The summer is here, and many players are now enjoying the “off-season.” This is the time of year where good players become great. This time of year separates the players who are serious about the game, and those who are not. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked “what should my player do this summer” – and I’m sure many other coaches out there hear it all the time. I wanted to share some quick thoughts on how to approach the off-season.
1. Time away from the rink is a good thing – without time to get away and recharge the batteries, players often become burned out. After the season (or tryouts for the following year) wraps up, give your skater a couple weeks away from the rink. Players who are playing for the right reasons will hit the ice again after the break with a renewed passion and energy.
2. Train appropriately – knowing how to train in the off season is a critical piece to player development. Young players should be allowed to have fun in their training without it becoming over-bearing. The older the player gets, the more intense the training becomes. Starting at the Midget (or High School) age, players need to be willing to put time in at the gym. The game is too fast and physical to enter the season out of shape – it’s flat-out dangerous. If you’re playing competitive travel, and aren’t willing to hit the gym Monday-Friday, you’ll be behind.
3. Refine your skills – be a rink rat, look for open ice time. Most rinks have an abundance of open ice this time of year. Look for times where you can work on specific parts of your game instead of getting in to bad habits by only doing “open hockey” sessions. The off-season is a great time to evaluate your own weaknesses as a player, and take steps to improve those weaknesses.
4. Hydrate – summer is an easy time for athletes to overlook the amount of water (notice I didn’t say soda, energy drinks, sugary juices, or sports drinks). With the heat, your body will perspire to attempt to keep the body temperature down. Athletes who train can quickly become dehydrated if proper water intake is not monitored. A good rule of thumb here if you’re training hard is to drink one-half your body weight in ounces of water each day. So if you weight 200 lbs, you should consume at least 100 oz of water per day.
Over the next couple of weeks, we will be focusing on item #3 (refine your skills) and will be posting videos giving you some ideas on different drills you can do with a little bit of extra ice to polish your skills. Until then – train hard, train smart!