There’s A Reason It’s Called The Offseason, Kids Need To Do Other Things

Athletes Fuel Chatham

Athletes training at Athlete Fuel in Chatham – Contributed Photo

It’s that time of year when those overly intense hockey parents begin making wild decisions.

One of the more common mistakes, is keeping their kids in hockey year round. Most experts would agree premature sport specialization, and not allowing youth to train and play other sports in the offseason is a disaster waiting to happen.

Local experts agree.

“The two most common mistakes today’s athletes make are specializing in only one sport at a young age and playing that year-round,” says Colin Roeszler, owner and trainer at Athletes Fuel Strength and Conditioning.

“This is particularly predominant I think in hockey players. These two trends in development have led to an epidemic of burnout and injuries that are in fact easily prevented,” he continued. Both early specialization and year-round playing accelerate the rate at which athletes develop overuse or under-recovery injuries.”

Bob Vandersluis, owner and trainer at Peak Athletic Training in Chatham echoed Roeszler’s thoughts, especially when looking at short term versus long term development and return.

He believes young athletes looking to develop in the long term, need to play a variety of sports.

“Long term athletic development models should include a variety of sports,” said Vandersluis.

“Unstructured sports would be a great supplement to a long structured season, but young athletes today are not as apt to pick up a game of road hockey or sandlot baseball, as in generations past.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, athletes are often participating in structured sports and skills camps as a result.”

Does this mean youth can’t be working on skills? Absolutely not. But it does, according to both coaches, mean that hockey players and athletes in general should be training their entire body, and taking a break to enjoy other sports, and focus on getting stronger.

“Get off the ice after the season for a few months, devote your off-season to getting stronger, faster, more powerful, and let your body and mind unwind,” said Roeszler, who works with many of the areas top professional, college, and Junior hockey players at Athletes Fuel.

So what should young athletes do?

Play other sports, until a later age, typically in their mid-teens, when specialization becomes important.

And train.

“Resistance training is another way to develop strength, endurance, and improve athletic performance in the off-season, if athletes are only interested in a specific sport,” said Vandersluis. “A well designed program will have the athlete in mind, and not just the sport. This means that the program should work to create balance with all of the specific demands and movements of the sport, and not replicate it.”

“I don’t think you can ever be fast enough or strong enough,” said Roeszler, who also runs the annual Athletes Fuel Cup in the offseason about the importance of a well balanced training program.

When it comes down to it, parents who push year round participation do so for a few reasons. Likely because their child loves the sport, but also, because they don’t want to miss being “spotted” by scouts and recruiters.

As Roeszler says however, even these individuals take time off in the summer, and if you want to move to the next level, the offseason needs to be spent getting stronger and faster.

And more importantly, your play on the ice will bring the scouts out in season, if you’re talented enough.

“If you are good enough, they will find you no matter where you play,” said Roeszler.

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