Although the start of the NHL season is still a few weeks away, the regular season is now fully underway for young hockey players across North America. Training camps are over, pre-season tournaments are finished and regular routine of practices and games has set in.
Now is also the time for coaches, parents and players to think about how they're going to prepare themselves for the play run – not to mention for all those regular season games between now and then.
Players and teams always come out of the gates flying in September, full of energy and enthusiasm. But by the time the playoffs roll around, the regular season grind has taken its toll, leaving players tired, injured and performing below their full potential. It's those players and teams who take a pro-active approach to staying in the best shape possible through the season that are going to be leading the league come play time.
Here are 5 tips for coaches, parents and players looking to have their best hockey season ever:
1) Put your player development plan together – In order to have your best season ever, you need to have a plan. Your off-ice player development plans should be as complete as your on-ice skill and strategy sessions if you are going to get to the next level.
2) Always warm-up – Many players and teams are starting to warm-up off the ice in order to prepare themselves to head out on the ice. Even doing some simple jogging, jumping jacks and lunges will ensure that players hit the ice at full speed.
3) Start a speed and strength training program – The game of hockey is all about speed and every player will benefit from getting faster and quicker. Building strength in the muscles that power hockey-specific movements will not only allow you to dominate the battles in the corner, but will help to protect you from injury.
4) Put the best fuel possible in your tank – Post-game drive-through visits and rink snack-bars raids are common for young players – but making the wrong choice can have devastating effects on their performance. Bringing healthy snacks and meals with you to games and tournaments will help you to avoid these "nutritional wastelands".
5) Get plenty of R & R – To play your best day after day, you must recover and rest. Make sure that you are doing a cool-down jog after you get off the ice, stretching your tight hockey muscles, refueling and rehydrating, and getting at least 8 hours of sleep.
The start of the season may be just around the corner, but it's never too early to start thinking about how to get yourself ready for the play run. By putting a proper player development plan in place, you can start get started on having your best hockey season ever.