Summer hockey training can be a weird time for athletes. Most players finished in April and are probably about ready to get back on the ice. At the same time, the next season does not really rev up until the fall.
The summer can be a time where some strange things happen. Some players will get into summer leagues, tournament teams, skill training or nothing at all. Based on the Long-Term Athletic Development model it is helpful to take some time away from the sport.
That opens the door for strength and conditioning to be a key to summer hockey training programs. The following tips are helpful for maximizing the summer for hockey.
1. Prioritize Strength
The summer is the best time for hockey players to increase their strength levels.
It is hard to build a lot of strength at the end of a season. Most athletes do not lift at the frequency to maintain throughout the season. This means we have to almost rebuild our foundations after the season. This reset can be really beneficial to kickstarting preparation for next season.
When it comes to your strength training make sure your program focuses on developing total-body strength. It might be beach season but you are going to need strong legs next year. Strive to also include core stability.
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2. Improve Your Weak Points
This can include hockey-specific skills. Mobility needs help? Focus on it. Are you typically not a strong kid? Work on it.
The reason the summer is perfect to work on weak points is because there is so much time to improve and then reinforce those improvements. We see this in high-technique-based sports like golf. They will try to make a severe change too quickly and there is not enough time for it to really settle in.
By making a big change in the summer, you have the preseason to allow it to become part of your game.
3. Get off the Ice
It is recommended that hockey players do not play year round. This is especially true, the younger the athlete. Play different sports or take up a training program.
This variation is important for avoiding injury and burnout. By developing different movement patterns we can keep hockey fresh and the body away from repetitive stress.
Hockey is a sport unlike any other. The movements involved are very specific. It is really helpful to get away from these movements for a while and work on other ones to enhance your athleticism.
Try to use the summer for more dry land training than on the ice.
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4. Ease Back into Conditioning
Conditioning is one of the best examples of doing too much too soon. I just recommended getting off the ice this summer. Well, one concern with dry land training is that it is so different from hockey. The exact reason you should do it, is the exact reason you need to ease back into it.
Running can be an issue for hockey players. The hockey stride does not ask a whole lot out of the hamstrings and groin. This makes those muscles underdeveloped. Running asks a lot of those muscles.
Trying to go too hard too soon can result in a pull or strain. This is going to put you on the shelf for a while. These injuries are annoying. You will feel great, try to give it a go, and it will often re-aggravate. It probably needed two more weeks.
Do not be a hero on Day 1.
5. Plan to Train in the Preseason
A lot of hockey players will train all summer and then stop when preseason or half-season teams start up. This is an awful idea.
When training stops most qualities will diminish in about 30 days.
The best strategy is to continue training until the schedule becomes too crazy to accommodate it. Even then, once-per-week training will help maintain training qualities. Do not train for the summer and think it is going to take you all the way to March. Have a preseason and in-season plan.
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