovechkin discuss how to develop young players into elite performers.
The program is based on a unique, time-proven methodology developed exclusively for Red Battalion hockey academy by our founders Igor Gratchev
Q & A with Igor Gratchev
1. Igor, could you describe the objectives of your Ten Steps hockey development program?
My techniques are designed to accelerate the full development of a player, and to help him orher reach their own peak level of performance. These techniques are directly responsible for bringing several youth and amateur hockey players from the novice level to the internationaland professional arenas.
2. What is the Ten Steps program?
It’s a combination of 10 different components that a player must dedicate him or herself to and master in order to compete at a high level of hockey: character, skating skills, emotional control, physical training, goal setting, mental toughness, work ethic, shooting/stick handling, team tactics and nutrition (see Ten Steps Pyramid chart). There is no “magic pill” here. It’s a complete approach, and it takes commitment and hard work. But it’s absolutely the most proven, successful way for your son or daughter to accelerate to their peak performance level.
3. How did you develop the program?
I developed my Ten Steps program during the past 25 years through hard work and extensive trial and error. Every single aspect of the program is proven and time tested. I have used these exact methods with countless students, many of whom have reached their goals in hockey, whether that’s to play at the high school, college, international or professional level. The program is a combination of the most effective Russian and North American hockey training techniques I’ve learned and adopted in my career as a player, coach and teacher.
4. What can a new player expect when he or she steps on the ice for the first time?
The player can expect to be pushed through a series of training skills that are fast-paced and challenging. I communicate visually, verbally and through on-ice demonstration. I want to develop a vivid imagination in the player, without depriving him of the right to improvisation. I encourage the young hockey player to take risks, avoid the template or the stencil of actions. I expect students to listen, work hard and try new techniques that they probably haven’t seen anywhere else. There is not one student in the world that my program wont work for. But the student must come to the rink, be willing to learn and keep working hard to master what I am teaching.
5. What would you say is the most important thing for parents to understand about player development?
Hockey is a late specialization sport. And what that means is that an athlete shows the maximum of his capabilities after the full maturation of the body. That doesn’t typically happen until a player has gone through puberty, which can vary quite a bit for each player. Therefore, the entire training process should be subordinated to this fact, without trying to force the player’s development at a young age. Many parents are overly concerned about winning and seeing results in a 10- or 12-year-old player. But in reality, what’s more important? To win and score the most goals at age 12 or to systematically and progressively move to the heights of development when the child’s body has fully matured?
6. What are the characteristics of the hockey players who achieve their goals in the sport?
A player needs to be committed to training techniques my program provides. Mastery grows only through the huge amount of work done in training. Beyond that, the players that tend to develop the most typically have a fighting spirit within themselves. They don’t give up and fight until the very last second of a battle, a shift, a period or the game. They are reliable, and know the team depends on them. They love to play, and they have an instinct and strong desire to win. They do not accept defeat. And they never lose that desire to compete.
7. What do you find rewarding about training hockey players?
The techniques I am teaching can vary from simple to more advanced skating and stickhandling techniques. Quite often a player has never seen or tried something I am teaching on the ice. The proper execution can require a certain commitment and effort from the player, and a willingness to practice it over and over. These players have to deal with a level of adversity, over and over. Then I see them perform the technique correctly, have success, and gain confidence and motivation. At Red Battalion Hockey, we celebrate that
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