Nobody would blame you for not having hockey as the first sport you think of in the summer. After playing the game for almost three quarters of the year, taking a step back and rejuvenating mentally and physically is important for returning next season fully prepared for the new year of hockey.
Playing different sports in the off-season helps to boost movement skills and creates a more complete athlete. There are many transferable skills from sport to sport but most carry the important aspect of hand-eye coordination. Signing up for another sport in the summer keeps your body physically active while introducing you to new groups of teammates and approaches to a game.
Here are some summer sports that can boost hand-eye coordination and other hockey skills:
Being able to dribble the ball while moving and keeping your head up at the same time is one of the key basic skills of basketball. The sport also offers lessons in spacing – you need to work to get open for a shot. Additionally, basketball offers a very similar up-and-down the court action to hockey and all players are responsible on both offence and defence. There is also the concept of playing man or zone defence. Perhaps the most striking similarity is the 5-on-5 gameplay, the same amount of players per side as in hockey.
Tennis offers lessons in power and speed bursts. Being able to hit the ball in the location where you want it to go is great for accuracy practice and moving to and from the net in quick succession is great for learning how to appropriately use your speed. Putting some spin on the ball as well as hitting backhand or forehand teaches different shot techniques, much like in hockey. The sport also allows players to participate individually or with a partner, changing the mental aspect of the game.
Much like basketball, soccer offers a fast-paced, quick-thinking style of play. The sport is great for working on footwork and has a similar action to one-timers on fast passes. Cycling the ball back to the defence for a reset mimics what can happen on the ice. Just because the ball isn’t moving forward doesn’t mean the offence isn’t working.
Quick reaction times and critical thinking skills are just some of the benefits that baseball offers. Making smart decisions on the basepaths and being able to judge the strike zone helps to build the mental side of an athlete. Being aware of how many outs there are is another aspect of the game that can affect what decisions are made. And of course, hitting the ball at the plate requires a great deal of hand-eye coordination.
The OMHA Players Club offers multiple challenges to its members aimed at improving specific hockey skills. Participants can work at their own pace and can complete the challenge without having to leave their driveway. Plus, those who send in a completed tracking sheet are eligible to win prizes from Bauer Hockey.
It’s clear there are multiple ways to stay active in the summer while still improving your hockey skills away from the ice. Which activity will you choose?