Transitioning from youth hockey to high school or prep school hockey involves significant changes and adjustments. From weight training to plyometrics for enhancing speed, here are some of the key aspects players need to be aware to succeed in this transition:
1. Increased Physicality:
High school and Prep School hockey bring a much higher level of physical play compared to youth hockey. Players must improve their strength, conditioning, and physicality to handle the more robust competition. Off-ice training, including weightlifting and exercises for core strength, agility, and balance, will help players adapt to the increased physical demands.
2. Enhanced Speed and Skill:
High school hockey is characterized by faster gameplay and a higher skill level. Players should improve their skating technique, speed, and quickness to keep up with the intensified pace. Off-ice plyometrics can help increase speed and explosiveness.
Increasing skill development time with a skills coach and regularly practicing skills such as puck protection, edge-work, passing accuracy, shooting accuracy, and stickhandling is essential to enhance overall performance on the ice. Read our article Five Simple Exercises To Build On-Ice Explosiveness to see some plyometrics your player can work on in their own time to increase their speed and explosiveness.
3. Hockey IQ and Decision Making:
Developing a solid hockey IQ is crucial for success at the high school level. At the youth level, skill advantage can go a long way, but at the high school level, players are on a much more level playing field from a skill perspective; thus, playing smarter is required. Players must better understand the game's strategies, positioning, and systems. Analyzing game situations, studying game film, and learning from experienced players and coaches can help improve decision-making and overall hockey sense
4. Mental Resilience and Focus:
High school hockey involves playing in front of larger crowds and dealing with increased pressure. Players must develop mental resilience, maintain focus, and stay composed in high-pressure situations. Practicing visualization techniques, building confidence through positive self-talk, and seeking guidance from older teammates can help players excel mentally.
5. Teamwork and Communication:
On-ice communication is vital for a high school player's success. Communication ensures team coordination and proper positioning, aids in playmaking, and facilitates goalie-defense cooperation. Given the skill parity at the high school level, players can't rely solely on trying to out-skill the opposition, like in youth hockey. To dive deeper into the benefits of on-ice communication, read the article we authored on the subject, which can be read here.
6. Adaptability and Versatility:
High school hockey often requires players to be versatile and adaptable to different playing styles and line combinations. Players should be willing to play different positions and be open to learning and implementing new strategies or systems based on the team's requirements.
In summary, transitioning to high school hockey from youth hockey requires players to focus on increasing physicality, improving speed and skill, developing hockey IQ and decision-making abilities, building mental resilience, and increasing communication.
By actively working on these aspects, players can position themselves for success at the high school and prep levels.
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