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Taking Time Off From Hockey: Even the Top Players Do It

Needed Rest for Body and Mind

By JulieD

Refreshing the mind

Angela also stresses the importance of time away from the ice because it helps her stay mentally sharp. "Mentally having time away from my sport was really good for me." That way when I start skating again "it is because I want to skate, [and] play because I want to be there."

For kids, time off from their sport is especially important. Angela strongly encourages kids to "take time off in the summer, or when it's your off-season, and do other things [to] stay active. Use that time to relax and when your season is back, you'll be completely recharged."

Playing another sport

During your child's time away from hockey, encourage him to try new activities, such as another sport. Cross training doesn't have to just be done in the gym; it can be practiced by playing other sports which build complimentary skills. For example, a hockey player who runs track, or plays soccer or tennis, will develop strength, aerobic endurance, and footwork that will likely make her a better player when she returns to the ice.

The skills required for most sports all relate to one another. Through cross-training and playing different sports, children develop different muscles and skills that actually make them into a better athlete in their chosen sport. As Angela points out, "taking time away from your sport doesn't mean that you're ever really away from it."

Honoring commitments

Because the ice hockey season is a long one and requires a greater level of dedication and commitment than some other sports, parents are advised to make sure that their child is committed to playing for the entire season before the season starts:

  • Make sure it is something he really wants to do and that he is playing because it is fun, not because someone else (a parent, coach, teammates) expect him to; and

  • Make sure he understands that in joining a team he is making a commitment to his teammates that he needs to be prepared to honor. While a child should never be pushed to practice or play if he truly doesn't want to, he may need occasional reminders, when his spirits begin to lag, about the commitment he has made to his team.
As Angela says, a hockey player's "time off is when the season ends and then maybe [he] can try another sport."