Hi Hockey Fans,
I speak with so many parents on a weekly basis and one of the most common questions this time of year is “what should we be doing in the summer to get ready for the season?” Now, I have referenced this before in a previous blog that in order to become a better hockey player, you should strive to become a better all around athlete. This means walking away from hockey for a little bit and trying other sports that offer different physical demands on your body. However, I know that as a kid, I played hockey year round and never wanted a break from it. I did dabble in other sports, but I always yearned to play hockey no matter what the weather was like outside. Thus, here are some tips that I think can help your child have a great off season:
- Develop a monthly fitness program – one of the biggest things NHL players will do in the off season is hit the gym. They work on getting stronger, faster, more agile, and even more flexible. I think that with kids, you can develop a great program built just on body weight exercises, timing drills (kid’s love to race the clock), and throw in some stickhandling for good measure. I am a firm believer that improving your fitness levels will improve your game on the ice. Make a 4 week program with some variety and fun that you can do anywhere (even at the cottage) and track your child’s results. You can see them really develop athletically just from an hour a day. Once they finish the first month, create a new program based on what you learned from the first one. See if you can do this for June, July and August!
- Develop a monthly hockey program – ok, so you’re the one who just can’t live without hockey. I get it. I was the same. So, let’s create a program that we can do without having to be in our skates all the time (let’s substitute rollerblades instead). Let’s also focus on our puck skills in different ways. Let’s learn to shoot off each leg, or develop our snap/slap shot, or even work on our hand eye co-ordination by doing a bunch of puck tricks. Ultimately, you should try to improve in areas where you struggle and try doing different things than what you typically do on the ice. The 5,000 shot challenge is good if you’re just a beginner to shooting, but once you have the basic wrist shot down, let’s try to apply the same concept to a different movement. We don’t want our kids to develop overuse injuries so let’s mix in a variety of shots. I would also recommend getting some lighter pucks if they are going to learn slap shots as it has a lot less impact on their joints and they can get a better sense of their results.
- Play a sport similar to hockey – lacrosse is the first sport that comes to mind as many NHL players grew up playing lacrosse as well. However, you can also consider other 5 on 5 team sports such as basketball and indoor soccer as you can translate many of the tactics over to hockey. I think it’s great for learning concepts such as 2 on 1’s, 3 on 2’s and power play or penalty killing. Plus, you also get the bond from being on a team which makes team sports so enjoyable. Lastly, you might want to consider a different sport altogether, where the focus is more individual and teaches your child more about mental preparation and execution such as golf or baseball. This all depends on your child as to which way to lean, but I’m sure both types of sports (team or individual) can have a lasting effect on a young athlete.
- Try different forms of hockey – again, you just love hockey. I got it. So let’s consider playing it in different styles. Ball hockey is a great way to still play hockey while allowing you to focus more on your stickhandling and your aerobic endurance with all the running. Roller hockey offers a similar experience as ice hockey, but with a little bit of variety in the skating mechanics and the rules of the game. There is actually several outstanding prospects in the USA who started playing roller hockey before ice hockey. If you do play summer hockey, in my opinion you should try to play 5 on 5 on full ice or 3 on 3 on smaller ice. I actually personally love to play 3 on 3 on small ice as you touch the puck constantly and the game has a really high pace. Finally, don’t forget that you can play road hockey with friends on your street with the nice weather!
The off season doesn’t last long for hockey, so pick a couple things from the options above and enjoy your summer as much as possible. A lot of rep teams hit the ice in August, so you really only have a couple months to enjoy the nice weather. So get out there, have some fun and come back hungry in the fall to have your best season yet!
If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us!
And as always, if you need any hockey tips, drop me a line!
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