NEW GLASGOW – Jon Sim continues to make a shift away from playing the game to teaching it.
The 36-year-old played professionally until early 2013, but has since been back home in Pictou County teaching the game to a variety of teams and groups. After a trial session of a program last summer, yesterday Sim wrapped up his first full running of these hockey camps.
What this entailed was a four-week program for players in novice, atom and peewee. After testing the waters with a few training ideas last year he believes he learned what would be best for the kids and that it was well received by the 90 players who took part.
“Last summer I had a little dry run where I took some kids and I sampled what I thought would hopefully get to where I am and hopefully next summer we can make it even bigger,” he said. “I think for each group every kid got better and every kid had smiles on their faces. It was a lot of hard work, but overall I think they had fun and learned that hard work gets you better.”
Each age group had nearly 12 hours of ice over the four weeks, with some kids also signing up for two off-ice sessions a week. During those Sim said he had a yoga instructor in for a session, plus some fun activities such as ball hockey games.
On the ice he said it started with a lot of skating.
“We focused on a lot of battle stuff, putting yourself into awkward positions to hang onto pucks,” said Sim. “We did shooting, really a lot of different things over the four weeks. I had great instructors out with me and nobody was standing around for very long, if you were standing around at all. It was a lot of fun and the kids put in a lot of hard work.”
From the beginning of the month to yesterday Sim said one of the best parts was seeing the players’ progression. Every day the coaches discussed the sessions and one of the consistent topics was progression.
“The one thing we did say is that the kids are getting better, they’re getting better with the stickhandling stuff, better with their heads up and their skating from week one, the drills we did before practice to the end were like night and day.”
Still fresh to teaching the game, as opposed to playing it, Sim said there is a lot to learn about that aspect of the game.
“It’s a learning experience for the kids, but it’s also a learning experience for myself too,” he said. “In hockey you’re never at the top. You’re always finding ways to get better as yourself and now on this side of the wall I’m trying to learn different things. I’m enjoying it and it’s fun.”
With these camps completed his focus will shift to a bantam preparation camp next week. The camp, meant to get players conditioning ready for their tryouts, is nearly full according to Sim.
“I’m looking forward to working with the bantam kids because it’s going to be a little bit older and I can teach a little bit more of the stuff I’ve learned over my years with the older kids, like hitting and things like that,” he said. “The kids are going to work hard, get their conditioning up and get put in awkward positions to hang onto pucks and to battle.”
From there he will take a break from coaching until September when he will be running his Fall into Hockey programs for novice, atom and peewee players. It will be similar to the summer camps, but more focused on preparing players for tryouts and conditioning.
Information on those programs will be finalized in coming weeks.
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris