Offseason has begun for hockey players nationwide as summer approaches. There are many physical activities that young athletes can and should do individually or with their families to continue developing as an athlete during these times.
In addition to these ideas, plenty of other resources are available to young athletes from USA Hockey, including a webinar with Dr. Dean Kriellaars on “Excellence in Performance and Participation.” Also, dryland resources and off-ice training cards are great for new exercises and activities.
USA Hockey: How important is it for athletes to stay active while spending most of their time at home?
Kristen Wright: It’s very important for athletes, and really all kids and adults, while we’re spending all this time at home. We talk about physical literacy and how important it is that we have people getting physical activity in. Without it, there are a lot of studies that show low physical activity can lead to future physical injuries, psychological issues and even non-communicable diseases. Physical activity and participation helps kids build their confidence, motivation and all the positive attributes that anyone can have. It’s a really important thing for everyone to be doing right now.
USAH: What kinds of exercises should the athletes be focused on doing during these limitations?
KW: Really anything. You can’t go wrong by just doing something as simple as walking around the block, taking a walk with your family, taking the dog for a walk. Being proficient on the ground is a great place to start. Brian Galivan, who is the director of sports science for USA Hockey's NTDP, talks about getting in 30 minutes of physical activity in the morning and 30 minutes of physical activity in the afternoon. It can be anything. If you’re part of the older-age levels and you can follow some of the workouts that involve weights in the house, that’s great. But, little kids, anything from tag to jumping up and down to juggling, anything that’s going to build their proficiencies on the ground and in the air. If you’re like us in Colorado where we have snow, any sort of fun activity with that so they are playing on the ice or snow. Even if you’re going to be tossing a ball to your kid, they can be hopping up and down on one foot while you do it. Anything where you build that hand-eye coordination will help build that physical literacy within the body.
USAH: Are there hockey-specific things players could be working on while at home, whether in the living room or the driveway?
KW: They can absolutely work on skills which are very hockey-specific, whether that’s passing with their stick rings, shooting pucks at a target in the garage or in the basement, or stickhandling. We believe it’s best that they build their physical engine across the board while doing other things as well. Basic skills, stickhandling, shooting are hockey-specific things to work on at home, outside of building strength, flexibility and other types of coordination.
USAH: What other sports, or elements of other sports, can young players use to continue developing during isolation?
KW: Really any sport. We saw great examples come out from U.S. Tennis of games you can play at home with your kids that are tennis-related. One was balloon tennis. You don’t need a racket for that. You bounce a balloon back and forth across an invisible net — or, visible net, if you want to make a net out of something in your own house.
Elements from any sport are an option. Getting that variety in the movement is really important. That’s one example that we’ve seen, but kids should just really be given the opportunity to play. Any sport that you’re able to do at home based on your backyard, your home, your basement and what’s available — it doesn’t have to be sporting equipment
USAH: What other fun or unique ideas that teams or players are using to inspire each other to stay active? Any that you’ve noticed on social media that have jumped out at you as nice ideas to encourage each other?
KW: There have been a lot of things on social media coming out with a lot of professional athletes doing certain things at home, different competitions. I know there were basketball players showing different ways that they were keeping track of baskets in their driveway, shooting baskets with little pieces of paper, shooting it across the house.
We’ve seen the hockey example with juggling a roll of toilet paper. You have your hockey stick and you see how many times you can juggle it on your stick. That’s one we’ve seen as well. That progression, that competition helps the athletes build that competence and confidence. It is really important for that physical literacy cycle that we see them have some sort of motivation to participate.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.