By Hockey IntelliGym
Despite science that suggests it is counterproductive to focus solely on one sport, for many kids hockey is a twelve month endeavor.
This can cause a range of bad outcomes such as burnout, injuries, falling interest in the game, and a reduced progress for young players.
Still, despite overwhelming evidence supporting the argument that never ending hockey seasons are a bad idea, parents support kids playing the sport all year long.
You're the advocate
As a parent or coach, you are the child’s advocate. You need to be keeping a keen eye out for any sign of staleness in your young athlete.
Staleness is when an athlete has difficulty maintaining their regular training regimen and fails to perform up to previous levels of achievement. Sometimes this can just show up as a bit of a slump and the athlete finds their way out of it after a bit of time. However, this staleness, if left unchecked, can develop into much larger problems.
Staleness is a precursor to burnout. Unfortunately if you don’t notice that your young athlete is getting stale, you can easily find them emotionally, psychologically, and physically drained.
For many minor hockey players this leads them to quit playing hockey; permanently. The good news is that if detected early enough, you can take steps to help your athlete avoid experiencing prolonged staleness and burnout.
Factors leading to staleness
Several factors can lead to staleness. These include:
• Long seasons
• Monotony of training (caused by unvaried training)
• Lack of positive reinforcement
• Abusiveness from authority figures
• Competitive stress
• Perceived low levels of accomplishment
How can you help
If you really want your kid excel at hockey then make sure they get a break from it. Other sports provide this break and allow kids to stay fit and hone cognitive and other skills that translate into hockey. Most importantly they help prevent staleness.
If your child absolutely has to be involved in hockey there are ways to mix things up. Varied training is critical. One way to do that is focus less on physical and skills training in the offseason and more on cognitive training. Tools like Hockey IntelliGym – a software tool that hones things like spatial awareness, anticipation of the play and the ability to read the game – are a great way to keep kids in touch with hockey but in a manner that prevents staleness. Cognitive training has been shown to help reduce injuries, so as an offseason solution it can pay dividends once the season kicks back up.
Whatever your kids want, this off season, do your best to ensure they stay engaged with hockey long term by disengaging with it short term.