posted on November 01, 2023
KINGS PARK, N.Y. – Hockey Director of the Long Island Royals Steve Rizer believes that nothing is more important than player development, not even winning. "We're a development-first kind of team, where we consider winning a byproduct of good development," he explained. "Our coaches work on fundamental skills, and the byproduct of that will be successful wins on the ice."
Skating is a key aspect of the Royals’ player development strategy. With hockey becoming faster at the professional level, the Royals emphasize skating abilities such as edge work, power skating, and overall skating proficiency. Furthermore, the coaching staff emphasizes hockey IQ and awareness, ensuring that players can think and react on the fly during games.
To assess and track player progress, the coaching staff meets with players at various points throughout the season including tryouts, training camps and again at the end of the season. These meetings help ensure that players understand their roles and know what they need to work on for continuous improvement.
When asked about building a successful and competitive team within the AYHL, Mr. Rizer stressed the importance of long-term player development stating, “Rather than focusing on recruiting, the Royals aim to develop a core group of players from a young age and maintain them through the various age groups. This approach fosters healthy communication and continuity, allowing players to grow together as a team.”
As players transition from one age group to another, the coaching staff prepares them both mentally and physically. Mr. Rizer stated, “The game's pace and intensity increase with each age group, so the Royals incorporate small-area games and skill-focused practices to help players adapt to the changing demands.”
Apart from player development, Mr. Rizer also highlighted the significance of effective communication with players, parents, and league officials. He stressed the need for open dialogue, as an absence of information can lead to rumors and confusion. The coaching staff holds parent meetings throughout the season and communicates regularly via emails to keep everyone informed and avoid misinformation.