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CSYHA offers two session of Learn to Play.  Session 1 runs Mid-October though Late December and session 2 runs early January through early March. 

Registration for both sessions of Learn to Play typically opens around Labor Day and is performed online.   Discounts are given for those of register for both sessions, if you register for only one to try it and want to continue the discount can still be applied.  

LTP sessions are usually Forty-five minutes in duration both Saturday mornings (typically 9:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m.) and Monday nights (6:15 p.m.).   No prior skating or hockey experience is necessary. Teaching kids how to skate is what we do!   
Our focus is providing a fun, safe, and exciting experience for all kids to learn how to skate and to begin learning the basic skills of ice hockey.   We will play some “hockey” the last ice time of Session 1 and the last few Saturday ice slots of Session 2. These games are NOT our focus. Our focus is F- U-N! We may add in a little skill development along the way.   

What You Need for LTP Sessions

Most kids who attend LTP sessions do wear full hockey gear.  This includes:

  • Hockey Helmet (Required)
  • Hockey Skates (Required)
  • Shin Pads 
  • Elbow Pads
  • Hockey Pants
  • Shoulder Pads
  • Hockey Gloves
  • Stick

Most of the LTP session are focused on skating skills and building balance and leg/foot strength.  Removing the stick from the equation forces them to rely on their own balance.  Instructors vary drill and kids progress and over the course of the sessions you will find that kids move from group to group based on skill advancing groups as they work.


 Kids who work hard, push themselves outside of their comfort zone and have fun find progress faster and have a good chance of finding themselves on regular season teams quicker.


Good luck on the ice!

LTP Instructors

As your kids attend LTP you will see a varying group of instructors.  All are volunteers and experienced at different levels of Hockey.  Normally our Director of Youth Hockey is the key leader and he leverages both board members as well as various coaches and Asst. coaches from the CSYHA teams as may be available that day to help out.    


Additionally you will normally see a group of kids age 13-18 on the ice that are CSYHA players that also play High School Hockey for Cazenovia High School.  They are at the rink between HS practices waiting for CSYHA Bantam or Midget practices and they volunteer in their free time if they do not have too much homework to work with the LTP kids.  


Additionally, you will see some young adults out on the ice that are either SUNY Morrisvlle Ice Hockey Players and sometimes you will catch or coach or asst coach from the team.  

LTP is a community event and there is always a need for help on the ice.  Do not hesitate to thank the many volunteers that help the LTP program and should you want to help out on the ice you are more than welcome, just let the LTP coordinator know and we will get you started with the requirements for being on the ice.

Hometown Hero's - Chuck Gridley

By Webmaster 06/12/2019, 10:00pm EDT

CNY Area Hockey Members Recognized

At the most recent NYSAHA meeting held the first weekend in June 2019 in Syracuse a local USAH member was recognized for their contribution to Hockey in the area.  Most of the coaches in the area who has attended clinics at Skaneateles, played at their rink, or been involved with the local Sled Hockey program will recognize the name Chuck Gridley.  Chuck was the winner of the Peter Rush Award this year.

From the NYSAHA page, The Peter Rush award is presented annually  since 1989 to a person who has displayed a selfless long-term dedication and commitment to the growth of youth hockey. The recipient must be from the Section in which the Annual Meeting of the membership is held. 

Peter Rush was originally involved with youth hockey in the Buffalo, New York area. In the early 1960s, he was an integral part of the expansion and growth of the Buffalo Shamrocks Athletic Club, an original member of the New York State Amateur Hockey Association. He was one of our early USA Hockey Directors from New York and was ultimately elected as a National Director. As time went on, Peter’s involvement with USA Hockey (then known as AHAUS) grew and he was recognized for his efforts by being selected as the first National Championship chairman overseeing all National tournaments. Peter, along with Bob Allen and several others, was instrumental in the initial growth of youth hockey throughout New York State. Peter passed away in the late 1980’s after a long illness. In 1989 the New York State Amateur Hockey Association established “The Peter Rush Award” in his honor and is dedicated to his long and strong commitment to youth hockey. This award is presented annually to a person who has displayed a selfless long-term dedication and commitment to the growth of youth hockey. The recipient must be from the Section in which the Annual Meeting of the membership is held. Past Award Winners are available on the NYSAHA website.

Although may people in CNY hockey may know Chuck as a member of the Skaneateles Hockey program, most coaches know him as a staple in the USA Hockey Coaching program as he serves as the NYS District Coach in Chief/Coaching Education Coordinator and many fewer may know but many admire admire him for his commitment to Sled Hockey as the coach of the CNY Flyers who play out of Allyn Arena in Skaneateles.  Please check the team out, it is truly an amazing game played closer to the ice surface and with more competitive tenacity that you can imagine!

Congratulations Chuck!  

Coaching Insights from Merrimack's Erin Hamlen

By By Steve Mann 06/12/2019, 9:15pm EDT

Republish from USA Hockey, By Steve Mann, 05/31/19, 10:00AM MDT

Relatively speaking, the women’s ice hockey program at Merrimack College is still in its infancy, having just completed its fourth season as a NCAA-affiliated school in Hockey East.

However, Erin Hamlen, the Warriors’ head coach, is definitely no newbie to the profession, having served behind the bench for various teams since the turn of the century. She was the head coach at the University of New England and for the Boston Blades, an assistant at her alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, for over a decade, and had several stints at the national level for USA Hockey.

Hamlen shared her thoughts on a variety of issues facing youth hockey coaches.

Q: What should youth coaches consider if they are trying to build a positive, successful culture? 

A: For coaches, from youth to the college level, the biggest thing is communication. Most athletes these days don’t know what they don’t know. They need information shown to them.

If an athlete doesn’t understand why they aren’t put into a starting role, on a certain line, on the ice in the last two minutes, there tends to be guessing about where they stand. Coaches have the ability to clarify for athletes, even young athletes, where they fit in a program. If you openly communicate with them throughout the process and give them the ability to learn and ask questions, it builds a trusting, positive relationship.

Q: Is there a “best practice” for coaches to communicate with athletes?

A: It’s tough because there are so many different personalities on a team and everyone receives communication in different ways. It’s good for coaches to address a group when talking about expectations for those in the program and those around it and keep that positive. But individual communication is a big piece. It’s important to allow athletes to express how they are feeling. They want to be heard. They may not be where the coach is at that moment so it’s a good opportunity to get on the same page.

Q: What are the keys to having a cohesive coaching staff?

A: As with the players, communication is key. It’s important to understand each other’s expectations. Whether there’s a head coach and two to three assistants or a staff of one or two, you all have to be on the same page whenever you walk out of a room.

For a head coach, it’s important to make sure that not only are the roles clear but that every coach has a visible role in the program. If the head coach has a dominating personality that may not allow the assistants an opportunity to speak, it will be hard for them to get respect from the players. Players need to hear different voices. Sometimes an assistant is better equipped to convey something to a player than a head coach.

Delegating responsibilities is also important – giving coaches clear roles builds trust within a staff. You should have ongoing discussions about pros and cons, how things are going, reassess processes and approaches. We’re always doing that within our program and think it’s something every coach should do – continuously looking to get better.

Q: You were a very successful goalie. What advice do you have for developing young goaltenders? 

A: In developing young goaltenders, look to really create athletes. Over-specialization is a big deal. Goalies can have extra training to hone their own craft. But it’s important to play different sports, be athletic and work on things that aren’t just physical like glove saves, but also things that help with anticipation of the play and how a goalie sees the game. If you work with goalies on this at a younger age it can lead to a more knowledgeable player. Young goalies sometimes find it hard to get out of the crease, so get them out of the net and have them skate with the rest of the team. This will help them be a more successful, talented and confident skater.

With younger goalies, it’s good to try to work on the vocal part of the game as well. Weave communication into practices, so they can practice communicating with defensemen, like on breakouts, in transition. Get them into scenarios where they need to talk to teammates. Be sure that early in the season you establish what the common language will be – phrases like “wheel” (taking the puck around the net), “D to D” and others – so they know how to communicate with teammates.

Q: What would you like to see youth hockey coaches focus on more to better serve and develop players?

A: Every program is a bit different. But generally I would say the skill piece has been lost over time in team practices. I know it’s challenging with the number of hours the coach has to work with their athletes, so it’s easier to go into systems and say ‘this is what we need to do when we play in two days.’ But, I’d love to see youth coaches build a plan around skill development. Take 15 minutes each practice and work on a skill piece, or a split session with forwards and defense separated working on a skill. This will translate into a better player and a better team, ultimately.

Passing is an area I’d emphasize – we work on this skill at the college level every day – it’s critical at all levels to continue to work on this during a season.

Q: Do you use small-area games at the college level? And how important are they for youth development?

A: Yes, we try to use small-area games every day in some way. Youth coaches could end practice this way or it could be an entire practice of small-area games. Athletes learn by figuring things out. Sometimes the best way to learn is when they have to create on their own. Small-area games help players understand spacing, how do I get myself open and in position, how do I use my voice, etc. And in small area games things happen quickly. There are more touches of the puck and more shooting opportunities as well.

Q: Is early specialization a problem in youth sports today? Would you recommend players try multiple sports and/or take a break from the rink?

A: Yes, it’s a problem. There are players that, when you get close to recruiting age, are asked to play in tournaments that may go all summer. It may be the only sport they end up playing. You don’t always end up with the same athlete you would if they had another sport to balance things out.

The college season is so long that even our athletes are excited to take a break or try something new. They play intramurals, softball, volleyball. It gets them in a different world for a while and a new perspective on things. And yes, kids need to take a break from all sports at some point and just be a kid for a while. That gets lost at times, with thinking they always have to move forward to make themselves “elite.” It can be a lot of hockey. There’s a time to step away and go swimming or go to the lake, so when you come back it’s fresh and you’re really interested in what you’re doing.

Coaching and Correcting the fundamentals of skating

By By Mike Doyle 04/10/2019, 8:45am EDT

Reprinted from USA

Ice skating is a specialized form of movement compared to other sports. Hockey players need to learn the biomechanics involved in producing speed and power on skates, which is different from other youth sports such as basketball, soccer or football, where youngsters can use the motor patterns they have been developing since they were 1.

 While players don’t need a doctorate in kinesiology to attain a great skating stride, they do need to learn a number of lessons through a progression before graduating to proper form.  

Carrie Keil has been a power skating instructor for more than 30 years. She has helped teach some of the best American-born ice skaters as the power skating coach for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP) since 1999.

 Knee bend and hip flexion   

Just like a toddler learning to walk, skaters need to begin with the basics. Keil said there are two keys to a good stride.

“The most important things are going to be your knee and hip flexion, which is a fancy word for knee bend and being able to flex at the hips because you have to be able to get down low so that when you take a skating stride, you get a long stride and full extension,” Keil said.

The first homework for beginning skaters – whether it’s an adult or a 5-year-old – is learning to get comfortable in bending their knees.

“That also serves the dual purpose of lowering the center of gravity closer to the surface of the ice,” Keil said. “So, your balance is improved when you bend your knees and bend your hips.”


The first thing Keil looks for in a good stride is a player’s posture. The thing often happens with young players when Keil tells them to bend their knees: they bend over with their back.

“If you tell a 5- or 6-year-old to bend their knees, 90 percent of the time they drop their head and bend forward,” Keil said. “Posture is number one. If your posture is incorrect, it lends itself to other incorrect motor patterns. Players who tend to lean forward too much tend to have that wide, railroad short choppy stride.”

It’s difficult for players get any stride recovery and return their legs back to the midline of their body if they overbend at the back and have a choppy stride. When you’re bent forward, your arms tend to swing side to side a little more or more in a circular motion versus a runner’s sprint.

“It also has a lot to do with balance and power generation,” Keil said. “When most of your weight is centered over your hips, knees and skates, then you go to take a stride, you’re going to get 100 percent of your power potential with your weight and leg strength. If you’re leaning forward, you’ve taken some of what you weigh off of your hips and skates, so you’re already compromising how much speed you can generate.”

Practice planning: Keep kids engaged  

Unfortunately, even as important as skating is to a hockey player, repetition can get old fairly quickly. The most important thing, especially at the younger ages, is that drills or form a coach is teaching needs to be fun. Kids need to stay engaged.

“You need to find ways to work on the knee bend and hip flexion that they think is fun. One of the things I like to do and the players seem to enjoy it is start on the goal line, get up some speed and at the blue line see if they can go all the way down into a full squat with their rear ends just a couple of inches away from the ice – so really getting down low,” Keil said.

She said that this drill gets players much lower than they would actually need when skating, but coaches need some overkill when introducing the idea of knee bend.

“If you only get them bending a little bit, they’re going to bend even less when they are skating,” Keil said. “If you can get them to bend maximally, then they’ll bend adequately when they’re actually skating.”

Additionally, bending into a full squat is something players can do for dryland that can be part of their pre-practice warmup. Getting players engaged in a friendly competition is also a way Keil keeps the curriculum fresh for young students.

“Getting them to squat down and have a friendly competition to see who can hold it the longest,” she said. “Have them counting because kids love to count. That keeps kids engaged and then they think it’s fun.”

Progressing to tougher drills

After players can get into a full squat, they can move onto more complicated coursework. A good drill is the Russian Knee Drill: tap one knee down on the ice and then alternate back and forth between knees. The players should stay low and alternate the knees touching the ice by scissoring and without standing all the way up. It can be done both forward and backward.

“It’s a progression because you’re activating the core to balance, especially when you switch your legs,” Keil said. “Most players will drop their heads and chest, but with the Russian Knee Drill, you’re engaging the core, which has implications on balance, be it making a check, receiving a check. When they’re older they need to be able to engage their core. If it’s something they’ve been doing since they are 5 or 6 it becomes an innate concept and something they already can do.”

There are a lot of progressions – going all the way up to the Shoot the Duck Drill where you try to get all the way down on one leg with the other leg sticking straight out in front of you. Additionally, jumping drills, over sticks or black barriers found at many rinks in the U.S.

“When you jump, the only way to jump is to bend your knees and then use your explosive motor patterns to spring up off the ice and then you also need to land in a deep knee position to maintain your balance,” Keil said “If you land on straight legs, you’re going to bend at the waist and fall.”

Correcting bad habits through visualization

It’s nearly impossible to teach skating through verbal instruction and pretty much impossible to break bad habits through lecture. Skating is all about visual learning.

For years, Keil has taught mechanics on a skating treadmill in front of a full-length mirror.

“It has been nothing short of remarkable what can be accomplished when players can see themselves. We’re visual learners and I’m finding I can correct a player in one to three months on the treadmill, what used to take me a year or two on the ice,” Keil said.

There’s some negativity out there about skating treadmills because some players’ experience has been with someone who doesn’t teach form and technique and, “just use it as a conditioning tool where they crank up the speed and elevation,” she said.

“You see it in the mirror, you get results very quickly,” Keil continued. “There are ways to fix their posture. There are visual clues that they can see that one leg isn’t recovering or one leg isn’t striding fully out.”

And if you don’t have access to a skating treadmill, Keil suggests using the available technology in our pockets to correct skating habits.

“If you’re going to work with a couple kids at a time, I’d suggest videoing them and being able to show them what it is you’re trying to get them to change,” Keil said. “Auditory commands for kids are just another adult going, ‘Blah, blah, blah.’”

My son and his hockey teammates celebrate a goal.