A: Beyond the obvious answer of playing their very best throughout the season, there are some less obvious building blocks that can aim a teenaged player toward the top. Those include things like taking responsibility for training, preparation, performance and recovery. It truly becomes a question of how bad an athlete wants it at this point. To achieve their peak performance consistently, they must make sacrifices, train with a purpose, endure the unknown and deal with adversity in a constructive way, because nothing is guaranteed in sport.
In order to achieve their goals, it’s a good idea to develop a regular training routine and educate themselves on different training methods. Over time, they’ll gain a better understanding of what works best for them. They should utilize the many resources available to better understand the importance of nutrition, strength-building, hydration, recovery, target heart rates, stretching andbody composition. We also recommend cross-training and playing multiple sports in order to develop overall athleticism and stay fresh mentally and physically.
True players have the mentality that they can always get better and refine their skills.
As it relates specifically to being invited to a USA Hockey National Player Development Camp and moving into that echelon of players, it’s also important to remember that patience is a key factor in development. Players, parents and coaches must not try to artificially accelerate the development process. In most cases, doing so will actually slow a player’s development. Stay patient, work hard and keep a long-term view instead. This is especially the case with physical development. Players and parents should be realistic about where a child is within his or her physical development. Things can change quickly at this age with growth spurts and maturation. While this season might not be a physically dominant one for your young teen, next season could be totally different.
Here’s a fact from USA Hockey’s National Player Development Camps: only about half of the players invited to the Select 15 Boys Camp make it back for the Select 16 Camp. This is evidence of how much can change in a short time at these ages, depending on commitment, growth spurts and late maturation, just to name a few factors. So if your child doesn’t make it this year, it’s not the end of the world. By staying focused and letting nature take its course, they might make a leap next year. And for those who do make it early, it’s just as important to keep improving, because those later-maturing athletes will be coming on strong.