AHU Coach’s Corner: Getting rest a critical component to the offseason
Landon Donovan, one of the most recognizable faces in men’s soccer, is also an avid Pilates practitioner.
What does Pilates have to do with soccer? Donovan says, “I love Pilates because we do very specific training in soccer for the same six or seven muscles, but we neglect so many other muscles. So when I do Pilates, it helps get all the rest of the muscles in shape and gets them working together.”
Hockey is a long season. When a season is over, your body is ready for recovery mode. Hockey players need well-conditioned, all-around body strength, power and speed to play the game shift after shift. Players need highly developed anaerobic capacity to recover quickly and play consistently. The offseason is a great time to evaluate strength and conditioning weaknesses in agility, stability, strength and endurance.
The Arizona Hockey Union typically starts the season with the Labor Day Tournament and doesn’t end until March playoffs and tournaments. Then players quickly transition to staying on the ice in Spring Skills clinics preparing for tryouts. So once tryouts are over, then what?
Staying active in other sports and activities is great offseason training.
Youth sports today are very different from a generation ago. Youth sports are facing two trends – a greater percentage of athletic time devoted to structured competition and specialization in a single sport. There is also a dramatic rise in overuse injuries in youth sports. Children and teens who spend twice as much time playing a single organized sport are more likely to be injured, often from insufficient rest periods. The constant use of the same parts of the body puts the same stress on the same part of the body over and over again. If it were up to the leaders of USA Hockey, that trend would be eliminated. USA Hockey advocates being more well-rounded.
These trends have come at the expense of children having the chance to play multiple sports, develop actual athleticism and play some sports simply for enjoyment. The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine has published evidence that playing multiple sports during childhood and adolescence is more effective than single-sport specialization in developing successful athletes.
Using other muscles will build athleticism and help you elevate your game. Great strength and conditioning means you subscribe to a well-rounded training program that develops all muscles, not just those used when playing hockey. It also means that while hockey may be your first love, playing other sports and conditioning in the offseason will help you be a better player in the long run. The sports data finds early single-sport specialization may actually be detrimental to long-term success in team sports.
While playing summer hockey can still be a fun part of staying on the ice and keeping active, playing other sports and activities over the summer also helps make sure players don’t get burned out and can come back to the sport with enthusiasm. If you are playing summer hockey, try using the opportunity to try a new position. It will develop a new hockey sense on the ice and better understanding of the game. Summer hockey camps can give you a more intensive learning opportunity to dramatically improve skill and technique in a short period of time.
Rest is a part of training, so regardless of how you choose to spend the summer, be sure to include a minimum of one day of rest each week from organized training and competition.
Let’s work together to help our young AHU athletes stay healthy, avoid burnout, have fun and build a solid foundation for a lifetime of hockey.
Kurt Goar is Arizona Hockey Union’s coach-in-chief.