Q: What should my child be doing in July to prepare for the upcoming hockey season?
A: During the summer, your 10U hockey player should be experiencing other sports to get ready for the hockey season. Being an athlete first and playing a variety of sports at this age will pay huge dividends down the road in his or her hockey-playing career. The benefits are many. Refining motor skills, balance, agility, coordination, and spatial awareness are merely some of the traits that can be greatly enhanced by playing other sports. Playing invasion sports (in which one must attack or defend a goal) is particularly good for improving spatial awareness, which translates into improved hockey sense in our game. Three great examples of invasion sports are basketball, soccer and lacrosse. In those sports, just like hockey, you must figure out technical and tactical means to defend your goal and attack the opponents' goal. Abby Wambach of the World Cup-winning U.S. Women’s National soccer team credits much of her soccer success to playing basketball her whole life. She says that reading rebounds and angles of the ball off the rim is what made her an exceptional header of the ball in soccer.
Another benefit of playing multiple sports is a reduction in the risk of overuse injuries. When young children only play one sport and use the same muscles over and over again, they become very susceptible to injury. Playing multiple sports allows them to use other muscles and makes their growing bodies stronger.
So in a nutshell, don’t worry about playing hockey year-round. Not playing summer hockey will not make your 10-year-old fall behind. In fact, it’ll likely provide a long-term advantage.
The author, Kenny Rausch, began his coaching career in 1996 with Boston University, his alma mater. As a player, he earned Beanpot Tournament MVP honors and was named a Hockey East Distinguished Scholar.