Over the past two weeks, the top 14-year-old boys and girls in Minnesota have spent a week in St. Cloud at one of Minnesota Hockey’s CCM High Performance Development Camps. The HP 14 Development Camps serve as the final component of the HP process for that age group and are designed to prepare the players for future events and opportunities.
“At this age group, our main focus is on skill development,” said HP 14 Development Director, Bill McClellan. “I like to have an acronym, F-U-N, and it’s two meanings: fun and fundamentals. I think they go hand in hand.”
For McClellan, that acronym is at the forefront of every experience they plan to provide the players at camp. From station-based practices that maximize repetitions, to social activities and team building that build relationships and camaraderie, the coaches and counselors spend the entire week focused on instilling key teaching points and ensuring the players have a great experience.
And when he says fundamentals, he’s not just referring to on-ice skills.
“This age group is kind of the start of the learn to train [phase] so it’s real important, not only they learn the correct details and habits on the ice, but they’re also being taught nutrition and how to train to become a better athlete,” emphasized McClellan, who also serves as the District 8 Coach-in-Chief.
Regional ADM Manager for USA Hockey, Guy Gosselin, assisted McClellan with the boys’ camp and echoed the same message on the importance of teaching the young players how to approach training on a daily basis.
“We’re teaching these kids functional training, teaching them certain routines,” said Gosselin. “We’re teaching these kids how to take care of their bodies: staying hydrated, getting rest, what is your focus for the day. Hopefully, all of this stuff, they’re going to take a little bit of it and make themselves better hockey players and better people.”
While the players are often excited to push themselves on the ice, developing new training and personal development habits can be more challenging.
That’s where the camp counselors, all of which are current college hockey players, can make a big impression on the young players.
“We tell the players, ‘Look and see what the counselors are eating,’” said McClellan. “It’s unbelievable what they have compared to what the kids are eating. Our counselors, who are college athletes, they’ve got the colors and the vegetables and the fruits, and they’re drinking water.”
The same can be said for off-ice training. The players spend time each day at camp participating in off-ice activities, learning how to do dynamic warm ups, strength and speed training. Then, the counselors re-enforce the importance of those things by take an hour or two each day to work out themselves.
“These counselors are college stars and these kids look up to them,” said McClellan. “They’re great role models for our players.”
Plus, having the opportunity to spend a week with current college hockey players is kind of F-U-N as a 14-year-old.