Is Icetime The Answer?

Are athletes built by playing or training? Can we build a better long-term hockey player on the ice…or are we better to stay off for awhile every year?
In Fitness Through Sports?, Chris wrote about the problem of youth athletes who specialize (choose one sport over all others) too early. Research strongly advises AGAINST spending all summer on the ice. Instead, hockey players and figure skaters should take time to enjoy other sports with different neural patterns…even if their long-term goal is to play in the NHL.
We all know adults and teens who are “naturally” good at everything they try, right? But if you ask, you’ll find they did a few years in gymnastics as a kid, or earned a belt in Martial Arts, or played different sports depending on the season.
Our goal in Varsity and Junior Varsity is to elevate athleticism and balance out the dominance issues created by a long season in a single sport. It’s also a huge mental break for the kids: there’s no pressure to “make the team” or score goals, just a positive environment centred on personal accomplishment.
This summer, don’t be afraid to miss a speed skating clinic in favour of a weekend at the lake. Swing from ropes, run and jump and play. That’s what builds better athletes.