Q: What should my 12U player be doing off the ice to complement his/her game.
A: First of all, your child should be living an active, healthy, sporty lifestyle that includes multiple sports and physical activity on a daily basis. It’s a simple recipe, but it works. Promoting a daily routine that includes proper nutrition, sleep and physical activity is first and foremost in any off-ice training plan.
Studies show that kids who have daily physical fitness tend to excel in school, sports and other extracurricular activities. Furthermore, a well-balanced schedule of family, school, sport, rest and nutrition will also contribute to the athletic development of your young athlete.
Moving into what people traditionally think of as an off-ice program, functional training for today’s 12U kids should include range-of-motion, body-weight exercises and core strengthening. Remember, we build the engine from the core out.
Augment that type of training with other sports that develop balance, body control, coordination, and core strength. USA Hockey has developed off-ice training cards that promote this type of activity. You may also want to suggest that your child try other activities, such as unstructured free play, purely recreational sports, intramurals and non-sport specific physical activity (like bike-riding, tree-climbing, swimming, jumping rope, sledding, skiing, etc.).
In today's world of overstimulated children, you'll find a good healthy mix of activity, some of it unstructured, goes a long way. Remember that fun is the critical factor in development. Physically active fun will provide your player the best possible experience.
Lastly, be patient with your child’s development and reward them for working hard and dedication. The race to their full potential is a marathon, not a sprint.
The author, Guy "Goose" Gosselin, made his NHL debut with Winnipeg in 1988. He is a two-time United States Olympian and was inducted into the University of Minnesota Duluth Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.
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