Breaking a physical and mental sweat can help keep some of the rust off
By Greg Bates, Special to AHAI – The coronavirus pandemic has wiped out this year’s Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships and has closed rinks for hockey players who would ordinarily be out on the ice skating with friends.
Kids are antsy not being able to play the game they love.
Even though hockey players are on lockdown — confined to their houses with their parents — there are still plenty of fun activities young skaters can do to continue to develop their skills.
Longtime Illinois coach Brad Bialas made up an impromptu game with his three hockey daughters, triplets Ashley, Sydney and Sarah.
On Day 1 of no school and the state-mandated stay at home order, the Bialas’ started what they dubbed the “Peloton Challenge.” The family had purchased a fitness machine and the parents posed a challenge, making the stakes interesting.
“Mom and dad are throwing out $200 for whoever tracks the most miles,” Bialas said. “You can do it when you want to do it and it doesn’t have to happen today, tomorrow, it’s whenever this [lockdown] is done. The first question was, ‘Well, when is it done? Well, we don’t know.’ That’s what makes it cool, you have to find a way to do it on your own. You have to drive yourself through it.”
Bialas said the first day all three girls rode on the bike and his wife was on it past midnight. Bialas didn’t get a chance to work out that day because he had to work.
“What it’s created is, first, a little bit of camaraderie, but mostly competition,” Bialas said.
Bialas stated he wanted to offer a reward on the competition because if people don’t have anything to battle for, they tend to not be motivated and move slower.
One of Bialas’ daughters started to tweak an old injury riding the bike, so a new wrinkle was added to the challenge. With miles depicting the point value, Bialas and his wife upped the ante.
“What we said is, ‘Hey, if you go down in the basement, every bucket of pucks — and our bucket holds about 50 pucks — we said every bucket is a half mile. You shoot 100 pucks, that’s a mile.’ That’s pretty cool. Then we said, ‘If you do a half-hour workout, you’re going to get five miles.’ If you ride the bike for about a half hour, you’d probably track about five miles or so.”
The challenge started to evolve as different pieces were added. It became more interesting, more fun.
“What we realized is we were fostering the competitive side, but what we left out was the team atmosphere,” Bialas said. “Now, everything was competitive. So, we added Phase 3, which was: if you work out with one of your sisters, you get double miles. For them, they’re like, ‘That’s great. Let’s go do that.’”
One of the daughters wanted to go to the basement to play HORSE, where the goal is to hit the post. Whoever hits the most posts after 10 shots wins.
“If I told my daughters, ‘Go down to the basement and work on a reverse toe drag in front of the net and try to get that thing to the top left corner,’ it’s a chore,” Bialas said. “Because it’s me telling them to do it. But when it was them getting creative and doing it on their own, it wasn’t me telling them to do it. It was challenging themselves.”
Plenty of other development ideas
There have also been fun ideas circulating on Facebook, namely the 10 Puck Challenge. Hockey players are nominated to shoot 10 pucks, hitting the post as many times as possible, followed by 10 pushups. Then it’s 10 more shots and doing wall sit for 30 seconds.
“There’s this social media viral effect that allows the kids to stay connected,” Bialas said.
Bialas said there are plenty of other developmental activities a player can do if there are space constrictions. Stick handling is a big one where as long as there is some type of ball around — golf ball, rubber ball — a player can work on that aspect of their game.
Bialas believes that doing hockey-related activities as a family instead of a player doing it on their own will be more impactful and more fun.
“The parents have to support the kids because they’re going through so much,” Bialas said. “We as parents are going through a lot, but we feel especially for hockey players, because they go all year round.”
Bialas doesn’t put a time frame on how often a hockey player should be working on skills each day or week. He noted it should be based on the player’s schedule.
With kids cooped up possibly for months due to the coronavirus, Bialas is hoping hockey will be back in the fall and there will be normalcy for everyone. During this time of isolation, Bialas would just like to see one important component from hockey players.
“Proving their love of the sport, seeing that come out in them,” Bialas said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.