Think about the most common questions you ask about hockey once the season is done.
Every hockey family would answer these questions differently. It’s naive of coaches or hockey organizations to think that only one stock answer would suit everybody.
Above all else, individual hockey players need to understand how their system works. Some players play better when they have a vigorous workout the morning of a game. Some players perform with more energy when they have an afternoon nap - the opposite is also true.
Now, younger hockey players in atom and peewee probably aren’t completely aware of how their body reacts to different levels of preparation.
With that in mind, here are two arguments for and against skating right up until tryouts start.
Some players play a lower-intensity style on the ice. They let the game come to them, they make the safe play more often than taking risks, and they tend to maintain a low event game.
Coaches love this type of player because they’re predictable and trustworthy.
For this type of hockey player, physical and mental fatigue is a real factor. Skating hard the day before tryouts begin can detract from the player’s focus instead of enhancing it. This is particularly true if the player has been skating for the entire summer - coaches can tell when a player is hungry for competition, just like they can tell when a player is mentally fatigued.
For this type of player, after preparing during the summer, light activity 48 - 72 hours before starting tryouts will be beneficial. Skating every day right up until tryouts won’t be.
The type of hockey player who relies on instinct, reaction and pure intuition spends little to no time processing the game. They go out and perform based strictly on talent. These types of players generally take more risks in the search for offence.
Coaches enjoy coaching these players because this is where the goals come from.
For this type of player, skating right up until tryouts is beneficial because it reinforces the habits learned during the summer and in previous seasons. The last thing this player wants to do during the first tryout skate is think too much.
Keep skating for at least an hour each night the week prior to tryouts. The morning tryouts begin, use some open ice for a half hour to get a feel for the puck and get comfortable with how the hands and feet are responding to the ice.
Like we said, skating right up until tryouts is different for everybody, although it’s crucial for all types of players to be mentally and physically fresh and ready to go. Understanding how your body and mind function in pressure-filled situations is crucial to preparing properly.
Even though tryouts are stressful, it should still be about the experience and the lessons learned throughout the process. Being hungry for the competition is healthy and will bring out the best in every player trying out.
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