Thoughts on Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence World Junior Summer Development Camp

As I mentioned in my Summer Schedule Update, I was one of the goaltending coaches invited to work with the best prospects at Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence World Junior summer development camp in Calgary, Alberta from June 6 – 10.

This was my second summer attending the evaluation camp. This camp in particular afforded me the opportunity to learn from and meet with people who offer a unique perspective off the ice, which not surprisingly, directly leads to success in all areas of life.

The Inside Edge and Ignite the Third Factor

During the week, I had the opportunity to observe the work of Dr. Peter Jensen. All I can say is that I’m extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from and spend time with such a quality individual. Dr. Jensen is the founder of one of Canada’s premiere training companies, Performance Coaching Inc. He has worked with major companies all over the world and has attended seven Olympic Games, working with over 40 medal winning athletes and their coaches. He is also an instructor at Canada’s foremost executive development school, the Queen’s School of Business.

During his time with the players, Dr. Jensen focused his energy on the importance of breathing and understanding of what oxygen does to the body and the mind. Players learned concepts and methods which would help them relax their body during times of stress. I do not want to lose his message in my own summary of the session. Instead, I encourage everyone to visit Dr. Jensen’s website. There, you will find many useful tools and articles. Even better, buy the books called The Inside Edge and Ignite the Third Factor. Dr. Jensen’s teachings and books are not just for athletes – they are for everyone. Both books are highly recommended and will surely help you find success in any endeavour. I am still amazed about how much I learned from Dr. Jensen in such a short time.

The Window of Opportunity

The most valuable lesson I learned while working with these goaltenders is a lesson far beyond the drills. Athletes have a very small window of opportunity and these goaltenders are no different. I know what you’re thinking, “thanks, Captain Obvious.”

Let me explain.

There is a certain dynamic that goes into making a selection for any team. Scouts, coaches and general managers look for a combination of personality and skill. What most don’t realize is that on the international stage when making team selections, the talent pool is so large that usually this combination is easy to find. Think about this: there were 10 goalies at camp competing for two jobs. They had one week to leave a good enough impression on head goaltending coach, Ron Tugnutt, and the rest of the Team Canada coaching staff.

Well, somewhere in Canada I can guarantee you that right now there is another player who is doing a little more off ice training, a little more work with his goalie coach and spending a little more time working on his game. Who knows, by mid-December that same goalie will also have played over 25 games and his learning curve in development launches him into main camp and compete for a spot on the team.

My point is: don’t ever feel contempt with yourself. There is always someone doing more than you and there will always be a new challenge put in front of you to test your resolve.

I met someone who is a perfect example of what I’m talking about: Charline Labonté.

Charline Labonté

I had the pleasure and honour of spending time with Charline Labonté in Calgary. As you may know, Labonté has been a member of Team Canada’s National Woman’s team since 2000, earning two Olympic gold medals – 2006 in Turin and 2010 in Vancouver. Professionally, she has played in the National Women’s Hockey League for the Montreal Axion and Laval Le Mistral. She even appeared in 28 games with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League between 1999 and 2000.

Consider her window of opportunity: every year, Labonté competes for one of three positions on Team Canada. Every four years, she competes for a spot on the women’s Olympic team. Her window is even smaller than the players competing for a spot on Team Canada’s World Junior team because, unlike the men, Labonté’s opportunity to continue showcasing her talents is reduced because of the options made available to her to continue playing.

So, how does she do it? What is the ‘X-Factor’?

Mental training.

I was amazed by her focus and work ethic, but I am even more amazed by how dedicated she is to her mental training.

There are not enough athletes doing this. Ask yourself how much time you spend training on and off the ice, and then think about how much time you spend training your mind.

In closing, I would like you leave you with some things to consider as you work trough summer training and prepare for training camp:

Do you truly understand what it means to be a team player?
Can your personality easily match the overall team dynamic?
Do you put the team first and leave your ego at the door?
Are you doing enough to be at the top of your game?
Can your work ethic get even better?

All these things come into play and it’s up to you not to leave anything up to chance.

A very heartfelt thank you goes out to Hockey Canada, Dr. Jensen and Charline for allowing me the opportunity to learn so much during my time in Calgary. It truly was an experience of a lifetime!

-Michael Lawrence.

About PRO Goaltending

Owner and head instructor, Michael Lawrence, has been training North American and European goaltenders since 2001. Clients include several junior, major junior, collegiate and professional goaltenders.
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