NXT Level Hockey training making a major impact in SoCal
These days, hockey training tends to run 365 days a year – and NXT Level Hockey is part of that trend.
Run out of THE RINKS-Yorba Linda by former junior, college and pro players Mike Bickley and Brady Horn, NXT Level Hockey is now in its eighth year of operation.
NXT Level Hockey started in 2010 when Bickley retired from playing professional hockey. He’s been instructing power skating and skill development in the Pacific Region for over 10 years with kids from as young as five on up to junior, college and professional players.
Horn had been playing hockey since he was eight years old but didn’t get into ice hockey until he was 12, so he was a bit of a late bloomer. He said he spent a lot of time on the ice training by himself growing up.
“I was looking to give back to the game that has given me so much,” said Bickley. “I originally started off doing power skating and individual skill training at THE RINKS-Yorba Linda and THE RINKS-Lakewood ICE.”
“Mike approached me to coach in 2014 when I had got done playing and just moved back home, but I just wasn’t ready to jump right back in quite yet,” added Horn. “I think I needed some time away from the game to figure out what I wanted to do. I also wanted to make sure I did it for the right reasons. Mike asked me a few more times and I decided to help coach some teams and assist him on some summer camps. Soon after, I started focusing on just helping kids with shooting.”
Catering to “every kid, every age” with the desire to learn the game and improve their individual skills, NXT Level Hockey has year-round shooting programs, power skating programs and camps/mini-camps throughout the summer that are geared towards shooting and skating.
“We own our own shooting facility and it features a state-of-the-art hockey training system called Rapidshot and two synthetic ice shooting lanes,” Horn said. “We are the only facility in the entire state of California that has a RapidShot. Our program is lucky enough to have a shooting facility, an NHL-sized sheet of ice and a strength and conditioning facility (Mettle Strength) under one roof. “
Bickley utilizes the ice to run the power skating program and is highly regarded by many in Southern California.
Both Horn and Bickley grew up in Southern California and had the opportunity to play all over North America.
“Some of the programs we played for had some amazing facilities,” said Horn. “We saw a great opportunity to provide that same experience a bit closer to home. Mike and I both played the game at a high level and we know what it takes for youth hockey players to play at the next level whether it be juniors, college or professional.”
Horn noted that he and Bickley are on the same page when it comes to the philosophy of hockey instruction.
“The two main points that Mike and I always seem to hammer home to the kids we are teaching or coaching is to always work hard and have fun,” Horn said. “One doesn’t work without the other, but obviously with hockey instruction, building a strong understanding of what we are teaching and why we are teaching skill development is important in order to improve their individual skill set and to contribute to their teams’ success.
“We also believe that along with having fun and working hard, every hockey player needs to have a consistent work ethic in order to be successful on and off the ice. We try and integrate life lessons and develop characteristics into our students that will help them later in life. Some of the best results come from connecting with our students on a personal, mental and hockey level.”
— Matt Mackinder
(March 1, 2018)