One of the cliches that I continue to hear during this Covid-19 pandemic is “we are living in crazy times.” True enough, but I wanted to discuss the tremendous opportunities this spring and summer present to players. This by no means is neglecting the seriousness on multiple levels of this troubling situation. Being socially disconnected, unemployment, and young athletes having anxiety about their hockey futures that they have worked so hard for… is forcing a lot of stress on them. With video breakdown and technology in the development side of the game being better than ever, there is a plethora of resources on that front to become more educated in the game sense & skill department. The Coaches Site, for instance, being a prime example.
No expert in the world worth his or her salt can say that being couped up in your home for an extended time period like this, is good for anybody’s mental health. I personally find it ironic how much light has been shone on mental health of athletes of any age, yet during a pandemic, I hardly see anything about it. I can not stress the importance of staying active and doing your best to get outside and enjoy some exercise. More specifically, why not make that hockey-specific? Why not become a better, more rounded athlete from it? How many players out there do you think have been sacrificing their time and free-ticket to doing nothing, to continue improving their physical conditioning and hockey-specific movements & strength? Here is the brutal truth. Once next season does begin, and training camp arrives… whenever that may be… the coach of the team you are hoping to make is not going to give you a second chance because you couldn’t train this summer. The try-out process is going to be more compressed than ever, and player turn-over will be rapid. As with any try-out, this upcoming fall especially, you CAN NOT afford a day or two to get back into things. “Rust”, game timing, etc…. sure. Everyone will deal with that due to a lack of ice. However, you will get to be on the ice in a prep camp, or on your own time, whatever that may be, prior to try-outs. With that being said… if you decided to take advantage of the pandemic over the last bit and continue to from this point forward, and thought that kicking back was a good idea… you won’t catch up in time come try-outs. You can justify it any way by saying the coach “screwed you over” as I hear so many times, but at the end of the day… everything is a reflection of choices you made. Make your “controllables” better than your competitions. Don’t give them a reason to cut you.
Can you still have a dialled-in diet? Absolutely. Can you educate yourself on the game by reviewing your own film or pro film? Absolutely. Can you still work on your physical fitness and improving hockey-specific strength and power? Absolutely. One of the words that pops in my mind is perception. How do you view this time frame? Shift your mind set to see it as an opportunity to get ahead of everybody else. Let them make the excuses. Nobody was ever remembered by the great excuses they had, nor does anybody follow the crowd to success. Look what you have to GAIN, and not what you have to LOSE. Nobody can forecast exact details of the future, but without a doubt… you are much better off to be prepared in tip-top shape rather than being late to the party. Maintain all of the hard work you have put in, and the money your parents have invested in over the last how many years.
I am a strong proponent of multi-sport athletes, especially during minor hockey. This is a fantastic time to take part in various activities, with many benefits. Get outside and throw a football around with a sibling. Have a game of soccer. Go for a bike ride with a buddy! All terrific ideas. Get your mind off of mentally-draining thoughts, and fulfill your time training some other motor patterns and skills. I promise you, you’ll enjoy it! On top of this, you can still become a better hockey player through so many training ideas. Squat jumps, lunges, plyometrics, split squats, hill work, sprints, and yes players- STRETCHING (no better time to improve your range of motion and fix tight hips)… all require zero gym equipment. If you have dumbbells or a bowflex machine… bonus! Not to also mention shooting pucks in the garage or driveway, and working on your stick-handling skills with a ball. If you have questions or would like some help setting up an off-ice program you could complete on your own at the hill, track, or just at home… feel free to contact us at CrossIce Developments and either myself or another staff member will be more than happy to provide some assistance! If nothing else, you will maintain your strength, but if done properly, will improve your power, speed/agility/quickness, and cardio.
Lots of family budgets are tight during Covid-19. The cure has had, and continues to have just as many, and likely more devastating effects as the virus itself. Incorporating some of the training ideas above will not cost you a single dollar, and will allow you to improve so many areas of your physical conditioning to make you a better hockey player and overall athlete. It is important to stay grateful for what you have. Utilize the tools and resources you have, and perhaps ask a family member to assist you in your training. It is a great way to potentially keep them active and engaged in an activity as well! On that note, I encourage you all to stay in contact with your friends and relatives. Remember, they have been there to support you throughout your journey, and when it is all said and done, family is the most precious thing we have in life. You are a very important piece in your family’s lives. Spend time with family, and be there for them because they are facing a lot of adversity as well.
This was not a matter of stating my personal opinion or try to push my beliefs on anybody. Everybody is entitled to their opinions. The truth is these are the facts, and ones that I do not want any young players to encounter as surprises. If you fail to plan you are planning to fail. Covid-19 has not eroded your dream forever. Remember why you started, and also remember why you want to ultimately achieve your goal. If you want it bad enough, you will discover solutions. The opportunity for you to leap-frog your competition and gain ground can not be stated enough. Leaders inspire others, so instead of throwing our hands in the air, let’s inspire family members and friends to get active, and get in as much training as you can. When decisions are made in the fall, the ones that will walk away with a spot on that team will be the individuals that found a way. The mission remains the same: get better every day.
Chance Szott, Owner/Founder- CrossIce Developments