iPlayHockey is a pure hockey organization that encourages young athletes to play hockey and develop their skills. However, iPlayHockey also promotes balance within young athletes’ lives.
Hockey has turned into a year-round sport which is amazing for the growth of the game. The hockey season can be as long as eight months, and with the game growing there are many leagues and camps that run throughout the summer months. For kids 14 and under, there is lots to be learned and skills to be taught to enhance their game, but let’s not forget how important it is to take some time away from the rink. Now there is a time when the athlete needs to take hockey to the next level and focus on their development year-round, however, that is not until they are between 14-16 years old.
Veteran NHL player Gary Roberts, who now runs a training center for amateur athletes states, “My whole belief is that you play hockey all winter – it’s a physical sport. In the summertime you need to get outside, enjoy some sunshine, and get out of the hockey arena”. Summer is a time to be outside playing all kinds of sports. To avoid burnout and loss of motivation in young hockey players, allow them to explore other sports in the off-season.
Here are some reasons why pre-teens should look to discover other sports in their off-season:
- Gives time for main hockey muscles to recover after the long and physical season
- Playing hockey year-round may result in over-use injuries
- Skills from other sports carry over to hockey
- Playing a number of sports will create a well-rounded athlete
- Kids will be rejuvenated for the next season
- Builds a level of excitement and desire for the next season
- Brings balance to the child’s athletic life
Some of the best hockey players in the world are known to play more than one sport. Like Gordie Howe, he is one of the best athletes to ever play hockey, and very well could have played professional baseball if his NHL contract had allowed. Then there is Hayley Wickenheiser who competed in five Winter Olympics playing hockey, as well as one Summer Olympics playing softball. The list of dual sport athletes could go on forever.
Take it or leave it, but even NHL legend Bobby Orr states, “Kids play far too much [hockey]. I mean, kids are playing 12 months a year—little ones. They don’t need it. Play other sports. Have other coaches. Hang around other kids, other parents. I think that’s all healthy".