How Much Time On The Ice During The Summer?
With NHL training camps opening last Thursday, naturally the media set out to find a story with the Leafs – why not pick on the best performing player Phil Kessel?
When Phil said, ‘I skated 10 times maybe all summer’, Leaf Nation gasped. I’m not gonna lie – I gasped a little bit too.
This very likely was not a change for Phil – this is typical off-season training for him. He is not one of those guys who prides himself on telling the boys how hard he worked all summer. And that’s not to say that he didn’t workout and train, but his path is different…and it works for Phil.
So this begs the question, how much should you be on the ice during the off-season (kinda late now I know). Just like the exercises in your off-ice training program, there is no ONE right answer, if there were, everyone would do the exact same program and get the exact same results.
A certain amount of skating will benefit the majority of players and then there will be the outliers with Phil who only skates maybe 10 times and at the other end the guy who skates 10 times per week from the beginning of May.
I wouldn’t recommend either.
I can’t say what will work for you specifically, but in my career we have had good success having players skate 1-2 times per week for technique and conditioning from June up until the start of August when they start their pro-skate.
During those early on-ice sessions players spend about 10-minutes working on technique and about 30-minutes doing conditioning drills focusing on either speed or stamina.
If the player is not injured, there isn’t any harm in having them on the ice for a limited time through the off-season. It does a nice job of helping them keep those neural patterns fresh and translating the off-ice strength and power work onto the ice.
These are junior and pro players – it is how they earn their living. Younger players should be on the ice too – but with a huge emphasis on technique during the summer months. It is the time to develop that skill, so make sure you go with someone next summer who really wants to teach you to skate and not just give you a bagger ever day you step on the ice.
Imagine if you went to take guitar lessons and the instructor just made you play the guitar solo from ‘Stairway to Heaven’ over and over again, might not be the best way to develop you skill.
So bottom line – let’s ease up on Phil. He hasn’t missed a game in the last FOUR seasons and he’s put up 30 or more goals (20 during the lockout year) every season since 2008. Can you say that about any other Leaf player on the roster?
Could he be better if he did a little more – probably yes – but it is tough to argue with success.
PS – Remember YOU are not Phil Kessel, so you will have to work for your successes – here’s where to start…