We weren’t always a hockey family. Neither my brother nor I played when we were kids, and though my husband skated on the pond behind his childhood home and coached CanSkate in town, he was never a hockey player.
Then our kids came along.
Seven years ago, when my older son said he wanted to play novice hockey, I was all: “No WAY am I becoming a hockey mom. Nope!”
My reluctance around 7 a.m. weekend practices and a sore butt on cold arena seats didn’t last once I saw him in his tiny skates, giant gloves, and big smile. You are so cute, I thought. Maybe we’ll try the hockey thing.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I’ve now managed an atom and peewee team. My husband has been a coach every season. And we love it.
On March 12 of this year, our peewee team (go Knights!) was smack in the middle of our league’s playoffs. I was busy trying to book more practice ice time, and we were gearing up for our last tournament of the season.
Then we got the call that school was closing for two weeks. Rumbling about hockey season ending early was all over social media. “But… it’s hockey!” the country seemed to say in unison.
If you’re like our family, you might have also thought we’d have a two-week timeout, before lacing up and resuming play. But instead—out of safety for all, and rightly so—hockey across the country was cancelled completely.
I cried. We took name bars off jerseys, and my son put away his “good” stick and pulled out street hockey gear for solo games in the driveway.
With hockey’s abrupt end, and kids at a loss for what to do, coaches and minor hockey organizations across the country came up with creative ways to help their young athletes deal with the loss of part of their season. (On June 4, Hockey Canada lifted its ban on sanctioned activities and announced that its 13 member organizations across the country are responsible for deciding when it’s appropriate to return to play.)
The Coaches Association of Ontario recommends coaches maintain virtual communication with athletes and parents, share credible and reliable resources for physical and mental health, and provide support by maintaining a social connection with their teams.
Through videoconferencing with coaches, social media challenges, and online sessions with private trainers, young athletes have stayed active, practicing drills, improving fundamental movement skills, and keeping connected to their teammates.
Professional players have been using social media to stay connected to fans, showing how they’re recreating skating’s stride with inline skating outdoors (and indoors!), and talking about mental health and resilience.
NHL teams like the Winnipeg Jets have shared workouts in their Adult at Home and Young Athlete at Home Series that focus on moving with competence and confidence—one of the key components of physical literacy—through drills that emphasize balance, coordination, agility, proprioception, strength, and conditioning.
Canadian minor hockey organizations have put together different training methods to keep their young athletes motivated, active, and working on skills while at home.
Here are a few examples from across the country:
Brad Lyon, senior manager of communications for Hockey Alberta, told Active for Life how Hockey Alberta is working with industry experts, Hockey Alberta partners, and program graduates from around the province to produce weekly off-ice skills drills, as part of its Hockey at Home Series.
The three different video series include:
- Strength and conditioning with Doug Crashley of Crash Conditioning
- Off-ice skills that can be done at home with Ali Stead
- Goalie skills with several graduates of the Team Alberta program
Saskatchewan Hockey Association
“Like most sports groups around the country, we recognized a need to connect with our membership and provide an opportunity to players that are looking to keep training during this downtime,” said Joseph Laprairie, manager of marketing and communications for the association.
The 10-week program focuses on hockey-specific training benefiting flexibility, mobility, stability, speed, strength, and power. It’s offered done through Zoom with Tom Bresciani, a professional trainer with a hockey background.
In this Saskatchewan Hockey Association podcast, Dan Yaskowich and Tom Bresciani from Level 10 Fitness Regina spoke about the importance of maintaining physical fitness and an active lifestyle while at home, and how you don’t need a ton of space to have a really good workout.
Ontario Minor Hockey Association
The Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s primary off-ice skill development resource is the OMHA Players Club presented by HockeyShot. The Players Club consists of three challenges including the 5000 Puck Challenge, 10,000 Touches, and the 30/30 Challenge.
The Players Club website describes the challenges as fun and engaging ways to increase quickness and accuracy, improve puck control, and develop physical literacy and fundamental movement skills.
“Players can track their progress using the tracking sheets for the three challenges, each aimed at improving a different area of the game,” said Mitchell Machtinger, communications coordinator for the OMHA.
Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador
In early May, Hockey NL invited all minor and female hockey teams to take part in a province-wide social night. Using video-conferencing applications such as Facetime or Zoom, teams were given a chance to virtually get together with teammates to relive memories from the past season.
Adam Douglas, Hockey Canada’s lead strength and conditioning coach, offers weekly tips and tricks with a new article every Monday on Active with Adam. He also goes live on the Hockey Canada Instagram each Thursday.
Besides hockey skills development, there are topics such as player nutrition and a recent article that discussed some positive aspects of social distancing.
One of these positives is the opportunity to try different sports, and the added benefits of multi-sport participation, which include improved movement abilities, skills transfer, and being less likely to burn out in your primary sport.
Related read: How playing multiple sports is good for your kids
Every Monday, Hockey Canada also posts lesson plans with hockey-themed activities for Grades K-6 from the Hockey Canada School Program. And kids can join guest readers (like two-time Olympic gold medallist Cassie Campbell-Pascall!) for Story Time on Hockey Canada’s Instagram.
Want even more hockey? Download the free Hockey Canada Network App with thousands of skills and drills videos, articles on health and wellness, off-ice training, and more.