Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Taking an Ice Break this summer? Don't Sweat it!

Sophia at a summer hockey clinic 

Time for an Ice Break?
    Now that the season is over, are you giving hockey a rest? It can be tempting to have your kids play a sport that they're good at year round and sign them up for summer leagues. Perhaps you fear you're holding them back, or worry the other kids on the team will surpass them come next season. 
   Fueling our children's passion for hockey is one thing. But experts say we also need to be careful not to burn them out.

The Bigger Picture
Fulton PE teacher and longtime coach Kevin Ahern shares a bigger picture with advice on how to keep our kids active and why switching it up can be a good thing.

Sophia in goal for one of her first lacrosse games

 " As a physical education teacher, and having coached at every level in USA hockey, high school and college hockey I have had the great fortune of dealing with a vast array of athletes. I have coached those that play for pure recreation as well as those with the dreams of playing at the highest level of hockey. It is my personal feeling that we cannot underestimate the importance of playing multiple sports. At a time when our school yards are no longer filled with children playing after school or on the weekends it is imperative that children as well as young adults participate in multiple athletic experiences. Growing up in Central New York and playing for Oswego Minor Hockey I can tell you that I have just as many fond memories playing street hockey out on the snow covered roads for countless hours, or driving through games on the way to the rink, as in the rinks. The guys that I coach today with still have great debates who was better, the east or west side of Oswego. With the opportunities falling to the wayside for whatever societal reasons, we must do our best to provide these unstructured opportunities. Children enter and exit windows of trainability and skill acquisition and to specialize too early can impede this process, not allowing them to reach their full potential athletically. For me, growing up, my plate was filled with a multitude of sport experiences and summers filled with swimming, sailing and unstructured play. I can remember not thinking about hockey much in July and the beginning of August, but then getting that refreshed burning desire to get back on the ice that all truly passionate athletes need. I realize now that this time away provided me the opportunity not only to acquire complementary skill sets, but perhaps just as important, never having to face the feeling of being burnt out from the sport that I love so much. It is through these great life experiences as well as supporting research, that I am a huge proponent of the multi-sport athlete and encourage all of my athletes to be one. As long as they are active, doing something that puts a smile on their face, as a coach I am happy."

     Kevin Duy, creator of SportDadHub.com says each different sport his boys play compliments the other in some way. Here are his examples:

*Ice hockey strengthens their legs. Strong legs are important for speed and power in soccer and baseball.
*Soccer helps their footwork and agility which helps them in hockey if the puck gets kicked off their stick and into their skates, they can kick it back to their stick.  Footwork is also keep in fielding a baseball.
*Baseball helps their hand/eye coordination. That helps them deflect shots, take one-timers and accept passes in hockey. It helps them judge where a highly kicked soccer ball will come down on the field.

   Duy says by playing different sports, they're building and strengthening multiple muscle groups that will eventually help them in every sport as they get older and stronger.

Other than some driveway hockey, it's now one stick per season for Sophia!

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