The Overspeed Hockey Training camp wrapped up this week (Aug. 23) at New Hope Ice Arena, another surefire sign that summer is fading fast and fall camp waits just weeks away.
The development speed camp which focuses on skating with minimal contact with pucks and zero shooting, has been run by Armstrong Cooper boys hockey coach Danny Charleston for 20 years and continues to remain a popular draw for players in the area who wish to hone their stride.
“We look forward to Overspeed because we have seen the results of what motivated players can achieve through our skating camp and that excites me,” Charleston said.
Charleston and his staff stress chance-taking while pushing the limits of a skater’s comfort level. It’s okay to fall, it’s even a bit desired, his staff preaches, as they work their way through five weeks of deep practice and building proper mechanics brick by brick.
Reiterated and received was the message that quality repetitions and the speed at which they are done are an essential part of the development process. Do this next one at 70 percent, Charleston would tell the group as he introduced something new, before cranking up the intensity with each of the following roll through the line.
High school and college-aged players line up ahead of younger players down to incoming Squirts and U10s all in one big group, and the intensity becomes contagious as Wings big and small rip through their turn to test drive their quickly emerging skills.
This kind of inclusion pays off in a number of ways as younger and more inexperienced players learn from the older players.
“When you can visually see how proper skating mechanics work through older or more advanced skaters, it creates a visual understanding and motivation for the younger players,” Charleston said. “It also shows them the promise that hard work can help them reach their skating goals. That is why we have had junior and college players continue to participate year after year.”
The end result for those who put in the effort is a bump in speed, agility, and confidence in their edgework that might not have been there before. Being bold and aggressive in how the skaters approach a drill they’ve done repeatedly is encouraged, and part of the development plan.
For those who show up regularly and put in the work, the results can be a game changer for a player’s development.
“Simply put, if you put in the effort you are going to get something out of it,” Charleston said. “It doesn't matter what level you are, you can always improve on your skating.”
Pacing becomes important as well, with breaks built into the program. Charleston wears and monitors a stopwatch around his neck, and he’s done this long enough to know where the edge of proximal development lays.
“Recovery time is a must to allow for every sprint to be done at top speed,” Charleston said. “If rest intervals are not monitored fatigue will set in and the development of speed will be compromised and counterproductive. Long drills done at half speed will develop slowness and bad technique.”
Charleston, whose hockey background includes four years playing in the USHL, an alternate captaincy while starring at Nebraska-Omaha, and spent five seasons as a pro between the AHL, ECHL and Finland, is entering his second decade as the hockey head of Armstrong Cooper.
“I know after 20-plus years of running Overspeed skating camps that it works,” Charleston said emphatically. “It’s not a one or two or three-day camp. We go through weeks and weeks of high-speed interval training that forces you outside your comfort zone. The game of hockey has never been as fast as it is today and will continue to get faster. Skating has to be one of the most important fundamentals of today’s game.”