I’ve spoken many times about the importance of long-term off-ice development and how minor hockey players need to take it seriously if they want to perform at their absolute best. One of my biggest responsibilities as a professional strength coach is to educate parents about what their kids should be doing at specific times of the year, such as how much off-ice work and what kind of activities are beneficial for increasing their performance the following season.
With all the hype and misleading information out there, the off-ice hockey market and industry can leave many parents confused and overwhelmed about what to do and where to start. Last article I outlined what a full season should look like for off-ice preparation and this month I’d like to leave you with a list of pointers to consider when getting ready for next season.
1. After a long regular season take the skates off. Continuing to play more hockey will not necessarily make you better. Go play another sport! It is well known that some of the best hockey players are also the best athletes on the ice simply because they are involved in different kinds of off-ice sports.
2. Players cannot expect to get stronger if they don’t give their body a break from too much activity during the week. 1-2 days per week of activity and 2-3 days a week of strength training during the off-season is enough to see considerable results without burning out.
3. Work on specific skills instead of just playing more hockey after the regular season. Find a good power skating instructor and work on better puck handling drills.
4. Sit down with your parents and discuss your goals for the following season. It’s best to actually write them down and post them on the fridge, don’t just talk about it.
5. Make an action plan to figure out how to achieve the results you need to get better for the next season. Be specific and hold yourself accountable, no one else.
6. Find a good physical therapist who specializes in Active Release Therapy and practices Trigger Point Therapy as well. It will be one of the best investments you can make in order to fix your weak links and maintain the integrity of your mobility and movement.
7. Most kids never stretch on their own so I’d highly recommend finding a power yoga class 2-3 days per week for at least an hour. Never underestimate the importance of flexibility.
8. Increase your level of conditioning closer to the end of the summer, about one month out from tryouts. Make sure you understand hockey specific conditioning. Long distance running around a track will not prepare you for tryouts.
9. Find a good one week on-ice conditioning and skills camp right before tryouts begin. You don’t have to play hockey all summer long, but continue to play some kind of ground sports or activity.
10. Read a great inspirational book. Find a biography about your role model or favorite athlete, it will instill confidence and desire to be the best you can possible be and get ready for the next season.