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10U: Offseason development strategies

04/21/2024, 9:00am MDT
By Roger Grillo, USA Hockey ADM Regional Manager

Q: How do I ensure that my 10U hockey player continues to develop during the offseason?

A: If I was to average out all of the time I spent on some type of ice during the early years of my hockey life, it would probably average out to an hour a day for 365 days a year. Having said that, 90 percent of that time was in a free-play setting on the backyard rink my father built for me and my siblings, or on the local pond, the outdoor rink in my neighborhood, or public skating at the local indoor rink.

As a result, I have absolutely no issue with some spring or summer ice for younger players, as long as it looks nothing like their winter-season ice time.

Playing on an organized team and traveling around playing games or tournaments with officials on the ice is not the way to go. Instead, some type of unorganized open hockey or a cross-ice or half-ice 3v3 or 4v4 league is ideal, in complement to some other sport or athletic activity.

Above all, the offseason should be used to play other sports, meet other kids, experience other coaches and use different muscle groups to continue developing as an all-around athlete. It’s an important time to take a mental break from hockey, too. I always remind parents that passion is the most important ingredient in an athlete’s development, so making wise choices in terms of patience and burnout avoidance during the offseason is critical to reigniting that passion and putting your youngster in the best position to succeed in the fall.

The author, Roger Grillo, has coached for more than 20 years at the high school and college levels. He spent 12 seasons as the head coach at Brown University and was a Spencer Penrose National Coach of the Year finalist in 1997-98.

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