Should young hockey players “Train like the Pros”?

I am so lucky because I get to train some great hockey players.  I train a Stanley Cup champion and I train some 13-14 year old hockey players who dominate their league.  These all great athletes, but do I train them the same?   Do I train my young athletes “train like the pros”?  My answer is yes and no.  I suppose if a pro player came to me and he or she had never trained for hockey before, then I would start them at the beginning, so in that case the answer would be yes, but in all other cases the answer is a resounding NO!!  Here are my goals for training young hockey players:

  • Teach perfect strength training technique using appropriate loads – sometimes this means holding a younger athlete back a little and not letting them lift as much as they physically can.
  • Teach movement skills. Help athletes accelerate, decelerate and change direction efficiently to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Teach athletes that their actions speak louder than their words and that it takes discipline to succeed. I do not want one of my athlete to ever turn into one of those unfortunate souls who’s “coach hated him” or who’s “agent screwed him out of opportunities” or any of the other excuses you hear from people who just did not make it for any number or reasons.
  • This puts the athlete in a position to capitalize on any opportunities that come their way.