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A hockey player with the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Heat.

How to Avoid the Problems Associated With Overtraining

10/08/2014, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

Part 2: The secret way to improve performance immediately.

Being a young athlete means balancing sports, school and family. It’s unfortunate that family is usually the element that suffers, but it’s the reality. 

Why does family time suffer? Because we’re so busy at the rink or at the field that by the time we get home all we want to do is sleep or watch Tv or sleep more.

This is the second of the North Shore Winter Club’s 10-post collection, The Minor Hockey Player’s Guide to In-SeasonTraining, Nutrition & Wellness. Read Part 1.

The signs of overtraining are easy to spot, but it’s more difficult to act on these symptoms.

1. Rest & Recovery

We’ll talk more about nutrition later in the Minor Hockey Player’s Guide, but for now, let’s assume that you’re fuelling your child properly, and they’re still showing signs of over-training.

What then?

It might seem like a simplification, but a young hockey player needs time off. If putting minutes into hockey training is like making a deposit in the bank, then the athlete is entitled to a withdrawal from time to time. 

According to Shelley Hoodspith, rest is necessary to recharge the physical systems as well as mental. 

“Some athletes feeling the effects of overtraining feel compelled to train harder because they think they’re so out of shape, when really, just taking a few days to rest will help them come back perform stronger.”

2. Periodized Training Programs 

Train smarter, not harder.

Paying attention to and working with a yearly hockey schedule goes a long way towards maximizing the extra training a minor hockey player is doing. 

In addition, a periodized training program not only takes the player’s time commitments into effect, but the specific athletic demands of their sport. These types of programs combined with on-ice training challenge the systems a player uses often in games and practices. 

So, you’re systemically challenging an athlete’s body depending on:

  • their sport 
  • their body composition 
  • the time of year

Hybrid training systems use incremental increases in intensity, weight and specific movements and should be monitored by professional fitness instructors. 

A crucial part of a periodized training program is the emphasis on unloading weeks, training pace and days off.

3. Respect the Lifestyle of a Minor Hockey Player

A lot of the problems associated with overtraining can be prevented by understanding the pressure that comes with playing hockey. According to Clint Thornton, the North Shore Winter Club’s hockey coordinator, an hockey player’s life is a triangle: Family, school, hockey, in that order. Everything else comes next. 

Allowing extra time for each element of that triangle will go a long way toward avoiding stress and weak performances. 

Fitting in school, homework, hormones, peer pressure and fitting in with the elite hockey crowd is difficult when it’s the only world you know, so taking time to appreciate the other parts of a child’s life will strengthen the bond that player has with the game.

It’s an old cliche, but absence makes the heart grow stronger. Encouraging self-awareness and responsibility for the body and mind away from the rink will boost a hockey player once he hits the ice.

photo credit: 5of7 via photopin cc

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