Kim McCullough

Will you get noticed or get better this summer?

By Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS

Playoff hockey is at it’s peak in rinks across the country, but the real buzz around the rinks is about tryouts and next season. Girls’ hockey has become a year-round sport, which means that more and more spring teams, summer tournaments and camps are popping up all over the place. It seems like getting to the elite levels of female hockey means more time, more money and more commitment than ever.

Back when I was an aspiring girls’ hockey player in high school, I would have gone anywhere and done anything if I thought that it would improve my chances of “getting noticed.”  But “getting noticed” and “getting better” are two very different things. The truth is that going to five spring hockey tournaments or attending a five-day summer camp isn’t going to make you better.

I am not saying to avoid those camps and tournaments altogether. But instead of spending the entire summer in a hockey rink, go to the one or two camps or tournaments that have the most value and spend the rest of the summer focusing on training. Instead of trying to convince coaches how good you are, spend that time getting better so that they will notice you next season when it really counts.

In my final two years of high school, I spent most of my summer in a gym training off the ice to become the best player possible on the ice. I wanted to play Division I hockey more than anything and I was also looking for a way to make sure that I would not only get noticed in September, but also stand out all season long. Sure, I went to the odd camp or tournament during the summer to keep my skills up, but my primary focus was on getting faster and stronger so that I would be ready for my last year of high school and first year in college. And I truly believe that my dedication to summer training is what gave me an advantage over everyone else on the ice when the season started.

And that’s when I was really able to “get noticed.”

One of the big reasons I started working with young female hockey players in the first place was to help them do exactly what they need to do in the offseason to become the best players possible. And that’s training off the ice. The best female hockey players don’t play hockey all summer long. They train. It may not be as much “fun” and it may not seem as “specific,” but it works.

This summer, you have a decision to make. You can go to all the camps and tournaments and try to get noticed. Or you spend your time training off the ice to get stronger, faster and better and stand out when it really counts in September.

To learn more about how to take your game to the next level with off-ice training this off-season, visit  Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS, is an expert in the development of aspiring young hockey players.  Kim’s player development websites give coaches and parents of young players access to programs, articles and advice on how to help their players take their game to the next level safely and effectively.