It sounds counter intuitive to today’s mindset but if you want to become a better hockey player this summer then stay away from the rink.
When did youth hockey become a 12-month sport? It seems right after the winter season ends, it’s the beginning of spring hockey, summer tournaments and summer leagues. It’s too much! This statement comes from a guy who ran 3on3 hockey leagues for 10 years. My reasoning was if you’re going to play summer hockey, then at least make it different and fun. I called it organized pond hockey and it was supposed to be only one hour a week for families that just had to get their hockey fix.
I encouraged kids to go have fun, enjoy the summer, get outside, play other sports and become an athlete first not just a hockey player. How will you know what other sports you might like, or excel at, if you never get the chance to try them? Summer was a time to recharge the batteries and relax the mind and body.
So what happened? Well, spring hockey happened. Suddenly teams and tournaments popped up everywhere and the continuation of 5on5 winter hockey ran through the summer. Parents felt the need to keep up or get left behind. Players were now playing and competing year round.
LEARN FROM THE PRO’s
What do professional hockey players do in the summer? Typically, right after the season the guys will retreat home or take a vacation and do absolutely nothing for a few weeks, letting all the aches and pains of a long season heal and allow the mind to fully rest. Depending on when your season wrapped up (playoffs or no playoffs) this relaxation time period will vary, Then the summer workouts begin. Players will slowly migrate back to the gym with their summer training programs, knowing the time to peak is when training camps resume in the fall. Start slow then build each week, getting stronger and faster as you go; it’s all part of the plan.
Building muscle, becoming faster, quicker, stronger will all develop off the ice. Take the time to properly train and your game will get better! Not only will you make physical gains but you’ll benefit greatly from the mental rest. You’ll rediscover the love of the game and the excitement of a new season rather than the mundane of a week to week grind.
WHEN TO HIT THE ICE?
Let a month or more pass before you even think about strapping on the blades. Pros will play a weekly scrimmage to get their timing back or work with a powerskating coach to improve their stride. For developing players, it’s okay to do a weekly skate or 3on3 hockey but let there be a gap from the end of the winter season to the summer skates.
As summer nears its’ end, you’re going to transition from gym hours to rink hours. The focus from off-ice training will shift to on-ice conditioning. This usually takes place a month or so out from the fall training camps. You’ll still want to keep an off-ice workout going but here’s where you start to zero-in on the hockey again.
Just in time for training camps, you’ll be leaner, stronger and quicker than you’ve ever been and you’ll have the physical and mental energy to attack another season of winter hockey. You will reap the rewards of a proper summer program of off-ice and on-ice development and you’ll be happy to have had the time spent with friends and family; which is the ultimate reward.
- Adam Bennett is a coach & mentor for student/athletes at International Hockey Academy Florida in Clearwater, FL. Visit www.ihaflorida.com for more information.