Training is an important part of any young hockey player’s life. In fact, it’s considered normal these days for a youth hockey player to spend several hours a week at formal practices and maybe even a few more hours training and practicing privately.
With that said, however, many young players are being overworked and over-trained, which can be dangerous not only to their physical health and well-being but also to their mentality.
Players who are overworked from a young age often burn-out quickly and grow to hate the sport they once loved. Plus, their relationships and school work can both suffer as a result. For these reasons, it’s extremely important to know the signs that your young hockey player is working a little TOO hard and needs to take a step back.
Reaction Time Suffers
One of the early warning signs that a youth hockey player is training too hard is slowed or delayed reaction times. When players who were once quick to respond to a puck let it sail by and only seem to become alert after a few minutes, this is a common sign that they are over-training.
Their head isn’t in the game and they are unfocused because they’re so exhausted, both mentally and physically, and “zonked out” from all the training they’re doing. Sadly, many people respond to reduced reaction times with MORE training and practice, which are the very last things that an overworked young athlete needs.
A Lack of Enthusiasm
Another major sign of an overworked young athlete is one who dreads training, practices, and games. If the hockey player in your life used to be excited about playing the sport or even just going to practice but now faces these events with dread and anxiety, that’s a bad sign.
Kids who get overworked are kids who grow to hate what they’re doing. Keep up the over-training, and they’ll likely drop out of hockey for good and lose all interest in a sport they were once passionate about.
Kids should be little bundles of energy. When they start acting tired all the time, then, that’s definitely not a good sign. A child athlete who is overworked is going to be sleepy constantly. If your little one appears tired more than usual or is especially exhausted after games or practices, don’t just write it off as growing pains. This could be an indication that your child is being worked too hard.
The best way to know how your child is feeling is to talk to him or her. Do so in an open, honest, non-confrontational kind of way to get a real response from your little one. If your child expresses that he or she feels overwhelmed by the sport, it’s time to reel things back in, reduce practice time, or maybe even take a bit of a break from hockey until you can all gain some perspective and get training (and life!) back to a healthy point for your young athlete.