The summer months can be used for a number of purposes; relaxing after a long school year and hockey season, trying new activities or going on vacation. Stepping away from the rink in the off-season can be beneficial for a hockey player and playing other sports during this time helps to build a more complete, well-rounded athlete.
There are a number of hockey schools available across the province this summer that can provide players with added skills ahead of the upcoming pre-season. If you are interested in possibly signing up for one, it is important to do proper research before registering. There are quality hockey schools that exist but finding the right fit only adds to the experience.
Remembering the importance of physical literacy, using other sports to help in overall athleticism will only be beneficial in the long run. There are many sports to play in the summer that have transferrable skills to hockey while staying away off of the ice. Team games like basketball and soccer can teach movement, spacing and coordination while a sport like tennis can instill differing shot techniques and accuracy.
“If you have a hockey program where you combine it with lacrosse, or rugby’s a great support type sport where you have to support each other going down the field. Even ultimate Frisbee is a good one too because it’s a move the Frisbee move your feet kind of thing… it sort of ties into the game of hockey. A lot of programs are branching out that way,” said Jim Mercer, a regional development leader with the OMHA Coaches Program
Finding the right fit in a hockey school is important in making sure it ends up as a positive experience. Mercer suggests researching the philosophy and lesson plans of different schools and matching your choice to the one that offers what you want it to provide. Being able to master fewer skills in a shorter amount of time over learning a lot but not spending time to put in the proper work could be a factor. Repetition is the key to build and develop skills.
“It’s a process working with kids. You have that progression, you want to build upon skillset upon skillset so you have to be able to break that down.”
Still, taking a break over the summer may be the best way to keep hockey fresh and reduce both physical and mental burnout of the sport.
“They just had a whole long season and a month or two off isn’t going to hurt a hockey player. It’s all muscle memory. It’s like any sport. You don’t forget once you learn how to ride a bike. It’s one of those things, I don’t think it’s crucial.”
Some tips from Mercer when looking into hockey schools are:
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