The off-season is the perfect time to build your routine.
By Kelvin Cech
The dog days of summer are enough to zap the energy out of anybody, let alone a teenaged hockey player with other things on his mind during the off-season.
Maintaining proper habits and routine while training during the summer can mean a world of difference.
For junior-hopefuls who may be on the bubble, it’s the difference between making the team and being sent back to midget.
For midget players, it’s the difference between playing on the first power play unit and watching from the bench.
For peewee and bantam-aged players, you can’t make the team in July, but you can certainly eliminate yourself from consideration.
Here’s three crucial summer training habits for all hockey players.
It’s easy to forget that 15 year-old hockey players don’t have their drivers’ license yet, they can’t vote and most of them can’t tell a dishwasher from a washing machine.
Ok, there are 31 year-old former hockey players-turned coaches who don’t know that last one either, but the fact remains that the summer is a time to be a kid. People believe that because the Jones’ are on the ice training year-round that they need to keep up.
This is false.
Training for hockey is about quality over quantity. So, what’s a young hockey player to do?
• Ride a bike.
• Go swimming.
• Play a brand new sport.
Hockey is a game, but it’s a stressful game once the season begins. Summers for teenagers and almost-teenagers should be stress-free.
2. Rest & Recovery
Coaches can tell when players are tired.
The hockey season is a grind no matter what age, but particularly for 14, 15 and 16 year-olds who are pushed to the limits from the middle of August until the end of March.
The psychical toll on a body that’s not fully developed can’t be understated, so once the spring rolls around, the time is right to re-capture proper eating habits and sleep patterns.
Does this mean sleeping in until noon every day and then eating a gigantic steak is the key to cracking a junior squad?
Teenagers need a lot of rest, there’s no denying that.
So, sleep till nine, eat a big breakfast chock-filled with fruit-based carbohydrates, whole grains and protein. Then go back to bed if you need to.
Or, better yet, go mow the lawn for Dad.
(You can nap later.)
3. Mental Awareness
This one is a little less tangible, but awareness of one’s own mental state has been a controversial topic for years that’s only now attracting public attention.
Your son or daughter is not a hockey player.
Your son or daughter plays hockey.
In the wake of the Terry Trafford tragedy it’s never been more important for young hockey players to recognize when they’ve had enough. No sport is worth a persistently negative experience, let alone a life.
It’s important for teenage hockey players in particular to recognize when they’re mentally or physically exhausted. The problem is that some parents or coaches equate fatigue with ‘being soft’ or lacking dedication to their careers.
As a wise man once told me, hockey is not a career until you’re paid for it.
From a parent’s perspective alone, forcing a tired hockey player to train is a waste of three main things:
√ parents’ money (on and off-ice sessions your child isn’t committed to)
√ parents’ time (driving to and from the rink or the gym)
√ parents’ energy (every parent stresses about what’s best for their child)
When it comes to spring hockey, lessons and summer training, regardless of parents, over-tired hockey players simply don’t retain nearly as much information or routines as fresh, motivated athletes.
Take some time off this summer. Either in June or July, and then get back on your skates once the time is right. No matter what age, you’ll come back hungry and eager to take the next step.
The Most Important Question to Ask This Summer
“What do I want?”
It’s astonishing how many answers this simple question yields.
• Right now, I want to eat an entire pizza, but in two months, I want to make the Midget A1 team.
• Right now, I want to improve my skating, but I also want to go to a movie with my buddies.
• Right now, I want to attend every possible on-ice session available to me, but I also want to not hate hockey.
This summer, listen to yourself and balance your life. With proper habits in nutrition, rest and recovery, it’s possible to have a relaxing, fun and productive summer no matter want you want to do.