Why You Should Play Other Sports Other than Hockey

As a long time hockey coach and off-ice stickhandling & shooting specialist, I’ve had the privilege to train some of the best hockey players to come out of Minnesota.  Most, if not all of those players were multi-sport athletes up until a certain point of their youth career.

There have been a number of studies conducted over the years, showing the long-term benefits of playing more than one sport.  USA Hockey has the ADM model and for Canada, it’s called the Long Term Player Development model.  Both are packed full of some very interesting information on skill acquisition in hockey and the different progressions.

Sports are classified in 2 categories, early or late specialization.  For women, an example of an early specialization sport is gymnastics.  My wife was a former elite level gymnast and her peek was around 13-16 years old, so she started to specialize well before she was a teenager.  Hockey is different, as it’s a sport where players don’t achieve their full potential until after they have grown into their adult body or fully matured.

Knowing this information is helpful while trying to navigate up the hockey ladder. But there will come a time when you’ll be challenged on what to do next for your young hockey hopeful.  If they are good early, elite spring & summer team coaches will start calling and this can occur as early as 6-7 years old.  

Now, in addition to the winter season, players are now regularly on the ice practicing, playing games and going to tournaments from April – September.  Parents and players get sucked into thinking that if they don’t continue this year round schedule; they’re not going to keep pace with their peers.

Having 2 boys go through the process, I was one of those coaches, recruiting players at a young age.  Though they never played another organized sport after 9 years old besides hockey, I still consider my kids multi-sport athletes.  

We have a cabin and every summer, they had to take 2 months off from being on the ice.  They could do off-ice stickhandling and shooting, but no skating.  Every weekend for those 2 months we are at our cabin.  It’s a continuous rotation of wake boarding, wake surfing, being on a trampoline, swimming, basketball, soccer, yard games and of course, laying around doing nothing.

Though you should try other sports, don’t think you need to play something else for the sake of saying you are a multi-sport athlete.  If hockey is your true passion then go after it.  But know that acquiring additional skills not connected with hockey is a big part of the over all process and your success.

Learning how to juggle with 3 balls for your hand eye coordination, or juggling a soccer ball with your feet are two examples of ways to make new brain connections.  A lot of the Europeans I played with occupy a lot of the off-season playing tennis and golf.   Try to expose yourself to many different learning opportunities as possible.  It’s on your time and the best part is that you get to make the rules, so you don’t have a coach controlling your learning.

Thanks for stopping by and Remember to Work Hard and Dream Bigger than Everyone Else!!

January 12, 2018 — Jason S

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