From the Trainer’s Room: Recovering after a long hockey season and what you should know
Most youth players start practicing in August and finish games in March or April. That’s 8-9 months of 2-3 practices a week and anywhere from 25-60 or more games, not to mention any private lessons and dryland. This can take a huge toll on an athlete both physically and mentally.
In the 2002-03 NHL season, the Mighty Ducks played 113 games, including the regular season and pre- and post-season. It was a great run to the Stanley Cup Finals that ended in June. By the time everyone got home, it seemed like the training camp was around the corner.
Instead of having time off to recover, everyone went right back in to training, affecting both their physical and mental preparation for the following year where many key players returned still feeling tired and complaining of nagging injuries that never had time to heal.
Following the season, players must tone it down a bit and take time away from the ice and even some of their off-ice training. This isn’t to say they should go cold turkey and do nothing, but pick a priority or two and focus on them with less hours committed to the game for 2-6 weeks following the season.
It can be easier said than done, but decreasing the demands and pressure for a period of time can do wonders.
During this down time, take this time to work on your skating, shooting the puck better, getting in the weight room and getting stronger or rehab an injury. There are things that can be done during the off-season to improve your game, but make sure you take care of the little things that you may not always have time for during the season.
Chris Phillips ATC, CSCS, is a former athletic trainer in the NHL with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Washington Capitals and currently owns Compete Sports Performance and Rehab.