Summer is just around the corner – but for ice hockey players, winter is never far away. David FlintNortheastern trainers Powerhouse women’s teamprovides tips and off-season goals to help players of all ages make the most of the warm weather while investing in their skills for next season.
Tip #1: Try a different sport
“That’s my big tip, especially for younger kids,” says Flint. “It doesn’t matter what you do — play baseball, ride your bike — as long as you do things to give your body a break.”
Breaking away from organized hockey and playing a different sport helps players develop strengths and skills that can be transferred to the ice (see below), while also allowing them to take a breather from hockey.
“One of the problems we have around the world is early specialization in sports,” says Flint. “I get it: Parents pay thousands of dollars to put their kids in camps and help them with private trainers. But by the time the kids get to high school, they might already be burned out.”
Playing another sport for fun can help deepen a player’s love for hockey, points out Flint, who points to the Northeastern forward Skylar Irving as someone who grew up playing field hockey and lacrosse alongside their chosen sport.
“Be a kid,” says Flint. “Enjoy other sports.”
Tip #2: Improve your speed boosts
“Hockey is all about short, quick shots,” says Flint. “There are many players who can reach a high pace over a longer distance. But the better players develop that speed in the first five steps, which gets those players to the puck quicker and more dynamic.”
This explosiveness has defined a number of Huskies, including forwards Alina Mueller (who will be team captain next season) and Skylar Fontainethe outgoing All-American defenseman who was arguably the nation’s fastest skater during her career in the Northeast.
For improved bursts of speed, Flint recommends five to seven sprints of no more than 10 to 20 meters.
“There are a lot of NHL players that do that,” Flint says. “Rest for a minute between each sprint to allow your body to recover. You want maximum effort, and that’s not going to happen if you do them one at a time.”
It’s also important to add a sense of competition.
“Go against a timer so you can see if you’re getting faster,” says Flint. “Nobody likes to do sprints, and sometimes you can just go through the motions. But if you’re racing against the clock or sprinting against a teammate, this competition will push you and bring out the best in you.”
Tip #3: Grab a racquet
“Some of the better European players I coached were really good at racquets,” says Flint.
Tennis, racquetball, and squash help hockey players improve their hand-eye coordination in high-speed situations, Flint says.
“I once coached a boy who was an incredible badminton player, where it’s all about short, quick jabs and changes of direction – and then you throw hand-eye coordination into it,” says Flint. “Racket sports and football are very big with the European players I’ve coached over the years.”
There’s another benefit of playing a sport like tennis that will pay off for years to come, Flint adds.
“You want activities that you can do later in life, when your hockey career is over,” he says. “These sports can help you with your development today. And later, they can help you stay fit and active by doing something you enjoy.”
Tip #4: Shoot pucks
On the ice, in your driveway, wherever you are…
“I always tell kids if you want a better, harder shot, just shoot pucks,” says Flint. “There’s no other way to do it.”
Although there is a way to improve shooting while getting paid for it.
“As kids get older, I tell them that one of the best summer jobs you can get is shooting at a goalie camp,” says Flint. “You always need shooters. You get paid to shoot hockey pucks and I guarantee you will score more goals next season.”
It’s hard work, warns Flint, who recalls his time as assistant coach of the men’s team at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, more than two decades ago.
“We had a kid who was a mediocre goalscorer for us,” Flint recalls. “He was shooting at the goalies all summer and at one of the first camps we had his hands were bleeding. He had blisters all over and I had to wrap his hands because he was shooting so many pucks. In the last two years he led the team as a goalscorer.”
Northeastern’s hardest shooter is Maureen Murphywho will return to the Huskies in 2022-23 after leading the nation with 30 goals last season.
“It’s no secret,” says Flint. “Repeat, repeat, repeat. Shoot pucks and your shot will be harder and more accurate.”
For media inquiriesplease contact [email protected].