We have all heard the models and theories about hockey development. What we want for our youth hockey player is to play to their potential and have fun with the great game of hockey. Burnout is real and a serious outcome for many players. Some of the top players in the younger age groups may have started playing at 3 or 4 years old and by the age of 13 they have already spent almost a decade on the ice. Now we know the crazy parents and coaches that put their kids on the ice 5 days a week and as much as 5 hours on a given day. Yes those player have gotten a lot of touches and can play at a high level but is that the right approach? Experts say no yet the pattern is repeated more than corrected. During offseason could an easy daily game of basketball with friends for a week be just as rewarding and valuable for the hockey player as 1 tournament and 10 hours of practice on the ice? Likely not but this basketball game will allow the player to explore their athletic ability so they may be able to adapt to new aspects of the game of hockey. Ice development is important but brain development and athletic development is more important. The right amount of hockey is also having time to do other things besides hockey. It is difficult to stay on task here because hockey is always there all the time in any season.
Hockey has become a large and successful business and it is always available. Players are constantly provided opportunities to play in tournaments, train and even vacation with hockey. Although many of these opportunities are very good opportunities for players to develop and learn they can also create a rat race atmosphere that can create overtraining or fatigue for players. For the sake of your player do not participate in this rat race. Find opportunities to develop and stay sharp but also find opportunities to compete in other activities, recover, and most importantly have fun becoming young student athletes. By it’s very nature, sport places unequal loads on different parts of the body. One leg or arm is used more than the other. Agonists (like the quadriceps) are stressed to a greater extent than antagonists (such as the hamstrings). And smaller, but very important stabilizing muscles are neglected while large muscle groups grow stronger and more powerful. A good off season training program will address these imbalances helping to prevent both acute and longer term chronic injuries.
Elite hockey players need to evaluate themselves. Examine their on ice performance and realize the solutions are off the ice. Players have to constantly self evaluate and determine the following: 1) Are they fast enough? 2) Are they quick and agile enough? 3) Are they strong and tough enough on the puck? and 4) Are they playing at the highest level possible for themselves? Most of the answers to being successful in developing these skills occurs off the ice. Successful Cardiovascular, Resistance and Flexibility training can help improve results but also the skater can go a long way but just going out there away from the ice and having fun with his friends. So the right amount of ice time is? It will be different for every player and their current level but it definitely is not more than 5 hours a week and a tournament every weekend for the youth hockey player. Step back and make better decisions to foster a deeper love of the great game of hockey.
The goal of myedgehockey.com is to be a advocate for talented youth hockey players. Good luck to all that participate in elite youth hockey and best wishes to all youth hockey families. To be notified of programs we run please apply.