Our in season team training provides an energetic atmosphere of hard work, dedication, commitment to success, health, injury prevention and certainly strength and conditioning gains. Our athletes physiological and chronological age level will directly influence what area of development we will be focusing on.
For our youngest athletes, we are in a discovery of movement stage that allows them to have fun while learning basic movements that will transfer over to athletic development. Most often this will include games and races that incorporate, quick changes of direction, balance and coordination.
As our athletes’ bodies begin to mature we are still introducing the foundation of proper movement, body control and awareness. We will also begin to introduce the fundamentals of strength creatively. Finally, we teach our athletes the why, how and importance of training, with emphasis on our expectations for growth and development as a hockey player.
At this age level, the most important quality of their development is that they have fun. We want to provide a positive, energetic environment where these young athletes do not have adult values applied to their game. We are not concerned with outcome based development here, but more importantly that they have fun and truly enjoy using their bodies. This is referred to by the IYCA as “Guided Discovery” and “Learning Exploration.”
Over the 30 week season, we will be asking our athletes to hop, skip, crawl and roll in a variety of games and activities, so they can become more aware of how their young bodies work and more importantly coordinate into athletic looking movements. Again, this will not look like traditional sports training or even strength training. We will see them implementing a variety of mirroring drills, coordination and rhythmic activities and starting to learn how to manipulate objects with their hands and feet.
As our athletes enter or continue to compete at the Bantam age level, it is paramount that we still not apply adult values to a sport. Wins and losses should not be the focal point, but more importantly DEVELOPMENT. I know this is an age where they are taking on more responsibility and their bodies are changing but with that, they are still adolescents.
They need plenty of structure and discipline, but at the same time, they are just learning how to apply all of the skills they have been working on during their athletic endeavors. At this stage, hard work, team work, supporting and helping each other in a positive and fun way, are still have the utmost importance. Here we will begin to introduce the fundamentals of acceleration, movement and strength. The ways, in which these will be implemented, may still not seem as traditional weight lifting. So much of what we are trying to teach, is how and why we are performing certain movements.
Many of the athletes are well into developing physically, while some have not started in the least. These realities need to be addressed in a fair and safe environment, which will encourage our athletes to continue to train even after their sport career. This will involve body weight movements like squat variations, push up variations and a variety of pulling implements that are not designed to wear down these young athletes, but encourage them to be active for a lifetime.
At the Midget age level, the training is beginning to take a more traditional look to the strength movements while focusing on injury prevention as well as performance enhancement. We are continuing to implement basic strength movement, and players will become savagely proficient in the fundamental movement patterns like dead lifts, squats, push-ups, pull-ups and planks. When it comes to acceleration, we will be implementing med ball, Olympic lifts and plyometrics.
In this age group, almost all of the players are well into developing physically. These realities need to be addressed in a fair and safe environment, which will encourage our athletes to continue to train even after their sport career. This will involve body weight movements like squat variations, push up variations and a variety of pulling implements that are not designed to wear down athletes, but encourage them to be active for a lifetime.