This my personal advice for all hockey players out there around the age of 8-16 years old. I have been down this road, made a lot of mistakes and see parents to this day continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.
I hope no one takes offense to this, but if the shoe fits and a lot of this sounds like you. It may be time to reconsider what you are doing for your youth hockey player.
First and foremost, multi-sport athletes are the latest and hottest buzz. Parents have this dream their kid is going to get three college offers to play three sports in college. Or parents say things like, it keeps the kid athletic and developing different skills. I agree with playing multiple sports, what I do not agree with is half-assing what you do in life. A lot of these young kids who play two to three sports a year, have one true love by the time they hit about 11,12,13 years old therefore they know what sport they really love so anytime they do their other two sports it's dreadful, boring and they put in mediocre effort with a poor attitude. That is my objection to playing multiple sports, if your kid is on the fence about one sport, drop it, you are doing your son/daughter any good teaching them to hate something and put in zero effort.
Now the advice I have for young hockey players is this. Take inventory on your past season, what do you do well? What do you do poorly? What can you improve on? What are some things that you do not do because it is tedious? What was a certain situation I noticed in games that I struggle with? Questions like these are important. Have a clear vision of your game, honestly critique yourself and be better. Next thing you should 1000% be doing is strength training, the game of hockey has got too fast and if you cannot keep up and or be physically prepared for the demands of the game, all the time on the ice you are spending will go unnoticed. Even being a bigger sized player, if you cannot hold your own on the ice, protect the puck well and use your size to your advantage, I know there are a lot of undersized players who will do your job. After that, include your kid in your offseason plans for them. I am not saying, allow them to make decision but at least say "hey Johnny we are signing you up for this summer travel team that practices 6 times all summer and goes to three tournaments on the weekends", if they object then you know where their heart lies.
Continuing off my last paragraph just starting a new one to break up some text here. A common thing you hear for players around 11+ years old is the term "burn out" :O , it is a word not many parents want to hear and or come to grips with but unfortunately due to lack of education a lot of parents end up burning their kid out without even knowing it. Personally I think the last thing a kid needs is to go from the end of the season in March to trying out/practicing/playing in tournaments come April, May, June. You want to see a kid burn out, have him play six months of hockey, go to school (online or in person) and then do it all again with just two weeks off. Now, I never truly played on a summer team growing up, I played hockey during the school year, went to some camps, did some showcases and or just worked out and stayed in shape all summer. My personal opinion is that these summer travel teams I see parents signing up for and doing is the biggest waste of time and money. The tournaments bring no real value to the kids games, some tournaments have different rules, the travel in the summer at a young age is such a bore and exhausting that you yourself as parents do not want to do it anymore.
When you are probably better off, leaving them out of summer hockey (this goes for kids 15 and younger by the way), finding them a trainer in the area, allowing them to workout 3 times a week and then finding some ice 1-2x a week, go to two camps in the summer, play another sport, learn a new hobby, play golf, go fishing, go camping, spend time with your family not doing anything hockey related. I can almost guarantee that recipe will turn into better development, no burn out and a fresh attitude and mindset come the start of the season.
I say this because when I was playing in college, I did not play any other sport but hockey year round. All I did once the season ended was put my skates away for a month, relax, unwind and get ready for the off-season. In the off-season I would skate two, maybe three times a week, the third would be an unorganized game of pick up hockey. I would work out 4-5x a week, run 1-2x a week, stick handle when I could, work wherever I could, spend time with friends and take my mind off hockey but still understand the importance of being ready come August for training camp. When I started doing this, I had the three best year of my entire hockey career, sophomore, junior, senior year of college. The most stressful times, yet I performed so well on the ice during the season. Maybe a MORE relaxed off-season approach helped?
Too summarize this in bulletin point fashion so it is easier for the eyes, here you go.
- Find a second sport for your athlete (not three or four, just a second sport)
- Get them a trainer 2-3x a week (if they do stick handling and shooting, great)
- Get them registered for a camp or two in the summer (great if specialized to their position, goalie camp, defenseman camp, forward camp)
- Find them a reoccurring ice time 1-2x a week for the summer
- Find a hobby (golf, fishing, guitar, outdoor activities, learn to cradle a lacrosse ball maybe)
- Spend time as a family and with friends (go on family vacation)
- Allow them to be a kid and have fun
Any questions any parents have, please never hesitate to reach out. My email is email@example.com
Have a great off-season!