Warm weather means school is out for summer. As time away from studies and
the rink begins for Hockey Canada Skills Academy students across the
country, the anticipation for the next hockey season has already begun.
But before the next school year begins, some students may be thinking about
what they can do over the summer to improve their game. While individual
skills can be worked on, there is also an opportunity to work on
transferable skills by playing additional sports.
“Baseball [is] great for your hand-eye coordination,” says Katie Greenway,
hockey development coordinator for Hockey Canada. “Throw a frisbee, go
swimming, ride a bike, do all these different things that are going to make
you a more well-rounded athlete, because the best hockey players are the
Although not every sport has a stick or a puck, the skills needed to play
hockey can be found in almost any activity. Running and soccer can help
with foot speed and mobility on the ice. Tennis and basketball work on
stopping and starting.
“The simplicity of hand-eye coordination with golf and badminton and the
racquet sports — [these are] all very transferable athletic movements that
are required in forward, defence and goaltending,” says Dean Seymour,
manager of NextGen/player development for Hockey Canada. “I don’t really
think it matters what sport you play or activity you’re doing, just get out
and do it.”
Playing in additional team sports can also further develop hockey IQ over
“A lot of kids, I think especially during the pandemic, were so focused on
individual skill that they don’t know how to play now within a team
system,” Greenway says. “I think multi-sport, especially team sports, help
with that IQ piece of game situation and how to read and react to certain
plays, which transfer back over into hockey: finding an open lane, leading
someone with a pass, working with other people.”
Something else that can benefit a player’s game is taking a brief step back
from hockey to give their body a well-deserved break after working hard all
“When I played, I would take a month off in the summer and it would change
everything,” Greenway says. “You missed the rink, you’re excited to come
back… I think that’s a huge piece.”
“[You] see the new energy in the player,” Seymour adds. “They may be rusty
for the first week, but it’s like riding a bike, it comes back.”
Taking a break in the summertime can also help to prevent burnout and limit
overuse injuries from repetitive movements.
“We see a big problem right now with a lot of kids that no matter what
sport they play, if that’s the only sport they do, that overuse injuries
are starting to onset earlier,” says Corey McNabb, director of NextGen
development at Hockey Canada. “By promoting other activities, you’re going
to not only balance the mental side of things, but you’re going to balance
the physical side of things.”
After taking some time off, those looking to better their hockey play could
try isolating specific skills over the summer. For example, a player could
work on stick-handling in the garage, or a goaltender could work on
catching with a glove. Students can also check out the Hockey Canada
Network for more drills and resources.
However, a brief break from the rink to enjoy the sun outside can be
exactly what a player needs to refresh and refocus before preparing for
tryouts in the fall.
“It’s important to step away from the game a little bit and just be a kid,
relax and enjoy the summer,” Greenway says.