Hockey season may be over, but players can enjoy off-ice activities to keep in shape and have fun this summer. Every good hockey coach knows that to achieve a player’s full potential, hockey players should use their off-season time to develop their athletic skills and the best way to do that is to play other sports.
Other sports help players work on coordination, agility and balance. In addition, playing with other players and coaches provide players with a well-rounded perspective and develops their teamwork skills. Outdoor sports and activities provide players with much needed sun and vitamin D. Using summer to take a break from hockey also helps prevent hockey burnout and allows them to come back to hockey next season with a more positive attitude and a renewed passion for hockey.
Many hockey greats agree:
- “Have other coaches. Hang around other kids, other parents. I think that’s all healthy… If you look at the best players in all sports, they’re athletes— they play other sports.” Bobby Orr.
- “It is so noticeable on a hockey team that the kids who have played other sports and experienced different things are always the smarter players on your team, and they are able to handle adversity better… I want our scouts to look at athletes not just strictly hockey players.” Brent Sutter, WHL coach.
- “All the good hockey players seemed to play lacrosse in those days and every one of them learned something from the game to carry over to the other – things athletes can only learn by mixing up the games they play when they are young.” Wayne Gretzky.
Here is our list of the top 10 sports that are good options for hockey players to play in their off-season:
Squash is becoming a more popular game as people realize how fast paced an exciting a sport it truly is. Squash promotes healthy competition. Other advantages of playing squash: cardio, flexibility, hand/eye coordination, change of direction, footwork, and acceleration.
Baseball is a truly beloved sport that kids really enjoy playing. Since it is such a fun sport to play, it is a great stress reliever; players can feel refreshed and achieve better mental focus. Besides the fun aspect, baseball offers hockey players help with refining their hockey skills including hand/eye coordination. Let’s not forget that baseball is a great sport to help maintain and develop strong arms and legs, both of which will help hockey players when they are back on the ice.
Soccer is a great off season sport for hockey players. Similar to hockey, it is an “invasion” sport and helps hockey players practice strategy and tactics, teamwork concepts and patterns of movement. Soccer also helps players practice foot skills and body fakes which are easily transferable to hockey season.
Basketball is an exciting game to play and can be played as a full team sport or just with a handful of people for a pick-up game. Basketball is a very active sport and can burn up to 750 calories an hour which can help hockey players stay fit in the off season. Basketball also improves endurance, hand/eye coordination, and balance. Basketball is also an ideal sport to practice and improve body fakes which is an essential skill in hockey.
Lacrosse is one of the fastest sports on two feet. Very similar to hockey, lacrosse is about the flow of the game in terms of offense and defense constantly trying to find an opening to take advantage in the game. Lacrosse is a great cardio sport that promotes hand/eye coordination and helps players practice body fakes.
Hockey and football are surprisingly similar. Players need stamina, strength, agility, speed and fast reaction time to perform well at either sport. Football increases aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health, both of which are important for hockey players. Football also allows players to progress with their body fake skills.
Biking is a great cross-training activity to provide conditioning of the legs, heart and lungs. Biking is a great cardio workout which helps hockey players maintain and improve endurance during the summer months.
A great cardiovascular activity is running. According to Complete Conditioning for Hockey by Peter Twist, high tempo, high speed runs produce more benefit for hockey players than long, slow jogs. Using a high speed pace improves fitness in a way that closely matches hockey, improving the endurance of a player’s muscles which is critical to keep up speed late in a hockey game.
Swimming is a great choice for hockey player both off-season and during hockey season. It helps players stay in shape, increases circulation and builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.
10. Any team sport
When it comes down to it, playing a team sport off-season will help hockey players immensely. By allowing them to play with different players and coaches and experience different coaching and training styles, hockey players are able to adapt and be more flexible to new situations. Also, playing on any other sport’s team allows hockey players to continue to develop their teamwork skills, sometimes in a less competitive environment.
Taking a Summer Break from Hockey and Playing a Different Sport Can Be Beneficial to Hockey Players
So, in order to make sure your hockey player gets a good start to next hockey season, support them in playing a different sport this summer. It will help them develop both physically and mentally and make them a more well-rounded player and person.
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