Q: My child is finishing the 14U hockey season and I’m getting many varied opinions on what should be done to become a better hockey player in the offseason. Can you offer any sound advice for a confused parent to follow?
A: While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are some points of emphasis at this age level that I hope will help give you and your child direction. Here are the certainties:
The main objective of any hockey player from age 13 and beyond is to continue developing their hockey-specific skills and properly preparing for the competitive environment. This means a continued focus on improving one’s technical skills. During the offseason, technical skill improvement can be trained either on the ice or off the ice, but it’s at these ages when a player must learn to work on their deficiencies as well as continuing to improve their strengths. Keep this point in mind as your teenager enters this off-season and future offseasons. In addition, players at these ages should be emphasizing the development of their physical attributes. This is especially true in the offseason, when players can make measurable improvements in endurance, speed and strength.
Although it’s not necessary to train and compete on the ice for more than nine months of the year at these ages, it’s very important for players to continue an appropriate off-ice training regimen during the offseason. The physical development of players between the ages of 13 and 16 can typically be addressed with twice-weekly strength-training sessions and 2-3 times per week speed-training sessions, but players at this age should seek guidance from qualified strength and conditioning coaches who can map out a specific, personalized plan to address their individual needs and address any physical deficiencies.
For more information on offseason training priorities, click here for a Q-and-A with Scott Caulfield, coaching education manager and head strength coach at the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
The author, Bob Mancini, is a longtime hockey coach and player-development expert. His experience includes two seasons in the NHL as an Edmonton Oilers development coach and more than a decade as a head coach in the NCAA Division I and OHL ranks.
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