Parents often ask me, “Should my kid play hockey all year long?”
Usually, my answer is no, because most people get burned out without a break. The last thing you want to do is turn a sport an athlete is passionate about into a chore.
Although off-ice training is still important for hockey players, playing another sport in the off-season can help break the monotony and keep things fun.
Lacrosse is a good complement to hockey. The games are similar in structure and rules, yet the seasons come at different times of the year.
A player who has trouble speeding up on skates can improve his footwork on the lacrosse field. In addition, improving agility through lateral movement and stop-and-go “jukes” can help a hockey player enhance his hand-eye and hand-foot coordination.
Lacrosse is a heads-up game, just like hockey. If you have trouble carrying the puck with your head up, carrying the ball above your head in lacrosse can help you become a more relaxed, patient and calculating puck carrier.
In the off-season, hockey players may need to focus on increasing their cardiovascular stamina to reduce recovery time and maintain peak performance in the third period. Lacrosse can help develop stamina, because players run, jog and sprint for longer stretches than do hockey players. Many professional hockey players only log about 10 to 12 minutes of ice time in a game. Some lacrosse athletes play the entire game with no significant break.