Q: I am concerned about my 14U Hockey player recent rapid physical growth. Along with his sudden growth spurt, he has a demanding schedule with hockey and school. He is at the rink late at night and up early for school the next morning. Do you have any suggestions to help my son maintain his physical health and recovery at this time of his life?
A: This is a great question because this time when athletes need to start paying attention to the changes in their body and start taking proper steps in warm-up and cool down to help enhance their future performance.
The surge of Testosterone will bring about sudden and rapid growth to your child’s heart, lungs, bones (which effects tendons), ligaments and muscles. Often times, the skeletal system will grow at an accelerated rate than the muscular or soft tissue system. There will be an increased need to introduce flexibility as a means of preparation and recovery.
Knowing that your athlete has a different body, different warm up and cool downs are now required. Be sure that your athlete has a strong warm-up routine before hitting the ice (both practice and games). Good stretches, foam rollers and dynamic warm ups will help the body prepare for practice.
Just as important as the warm-up is the cool-down. We strongly recommend that 14U athletes conduct a proper cool-down routine after each practice or game. Again, proper stretching technique, foam rollers and dynamic cool downs will help repair your athlete’s body and accelerate the recovery process.
Aside from physical warm-up and cool-down workouts, be sure that your athlete properly rehydrates and re-nourishes the body after practice and games. Water is a highly recommended after workouts. Simple proteins such as nuts, peanut butter and jelly or chocolate milk will replenish the body and help in recovery.
As your athlete returns home, good hygiene such as a shower is important for overall health and a sense of calmness. At this time, turn off your phone 30 minutes prior to jumping into bed and shut the lights off.
Hopefully your player has good time management skills and understands the importance of getting homework done before the late night hockey practice.
If your player follows this advice, they should spring out of bed, get a good breakfast and be ready for the demands of school and hockey bring for that day.
Joe Bonnett has more than 20 years of hockey coaching experience, including 18 seasons at the NCAA Division I level. Before entering the college ranks, he was a 12U and 16U coach in Michigan.
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