After each season I get feedback from parents and players about how they spent their off-season. The old adage inevitably always applies.. Off-season preparation is what goes into having a successful "In-season".
Parents will approach me and talk about how their son/ daughter played in this tournament, or this league... how they traveled to this "showcase". Then they will ask me how their son/ daughter can improve and get to the next level, and each and every time the answer is simple... MORE PRACTICE.
One of the biggest issues surrounding the development of hockey players is the number of practices they have compared to the number of games they play. An ideal, realistic ratio is 2 practices for every 1 game played for ages 7 – 13. If you look at the above stats, how can we expect kids to develop when they are playing more games than practicing? Studies show that the better kids are at something, the more they will enjoy it, and the longer they will play. Many kids quit hockey because they get to the level where they can’t compete due to lack of skill – therefore it is no longer fun. At the ages of 5 – 6 or 5 – 7, the practice to game ratio should be even higher (6: 1) and in my opinion there is no need for formal games.
Keep in mind that children can practice hockey almost anywhere. You do not have to wait until a planned practice to practice your hockey skills. Encourage children to practice at home in the driveway or on the street and with friends. Hit the gym and develop the functional muscles to make yourself a more powerful skater. Look for outdoor rinks in the winter and places to practice shooting and stick handling in the summer. At night... watch hockey on TV.
In conclusion, if you want to be the player that makes the biggest jump in their skill level from one season to the next, practice each and everyday and even on off-season game days. Oktay Armagan, a terrific hockey coach and private lesson instructor has this outstanding quote on his website, and it certainly applies to my philosophy-
VICTORY HAPPENS WHEN 10,000 HOURS OF TRAINING MEETS ONE MOMENT OF OPPORTUNITY!
Thanks to the OMHA for allowing to publish the above chart.