Aspiring Elite Athletes Need a Game Plan

Teen athletes looking to excel in hockey and attain the next level require a healthy balance of skill, dedication, commitment, motivation and inspiration.

That’s where a game plan is needed.

Darryl Giancola, who has a Masters Degree in Education and exstensive coaching experience along with a new title of head scout for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL), realized the need for this and created Game Plan: Teen Coaching.

Game Plan offers teenagers, especially female players, individually designed yearly plans through which they work one-on-one with an experienced educator who helps them create appropriate stage goals and then properly prepares them to achieve those goals.

When his son was born, Giancola decided to leave coaching behind after a decade with the Toronto Junior Aeros. Right away he had other teams asking him to coach them, or help them out. After constantly turning them down, a few asked him to mentor them and they were willing to pay.

As he was putting the season long plans together that revolved around goal setting for the teams he was also doing motivational guest speaking. Parents started asking him to do the same thing personally, for their teen daughters.

Business started growing and Giancola realized he needed help. He started asking his teacher friends if they’d be interested in Game Plan: Teen Coaching and sure enough he found a list of teachers who wanted to coach as well.

Now Game Plan: Teen Coaching has at least 30 kids a season they work with as personal coaches.

“Parents hire us because they know nothing about the sport and want our help or they know a lot about the sport but their kids are tuning them out,” says Giancola. “As a coach I can motivate the kids in ways their parents can’t.”

The program mainly works with high school aged athletes who are high development level players. Since the program is an investment for parents, the athletes must have a certain commitment level. Game Plan is self-motivation for people who are already interested in achieving goals.

Once athletes reach the university level they will have developed enough skills to do it on their own. Currently there are four graduates from the Game Plan program that are university level players.

Giancola admits one of the reasons he’s had such success with this program among female athletes is because women’s hockey is still so young and growing.

“I’m looked at as a veteran expert in this game,” he says. “Whereas in men’s hockey I wouldn’t be considered a veteran.”

As a female hockey player myself who was drafted to the Burlington Barracudas of the CWHL this summer, but didn’t make the final cut, I wish there had been programs such as this one available while I was growing up.

At a time when women’s hockey was just starting to boom, when there were a lot of coaches who barely knew the game themselves, my personal play would have drastically improved with the one-on-one mentorship and coaching Giancola’s program provides the new generation of female hockey players.

I never even knew about the Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) at the intermediate AA level or I would not have chosen to stay at the intermediate A level where I couldn’t get scouted for Team Ontario or the Under 18 or 22 national team.

One of the worst decisions I made that has had a major impact on my hockey career was going to college instead of university and missing out on the opportunity to play NCAA or CIS hockey.

“The CWHL is the final destination point and I don’t think people fully appreciate how good these players are. Players think they can come out of high school and crack the CWHL, but that’s not going to happen. An 18-year-old kid can’t walk in and play against 26-year-olds. If you’re a high school kid, your goal should be to play somewhere else like at school. Play hockey, and still get that education. By grade 11 you should have schools picked out, should be playing in PWHL trying to get scouted.” – Darryl Giancola

Luckily, with Game Plan, female hockey players will not only know about all the options available to them in order to achieve their goals, they will also be given all the tools necessary to succeed.

Going forward, Giancola has high visions for the Game Plan program. He wants to evolve the program into a sport specific training and academic tutoring One-stop-shop for elite athletes. This would give all students access to a personal academic teacher, a psychiatrist or sports psychologist, a personal coach, and a fitness coach.

If you are a teen hockey player , or the parent of one I highly recommend visiting the Game Plan: Teen Coaching website for more information and contacting Darryl Giancola to set up a free presentation about the program.

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