>Choosing how to spend the off season

Posted: May 1, 2009 in Hockey

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Parental Guidance
For California Rubber Magazine
By CEAN BURGESON

From October until March hockey dominates the households of thousands of families across California — but what about the other six months out of the year?

There are a number of ways to spend the off season. Some players take the entire time off. For skaters who need to work on their skills, though, this can be detrimental. On the flip side, for those experiencing “hockey burnout,” it can be a beneficial experience to take a break from hockey and return in the fall fresh.

After all, there are other sports to participate in that can help to improve hockey athleticism, endurance, flexibility, and stamina such as baseball, soccer, lacrosse, gymnastics, biking, running, or swimming. The benefit of cross training in other sports has been scientifically proven and the model of engaging in a variety of sporting activities in the off season has been used by European hockey clubs for years.

For those die hard players who aren’t interested in any sport but hockey, there are also inline teams which allow kids to continue working on their strength, skating, shooting and stick handling, and of course summer ice hockey teams, which practice less frequently and travel to just a handful of tournaments over the course of the summer. The value of these teams is that they are generally more competitive, have stricter tryouts, and can expose players to a high level of play, all the way up to AA or AAA.

Many of these tournaments are international in nature, allowing youngsters a chance to play teams outside of their region, state, or country. And, as in the case of my family, you can build your summer vacation around a tournament in a fun location such as Vancouver to get more for your hockey buck and infuse a little more fun into the trip.

Another popular way to keep the hockey fires burning in the off season is of course the hockey camp. California and the surrounding states have a number of good ones focusing on different skill sets. Evaluate your player or ask for an evaluation from your coach about which type of camp would best benefit your child.

We all have our own reasons for choosing how we want to spend our summers and whether hockey is a part of it. The most important factors to take into account when making the decision depend on the skill level of the player, their desire to play, and what their goals are for the coming season. No matter how your youth hockey player chooses to spend the summer, though, keep them working in some way to help get them to the next level.

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