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Off-ice training excellent for team building within AHU


ahuNow that the stress of tryouts is over, and the 100-degree temperatures are upon us, it’s time to focus on the 2017-18 season.

Each year brings changes to every Arizona Hockey Union (AHU) team and with those changes bring new challenges for the coaching staff.

How does the organization make the new families feel welcome in the organization? What can it do to increase the team cohesion before the season starts?


For AHU’s West side 10U Purple team, led by head coach Shawn Babin, that means another year of team off-ice training. With the majority of the team playing together for the last three years, five new families joining the team this year brings new opportunities. Purple has partnered with Orange Theory Fitness in Peoria to custom tailor high-intensity workouts for the players, to better prepare them for the rigors of the season. Nothing turns players into teammates like sweating, whether it be on the ice or on a bike.

Kye Friend, 10U Purple forward said: “It is fun being out there with my team. We all work hard and I am excited about the upcoming season.”

This year, the Purple team makes the move from Minor to Major, bringing with it a new level of competition. Having the players enter the season in the mindset of “work hard, play hard” is something that these training sessions are preparing them for.

In the hockey world, more does not always mean better.

The players must have the time to heal and re-energize and an excellent time to do that is during the summer. Taking time away from the ice rink has many advantages. Couple that with team building activities and you have a formula that leads to greater team unity. Activities that challenge players and parents, leading them to a single goal, help foster lasting relationships. That is something everyone can appreciate when you’re spending the better part of a year together.

AHU team managers Jen Friend and Joanne Rosal have planned team building activities throughout the summer, including heading up to Flagstaff to run the extreme rope course and organizing family barbecues. All this teaches the players that there is more to being on a team than just playing a game.

On the East side of town, the 18U AA Black team, headed by coaches Chris Campbell and Lars Hjalmquist, is taking part in a vigorous training program at Triplex Training in Chandler, a facility that understands the needs of athletes. Owner and trainer Kyle Herrig and trainer Alex Barta have personally designed a training plan that pushes the players to their limits. They are focusing on cardio, strength training, nutrition and proper hydration for performance. This unique program incorporates team building, ensuring they have fun as well as train hard together.

The summer time is also a great time to “tune up” any weak spots in the player’s game. Many Purple players take the summer to work with personal trainers or coaches on their skating, shooting and positioning. There are also a multitude of specialized camps in the Valley to take advantage of, and they do.

All this hard work and dedication is sure to pay off when the season begins as the players will have already have learned about each other, themselves and formed new relationships. These new relationships will only help the team gel and be ready to work when the puck drops this September.

In reality, it is all about getting the players together without the pressure of a game, having them grow and learn what it takes to be a great teammate and more importantly, a great person.

— Bryan O’Sullivan

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