I get asked by a lot of goalies and parents what they should do for the off-season to improve for the following year.
Where do I train? How much do I train? Who should I skate with or hire to coach me? I don't want to fall behind!
These are all valid concerns, and with the right goals, plan, and actionable steps, we can create a successful off-season together.
Here's a short list of off-season DO's followed by off-season DON'Ts.
Take time to rest. Rest & Relaxation is crucial to overall development, and it often goes forgotten. When your season finishes, take a break. Catch your breath. Reflect on the season. What went well? Or not so well? Some of the biggest gains in development come right after a period of rest, when athletes are eager to get back to learning, training, and improving.
No, you will not "fall behind" by taking a few weeks or even a month or two off after the season. Many NHL goalies and players often don't touch the ice until the end of July or early August! When you're ready to get after it again, you'll be excited and refreshed for hockey.
Play other sports, other activities, other positions. Especially at younger ages, by playing other sports and different positions, goalies can develop a better athletic base to develop their hockey-specific skills. Athletes become more dynamic, deepening critical skills such as play recognition, strategy, and teamwork. Additionally, the likelihood of boredom or 'burning out' is decreased when kids have other things to attach themselves to (see my other article on this too).
Try something (anything, everything) new. Whether it's a new sport or a new technique in net, the off-season is the time to try it. There's less pressure, so take chances and let creativity guide your play. Athletes become more dynamic when they try new things.
Improve your mind. You can't buy flood insurance after the fact. Likewise, we don't want to wait to improve mental strength & mindset skills when things go wrong and we're desperate for a change. Think of training your mind as a preemptive strike against negative events. You know that some are going to happen, so take the down time now to master new mental skills.
Read books, watch videos that inspire you to be better, be purposeful in what you think and what you tell yourself. Create a few 'power phrases' that you use to remind yourself of your strengths and values.
Set goals and a plan for success. When you're ready to get back after it, it's important to know what your aiming for and how you'll get there, then pursue it relentlessly. What team do you want to make at tryouts next fall? Being the best means discipline, effort, and putting in the time to improve. Nobody falls to the top of a mountain!
Think that your diet doesn't matter. Sure, enjoy yourself in the off-season, but don't expect that you'll just magically get back to form if you don't take care of your body. Eating well, drinking water, sleeping enough all will factor in your future success. Also, stretch.
Over-train. Set goals and create a plan that can be executed simply and efficiently. If you set up a plan that overloads you with too much to do, you won't get as much out of your training time. You want to push yourself for sure, but create sustainable plans that allow for adequate recovery.
Get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Aim to be better than who you were yesterday, not who someone else is today. Focus on your plan, your path. Find what WORKS for you & your goals.
In conclusion, take a break so that when you get back after your training, you're excited, eager, and ready to attack it. Take time to rest & relax, play other sports, and try new things.