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Making a Splash in Development

06/01/2016, 9:30am MDT
By Michael Rand - Special to USA Hockey

With the 2016 Olympic Summer Games straight ahead, swimming will no doubt be one of the sports in the spotlight.

But how, you may be wondering, does swimming related to 8U hockey?

Full-Body Workout and Development

Anyone who has been on the ice knows hockey is an intense workout. That said, swimming is a different type of exercise, on unfrozen water, and one that can provide all-around benefits to developing hockey players.

“The first thing that comes to mind about the benefits of swimming is that it’s a full-body sport,” Avischious says. “You’re definitely using some different muscle groups than what you’d be using in hockey and also doing aerobics work.”

Being in a pool instead of on the ice also makes you think differently, he added – aiding in brain development and body awareness.

“It’s a lifelong skill,” Avischious says. “Just like gymnastics is good for body awareness, swimming is the same way.”

Good Complement

Particularly at the 8U age level, where kids are A) still a long way from fully developed athletically and B) trying to figure out what sports they really like, swimming is a good complement to a lot of different activities.

“Especially at the younger ages, we have a lot of athletes involved in multiple sports,” Avischious says. “We encourage kids to try different sports.”

Teaching Dedication

USA Swimming touts the dedication it requires to excel at swimming. Learning to become an OK swimmer is one thing. Learning to be competitive and fluid in the pool requires countless repetitions that help a young child see the benefits of practice and perseverance – lessons that transcend swimming and go into other sports as well as life in general.

“A lot of it is all about proper technique, which is one of the core messages of the American Development Model in hockey,” Avischious says. “We want kids to learn proper technique so they can build on it as they get older. A lot of clubs also emphasize general conditioning.”

Safety

This is a secondary benefit, but it’s important nonetheless: having a child who is a good swimmer can take some of the worry out of water activities.

“It’s one of those rare sports you can die from if you don’t know how to do it,” Avischious says. “Just from a safety standpoint, it makes sense (for kids to have swimming lessons). Whether kids are in lakes or pools, it’s obviously a really good thing for a parent to make sure they’re safe.”

Social and Accessible

In a swimming pool, nobody sits on the bench – everyone competes, learning life lessons and making friends along the way. USA Swimming likes to tout the fact that most people live within 15 minutes of a pool, making it a convenient way for your child to experience something great for their development.

So if you’re looking to integrate some fun and fitness into your 8U hockey player’s summer, swimming might be a perfect fit.

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