Imagine being a kid again.
The summers in the lower mainland, the swimming pools, the grass, the parks - picture yourself enjoying everything summer has to offer in British Columbia...
Now picture yourself stuck inside doing powerskating lessons, a conditioning camp and wrapping up with an intense spring hockey practice.
It's sort of a bleak picture, isn't it?
"But it's all necessary, I don't want my son to get left behind."
This sentiment is really difficult to hear. In a hockey-crazed market filled with young players desperate to take their game to the next level, we're all blinded by the fact that once the enjoyment is sucked out of the game, it becomes a career.
Unfortunately, we've been programmed to believe everything we're told about the importance of hockey training in the spring and summer months.
Here are 3 myths you need to ignore this summer.
Hockey players are told time and again to take time off once the season is done, but it's true that some players just don't want to.
They want to be on the ice.
...At least that's the line parents are lead to believe.
As a parent, it's your responsibility to put your child in a position poised for success. Hammering away at camp after camp isn't just a waste of energy, it's a waste of money.
Focus your child's energy elsewhere. Try something new, like tennis classes. Sign them up for swimming lessons.
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.
Minor hockey in Vancouver is intense, competitive and structured so as many players as possible participate in meaningful games.
This is the hockey that truly matters. Winter hockey is why we play hockey.
Spring hockey has come along in the last couple decades, and what started as an elite stream of players organized to compete in a couple tournaments has evolved into a multi-million dollar industry that would rival the National Hockey League in terms of recruitment, coaching salaries and politics.
Furthermore, spring hockey has nearly eclipsed winter hockey when it comes to tryouts. Coaches sell spring programs as a means to put yourself in good standing with a coach when tryouts roll around in September.
Think for a second, if a coach is basing a winter hockey team on hockey played in May, June and July, is that a coach you really want to play for anyway?
Find a spring program that puts emhpasis on practicing (without going overboard), skill development and fun.
This is a tricky one.
Do you know your son or daughter better than anyone else?
Do you know your son or daughter better than they know themselves?
Regardless of your child's age, you're not the one being asked to train in the summer months. Sure, it's easier to ask your 14 year-old son a month before the WHL Bantam Draft if he wants to start an off-ice work-out program, but it's equally easy to ask your seven year-old if they want to keep playing hockey once the season is done.
Try it. See what they say.
You may have to explain the benefits of a couple weekly practices (fun) or give them a taste of a summer hockey camp to see if they like it, but the principle is the same.
Simple: talk to your child. Hockey is their game, so let's teach our children how to take responsibility for their own path.
There's a balance to find for every child.
There are too many high-pace, positive and enjoyable spring and summer hockey programs in Western Canada to count. The best ones combine the thrill and power of our game with an organized, experienced approach to hockey training.
Hockey players put in a position to succeed with the proper amount of training will experience all the benefits of a hard-working summer without even realizing it.
So what are you up to this summer?