Hockey players need to be agile and coordinated. They need to have balance. They need to be fast off the start, which comes from having quick, explosive muscles.
Learning to skate is the first step
Unless your child wants to play field hockey, Canada’s game starts with skating. So before you worry about games and pucks and equipment and early-morning practices, start by getting to your community ice rink.
Many facilities will rent skates – and helmets, which are mandatory in many jurisdictions – that you can all wear to get a start. When your kids start bugging you to go to the rink every day, you can always find good skates at your local sports swap. It’s a benefit to living in a country where so many kids play hockey.
The skills they’ll need
After you’ve got a start on skating, the basic movement skills that kids can work on to become hockey players include:
- catching: especially for goalies who need to catch pucks in a glove, but all players benefit from the hand-eye coordination that comes from catching
- gliding: good for balance as well as locomotion on an icy surface
- jumping: great for building lower-body strength and explosiveness
- kicking: this can help with coordination in targeting as well as striking an object, not to mention lower body development
- running: good for the development of lower body strength and speed, as well as balance and lateral movement
- striking: this refers to hitting an object with either the body or an object, in this case, hitting a ball or puck with a stick
- throwing: this develops targeting accuracy as well as helps to develop upper body strength
Activities your child can do now
Here are some activities your child can practice to help develop movement skills that will make them better hockey players:
- Ball hockey for children
- Ball hockey for toddlers
- Balloon batting
- Balloon soccer
- Basic striking
- Hockey shooting
If you’ve got older children who are already playing hockey, make sure you check out Hockey Canada’s suggestions for activities that can help goalies and skaters get better: