AHU Coach’s Corner: Off-season training, having fun with it, must go together
At this age group, players should be watching hockey all the time and learning the fundamentals of this sport. At this age, players should be attending things like Kurt Goar’s camp to help develop skill and have fun. Players would benefit at this age by skating with a power skating coach such as Holly Harrington. Holly is great with young players to develop and improve their skating stride at a young age. Always remember that one of the most important things at this age is to HAVE FUN.
As a Squirt, you can start doing some quick feet agility exercises on and off the ice. This is just body weight stuff so that way you can stay healthy longer in your career. If you start lifting at an early age, it can really mess up your growth and at times, it can cause you to get burned out. As a Squirt, some of the most important things that you should be doing are stickhandling and shooting pucks off the ice. I think that this is important at all ages. Again, HAVE FUN.
This is when you can start ramping up the training a bit. The agility things you do as a Squirt should come natural by now and you can start training a little longer. At this point, you should start doing some body weight stuff to improve strength. These could include push-ups, body weight squats, lunges and even some sit-ups. Again, shooting pucks at this age is a must because your body is starting to grow and shooting pucks will help a lot with strength. Make this fun for yourself – maybe create a shot chart and record how many shots you take a day. Start a 500-shot club and make that your goal for the week. This is also a good idea for coaches to do for their teams. HAVE FUN.
At this age, kids are starting to learn how to hit. Some kids at this age might be 6-foot-1 and others may be 5-foot-3. That being said, starting to workout at this age is a must. You will realize that working out will obviously help with your strength, but it will also help with your confidence. Confidence is a big thing for hockey players because the game moves at such a fast pace that you have to have confidence in your abilities. Core strength is the most important thing to off-ice hockey training. This is where hockey players generate most of their strength. When you are shooting pucks, again sticking to the fundamentals, try shooting off balance and shooting in uncomfortable situations. HAVE FUN.
Start working out more heavily. This is a time in your life where your body is growing and will be able to put on some size. Work on the core strength and start progressively working out harder and harder. Kids should be attending off-season camps and maybe even a couple showcases. This is not a must. It will not make or break your career, but if you are good enough and want to do it, this will help get your name out there. HAVE FUN.
This is all an outline and just some things that kids can do. The biggest thing to do in the summer is to stay active and get to the rink a couple times a week. Always remember, have a blast getting better at hockey.
Colten St. Clair is the head coach and general manager of the Phoenix Knights Tier II junior team in the Western States Hockey League and the skills coach for the Arizona Hockey Union.