Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another Season of Hockey Ends

by Tammie Vivlamore

The Off-Season Begins
Which means parents can breathe for a moment and catch up on all the things that they tend to put aside during the games, practices and travel of hockey season. A season that cost us all time, energy and precious sleep. Wow, you actually get to see your spouse for more than 30 seconds at a time! The end of the season means your kids are a little stronger, a little taller, and a little less hungry (or not)! Not much winter cushion on a hockey player!

Time for an Ice Break?
Nothing wrong with that! It’s okay to play a little hooky from playing hockey. You should not extend yourself and your pocket book trying to find ice time or a summer league if your child really doesn’t want to keep skating. A break from the ice can be a good thing. Whether you know it or not, a lot of non-hockey games are excellent for postseason conditioning.

Conditioning is Key
Conditioning is physical and/or mental activities that prepare an athlete for an upcoming season or performance. It is primarily done by serious athletes that have a specific goal they are trying to reach such as the Olympics, NHL, college, juniors, high school, etc.

Specific conditioning is generally not stressed until an athlete is at or close to high school age and that athlete has a specific goal in mind. “Strides” is a popular conditioning program for hockey, soccer and lacrosse. Strides is held at the CNY Family Center on Jones Road in Baldwinsville as well as other locations. ESL Arena in Rochester offers a skating treadmill and various off-season conditioning programs. The results of these programs vary especially for the younger athletes.

Get Down with Down Time
USA Hockey recommends down time for all hockey players especially young hockey players. Down time is simply time away from a sport or activity. Down time gives the muscles (including brain) a much needed rest from the sport or activity. It also is a good way to prevent burnout. Down time allows the player to pursue other interests, activities or just take in a little rest and relaxation.

Scoring Off the Ice
USA Hockey and many NHL players (current and past) recommend playing other sports or doing other activities though out the year. For the younger hockey players, this is all the conditioning they really need for next hockey season. Many coaches and talent scouts believe that athletes that participated in more than one sport before college make better athletes in their chosen sport in college.

Different sports work different muscles and promote thought and creativity which can be carried over to hockey season. If young athletes choose to play soccer, lacrosse, baseball, football or any combination of sports, they will be learning maneuvering, body contact, positioning and team play as well as strengthening their muscles, lungs and heart. Whether they know it or not they will be conditioning themselves for next hockey season.

Musical Scores
Some athletes such as Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist believe that music and art can be excellent conditioners. Both Miller and Lundqvist are guitarists in bands. Miller’s band has played in Rochester and Michigan in past off seasons. Both goalies believe that playing the guitar has a calming effect, clears the mind and helps increase dexterity and reaction time. Does this work? Check out their stats on NHL.com

Still Itching for Ice Time?
After all these activities if your child still wants to get on the ice to improve or get a better shot at making that travel team, a clinic or two might be a good option. Clinics generally focus on skating or a specific area of hockey. For parents, there's plenty to consider when weighing options including cost, location and scheduling.

Top Notch Skating Clinic
Maximum Development, www.mdhockey.com, is being held at Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena in August. MD focuses on skating. They break it down and really stress stride and proper skating mechanics.

Specialized Clinic
Turcotte Stick Handling, www.Turcottehockey.com, will also be held at Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena in August. They are a specialized clinic focusing strictly on stick handling. They teach the skills that can be worked on in the yard or basement. (You don’t need ice to practice stick handling). Most hockey practices do not focus on stick handling. Coaches expect players will work on those skills on their own time.

Finding the Right Fit
A week is too much ice time for your child over the summer? No problem. Check your local ice hockey association or ice rinks websites. Coaches from different organizations hold week night clinics through out the summer. Some charge for a certain number of clinics (one a week for six weeks or so). Some charge for only what you attend ($10 an hour, for example).

Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena will hold Sunday clinics again. Check out their website for details, http://www.bvilleice.com/. They have even added a peewee/bantam session this season.

Your child wants to just play and have fun without concentrating on …huh…skills?
Some of the year round ice rinks offer youth summer hockey in some form. Cicero sometimes holds youth summer hockey. These are usually no contact games that happen once or twice a week. Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena has held 3 on 3 leagues. These are fast paced cross ice games of 3 skaters aside. Check out the rinks websites to see what they have in store for the summer. Check them regularly, they change frequently.

OMG! Enough hockey!There are many options for conditioning. If you and your children do nothing else this off-season, enjoy your “no hockey” time and stay in contact with the friends you made during the season. Next season will surely be more fun as a result.

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