I’m slowly starting to realize that more and more parents are hell-bent on having their son or daughter play hockey year-round. I have written about how early specialization in sport is an epidemic in the making. Rather than rehash that article, I’ll give you the take-home notes from it.

·         As an athlete, you only have one body. Do not ruin your career with injuries

·         50% of current youth injuries could be avoided by not playing a sport all year

·         By repeatedly using the same muscle groups and movement patterns, often on an almost year-round basis, young athletes are increasing their chances of developing a whole host of injuries

·         Lower abdominal tears in hockey, Tommy John surgeries in baseball, and ACL tears in young female athletes are significantly on the rise

·         Kids need to play multiple sports at a young age to improve their overall athleticism and reduce injury risk. By doing this, you are avoiding unnecessary strains on their joints and connective tissue

·         We need to get rid of this ridiculous mentality that more is always better. We need to take a step back and seriously look at what youth sports look like these days

·         For the parents out there, run barefoot on pavement for 10 km every day. See how many injuries you sustain throughout the year

I’ve come up with a compromise that will make everyone happy:

Play ball hockey. It has numerous benefits and you still get to play some form of hockey.

·         It’s great for some conditioning if you don’t do any on your own time.

·         The short sprints are a great way to work on speed and agility (granted, once you’re fatigued you’re no longer working on speed…it becomes conditioning)

·         If you have terrible hands, like myself, it will surely improve them

·         It promotes creativity as it tends to be quite offensive

·         Hand-eye coordination and vision will be greatly enhanced if that’s a trouble area for you

Skating mechanics require you to produce force in the frontal plane (side to side). Running mechanics require you to produce force in the sagittal plane (back and forth).

For hockey players, staying out of the frontal plane during most of the off-season is a really, really, really good idea. Our players go on the ice twice a week in July and August. That’s it.

If you want your son or daughter to have hip/groin/lower abdominal injuries, enroll them in spring and summer hockey. After all, the NHL scouts come watch your 14-year-old son play right…?

If they are already developing injuries at that age, take a step back and realize the cause of their injuries is most likely from the choice to enroll them in year-round hockey.

It doesn’t matter if their friends are playing. It doesn’t matter that they want to play. Be a parent, not their friend. Look out for the best interest of your child.

Those are harsh words, but sometimes that’s the best way to get the point across.

It’s been well documented that the most successful athletes are the people that play multiple sports growing up. So why are we specializing so soon? Why do we insist more is always better? Why are youth injuries drastically on the rise?

This is a plea to the parents out there.

Please stop enrolling your son or daughter in year-round ice hockey. Put them in a variety of sports and if you really want them playing some form of hockey, then consider that compromise. Ball hockey is a great option for the summer. It’s a win-win-win situation: health, happiness and longevity for the young athletes out there.

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