Covid-19 has taken a drastic impact on how we live our lives these days and hockey is no different in that respect. While some teams are unable to have a season this year, others have been allowed to play in leagues as well as travel tournaments. It is safe to say this year will also bring a difference when it comes to a hockey players’ development.
While some girls will have had a full season of hockey skill growth, others will remain stuck or possibly worsen from their level since March 2020. For the girls that would like to return next season, if they move up a level, they might end up behind. It’s a tough, messy situation that won’t just affect girls’ hockey, but all youth sports.
I have been lucky enough to have a team this season at the U-12 level. We could not and have not played any games, but we have been able to hold practices usually bi-weekly, though we haven’t touched the ice since before Thanksgiving. Even with these limited practices though, I can see the improvement in these girls from the beginning of the season to now. As lucky as my team has been to hold practices, that is not the only reason these girls have improved.
If you’re a coach or a player there are other options to try and come back next season with improvement. My team hosts a virtual dry land session every other week, where we include workouts that can easily be done at home; so all you need is athletic attire and a yoga mat. YouTube or Instagram can also be options to find hockey-specific workouts because a lot of athletic trainers cater to hockey athletes now. For U-14 and under I would recommend using bodyweight over real weights.
Off-ice Training Options
Another option to stay in hockey shape is stick handling. Just like with at-home workouts, there are plenty of YouTube videos where you can find stick handling exercises. All you will need is your hockey stick and some type of ball (i.e. golf ball) or the green biscuit. I’d recommend wearing your gloves to make an easy off-ice to on-ice transition, as well as avoiding some nasty blisters on your hands. This can be done in the garage or inside the house watching tv— only if the parents approve— possibly on top of a long piece of cardboard.
Lastly, if you’re really lucky, and you have a pair of rollerblades use them! Practice stickhandling outside while moving, or take some shots at a fence. Now that the weather is getting cold you could even try skating on a pond.
Even going over some games you played with your coach and studying what you did right or wrong would be beneficial. If you don’t have your own games to review, watch some professionals, study how your position is played. It’s as easy as sitting in a chair and taking some notes.
Covid-19 is absolutely a setback for any athlete but this is also a time to get creative. If you are passionate enough to take even ten minutes out of your day a few times a week, you will see improvement when you can finally get back on the ice. It is up to you if want to come back next season stronger than when you unexpectedly left it.