How to Plan Your Summer Hockey Activities

I am often asked what a player should do to make the most of his or her off season. This can be a tough question, because the answer usually varies from player to player. However, despite the many possible “correct answers,” there are five main objectives that I think should be staples for any player looking to improve this summer––regardless of age or skill-level:
  1. Improve physical performance: The off-season is the time to develop your speed, strength, and size. During the summer months, this should be the primary focus for serious hockey players. Enormous gains can be made by consistently working out in a structured, hockey-specific, strength and conditioning program.
  2. Improve technical hockey skills (on-ice): Hockey players should take the time to develop and fine-tune the technical elements of their game that have been neglected during the hectic playoff push. I recommend getting into a hockey camp that is highly focused on technical skating, puck-handling, passing, and shooting. A slightly laid-back atmosphere is good, as long as proper technique is insisted upon. Remember, the objective of this type of training isn’t to “whip” you into shape, but to correct and reinforce proper form and technique.
  3. Improve technical hockey skills (off-ice): There are a number of skills that can also be developed away from the rink such as stickhandling and shooting. Set up an obstacle course to stickhandle through, and put together a shooting gallery in your backyard and work on your shot back there. You can get hundreds of extra development hours in this way, and its FREE (aside from the initial set up costs).
  4. Develop and maintain general athleticism: Keep your athleticism up by playing different sports in the summer. Generally speaking, the best athletes are also the best hockey players. Developing different types of motor skills and coordination by participating in other sports will help improve your hockey game by improving your overall athleticism.
  5. Stay “game fresh”: Find a way to work in some game time every week or two during the summer. This can be via pick-up hockey, summer league, or the odd tournament over the summer. Make sure it’s a light-hearted environment, and won’t be mentally over-taxing. The objective here is just to stay sharp, and reinforce some of the technical work you’ve been developing as we mentioned in step two. You’ll have plenty of time for high-intensity hockey once the regular season rolls around. Don’t burn yourself out on recreational summer hockey.
So that’s it! Remember, these tips are general recommendations, you’ll need to modify them to fit your own specific needs and schedule. However, planning your summer using these five basic guidelines should help you to have a very productive off-season, and to arrive at training camp primed, well-rested, and ready to have a phenomenal season!