When my middle son was learning the sport of hockey at the young age of 5, we knew instantly that he was hooked….He took to it like a dog takes to water…..! So from September to April, Rep Hockey was our life. We also had two other boys playing Rec hockey, baseball and soccer and a daughter who played soccer and danced competitively so the word “busy” was an understatement in our family. So fast forward to the end of hockey season and for the first time I felt like I could take a deep long breath but oh no….not so…..we had to register for 3×3 Hockey and then several hockey camps which then took us back to Hockey registration in September. IT NEVER STOPPED! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED being a hockey mom…watching your child evolve from falling down and tripping, chasing the puck in a pack to understanding their position and the strategy of the game and improving every year they played…and WANTING SO DESPERATELY to live the dream and play in the NHL! But when do you say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?!
There seems to have been a lot of debate in recent years over young players getting involved in summer hockey. Gone are the days of putting your skates away after the season ends and picking them up again in September. That being the case, for players at all levels of the game, hockey is becoming more a 12-month project. Summer leagues, camps and unofficial scrimmages have the highly motivated, the extremely focused and the parent-driven youngsters looking for more hockey.
Wayne Gretzky told the National Post in 2000: “When I was growing up, I used to love spring…. I could put my hockey equipment away and get my lacrosse stick out and start throwing the ball around. All the good hockey players seemed to play lacrosse … and everyone learned by mixing up games they played when they were young.”
Besides lacrosse Gretzky excelled at baseball. Other NHL greats who played lacrosse include John Tavares, Brendan Shanahan, Steve Stamkos, Paul Coffey, Joe Sakic, Gary Roberts and Adam Foote. Locally a number of hockey players played lacrosse including the Evans brothers (Paul, Doug and Kevin), Larry Floyd and Steve Larmer. Even Chris Pronger and Tie Domi played high school lacrosse when here with the Petes. Other NHLers left their hockey sticks in the garage and played soccer, baseball, tennis and other aerobic sports. The point being made by those that push other sports to complement hockey is the game does demand 12 months of activity but not necessarily hockey.
Listed below are some wins and challenges that can occur if your child plays hockey throughout the summer.
VARIETY….You get to play with and against many different teams and players. Summer tournaments have fewer administrative rules. Every weekend is new. During the course of a “winter team”, there are budgets, line combinations, schedules, fundraising, politics, standings and stats that drag on all year. During the summer, if you have a bad game or weekend, you can press the reset button and start all over again. Issues tend not to carry on the following week.
HAVING FUN….kids do need to be kids! While still taking the game seriously, some of the best times kids have are when they are jumping in and out of the hotel pool and having fun outdoors between games and let’s face it, parents do as well.
GOOD HOCKEY….Some of the best teams my son played against were during the summer.
GAMEPLAY…..As a player plays more games, he will undoubtedly be put into more pressure situations on the ice. Finding ways to compete and win under a variety of circumstances can help players when developing “hockey sense”. Some players even get to play a different position. My son usually played left forward but had the opportunity to play center and defense during summer hockey.
COSTS: Hockey is already mega expensive as we all know. Registration and increasing travel fees can put un-do stress on a family in the summer when vacation is a priority as well.
ORGANIZATION: Summer tournaments (and teams) have become a big business. Unfortunately, sometimes they can be run inefficiently as they try to bring in money instead of improving the experience for players and families.
BURNOUT: Players can be drained physically and mentally after a long year of winter hockey so we need to always be aware of this. They might improve in the summer but strain can sometimes have damaging effects. Sometimes it’s better to focus your child’s energy elsewhere. Put them in something new like tennis or swimming classes. The reality is that being proficient at multiple sports is ultimately good for hockey skills as well, not to mention the positive effect on a young mind.
BALANCE: Every child is different and finding the right balance for your son or daughter should be prioritized. You are putting them into a position to succeed which can definitely be beneficial for them through some summer training but make sure you ask them first instead of just simply enrolling them into a program.
Summer Hockey Camps
Whether or not you have the next Crosby or McDavid in your home, if you want to help your child develop his or her interest in the sport further, a hockey camp can fully immerse your child in the sport and help them learn or enhance their expertise.
BUT WHY ATTEND A HOCKEY CAMP? Since there isn’t a camp that can guarantee that your child will become a pro, hockey programs are designed to ensure that they will be exposed to the benefits and opportunities whether they are in a day or overnight camp. These specific types of camps will strengthen skills like skating, stickhandling, passing, shooting and goaltending and will allow your child to play alongside other kids who have the same love of the game.
So what is a parent to do?
First the motivation of the child must be considered. Regardless of how good the player is, if he/she has the attitude Wayne Gretzky did and can’t wait to move from hockey to one of a few summer activities, then GO FOR IT. On the other hand, if they want low-keyed summer hockey and the occasional summer hockey camp, and it’s financially viable, then you should definitely enroll them.
Just remember hockey is a demanding sport! Those that have the skill level, motivation and physical attributes to move forward in it, need some serious direction on off-season activities. And for those who like the game but see it as just a winter sport complemented with a variety of summer sports, let him/her enjoy the summer. It’s definitely something to think about but it really comes down to what is right for your family and more importantly for your child. I knew how important it was for my son to play all year round…he was and still is in LOVE with the game, so we didn’t deny him the opportunity to play all year long. But for some folks, it can be financially challenging especially when they’re already investing in “regular” hockey season.
Remember other options are available to help your child develop their particular skills. Click here to see how the Sportscreen can help with their target shooting! Take a look at the multi-targets we offer to help improve target shooting in other sports. And lastly remember if summer hockey or camp isn’t an option for you or your child, the Sportscreen can definitely help to improve their skills, build self-confidence and provide outdoor fun for the entire family!
Source: The Hockey News.com