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Summer hockey – How much is too much?

Hockey all year round? Let's go!

I know from your comments and emails that many Hockey Moms in Canada wonder how much hockey is too much, whether or not you should have your kids in summer camps, and what kind of spring and summer camps are best. I also have these questions and worry that I’m not doing the right thing for my kids (who would like to play hockey all year long by the way…but sometimes enough is enough for one year??)

So I asked Corey McNabb, Manager of Player Development with Hockey Canada “how much spring/summer hockey for our kids, and how young should it start?”

Hockey Canada recognizes that in recent years, the trend is to over train, over compete and over schedule our young players, leading to player fatigue and (gasp!) hockey burnout. Summer has traditionally been considered a time to rest and rejuvenate, getting kids involved in different sports that compliment hockey skills, and maybe even get kids enjoying some WARM fresh air.

In recognition of the emerging and increasing popularity of spring and summer hockey programs, Hockey Canada prepared the “Spring/Summer Skills Development Program Outline” (currently in DRAFT format). Here, Hockey Canada provides guidelines for the three stages of spring/summer Hockey.

*NOTE Hockey Canada does not say that players HAVE to follow this outline, but are suggesting criteria for the types of activities/programs you should be looking for if your child is interested in spring/summer hockey.

Summary of the Three Stages of Spring Hockey

1) Second Season:

Who: Novice to Midget

When: March to May

Purpose: Designed for players in all age groups who want to keep skating prior to summer sport activities with a focus on skills and informal 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 games.

Frequency: 1 to 2 times per week, 30 min skills/ 30 min scrimmage

2) Spring Development

Who: Novice to Midget

When: April to June

Purpose: Designed to offer kids and coaches an opportunity to continue development through weekly development sessions in non-competitive environment; includes introduction to fun off-ice activities that can be done alone or with other players.

Frequency: 1 to 2 times per week on ice, 1 time per week off ice

3) High Performance Development

Who: Peewee-Midget

When: April to June

Purpose: Designed to prepare higher level players and coaches for competitive level hockey, would incorporate off- ice sessions and held in the spring once Provincial/Branch Tournaments were completed.

Frequency: 2 times per week on ice, 1 to 2 time per week off ice.

According to Corey McNabb, “ultimately it is okay for kids to skate in the spring and summer, but the program should be development focussed and they should be playing other sports as well such as soccer, lacrosse, baseball or golf, for example. The summer hockey camps that are the best for them are the ones that get them ready for tryouts or evaluations as a weeklong camp in the middle of summer, although it is fun, doesn’t do a lot of good, if they are off skates for another month before tryouts. Novice, (age seven and eight) are as young as they should start spring/summer hockey programs”.

So, there you have it. Play in the spring summer if your child (and you) are interested, but don’t overdo it, and keep the focus on development and fun, not competition.

Comments or questions, or want more information? Email

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