The United States Premier Hockey League is raising the bar for its junior hockey programs.
This year is the inaugural season of the tuition-free National Collegiate Development Conference.
I was hired as the Deputy Commissioner of the USPHL in September. One of my first responsibilities was to get together with our veteran coaches and use our years of experience to establish a “Player Development Model” for the NCDC.
We expect to provide each player with the best possible junior hockey experience. We expect our coaches to be mentors and role models, committed to developing players both on and off the ice.
They are expected to discipline and motivate players while emphasizing that their character and integrity are more important than their skill level. Coaches will check curfews and monitor class and job attendance.
They will communicate with players, explaining their role and how important it is to the team.
Coaches will promote and be advocates for their players and take a special interest in helping each player move on and achieve their goals.
Teams will play a 50-to 60-game schedule and have four on-ice practice sessions per week. We will have goalie-specific training on a weekly basis either before or after practice. Players can expect position-specific splits at least once per week during practice and extra skill development sessions available on a weekly basis.
Coaches will use video on a weekly basis to show players what they are doing well and areas where they can improve.
We expect the head coach will take an active role in using video to connect with his players and build a strong player/ coach relationship. Coaches will show video to the team as well as individual players.
Our strength and conditioning coaches will conduct at least two training sessions per week during the season. Players will lift as a team. Strength coaches will supervise stretching, warm-up and cool down.
They will also be responsible for nutrition and teaching players healthy eating habits and proper hydration. They will educate players on recovery and injury prevention. Fitness rooms will be available before and after practices and games. Teams will also have an off-ice shooting and puck-handling area.
Teams will have a sports psychologist talk to players about dealing with adversity, being a good teammate, developing a “Growth Mindset,” and playing with confidence.
They will also provide college advising to review transcripts and test scores as well as speak to players about high school and college courses. Players will be expected to attend special events during the season to emphasize the importance of giving back to the community and developing a selfless attitude.
Organizations will have a Billet Family Coordinator, who will interview and recruit prospective billet families in the area to make sure that we are providing players a “home away from home” to enhance their junior hockey experience.