Authentic Performance Center is the official training site of the Evolution Elite Hockey Academy. The age range within the program is from 6 to 18 years old. Obviously, this is quite a vast range which translates to an array of ability in terms of training.
It would perceivably appear that working with the younger athletes would be a challenge, however it can be very rewarding and easy if some simple strategies are employed. First, when working with younger athletes, plan accordingly and KEEP IT SIMPLE!! Younger athletes (8-12 years old) do not need as much variation in their training as they are still growing rapidly and learning how to keep balance and coordinate movement more efficiently which is a fundamental pattern in foundational training.
A typical session with these teams will consist of a dynamic warm-up, simple plyometric drills, such as jumping, hopping, skipping, landing, footwork ladder drills and simple running mechanics. The program also focuses on basic body-weight strength like squats, lunges, push-ups, trunk stability-based exercises, and rudimentary crawling patterns.
Video 1: Here is an example of a Bear Crawl drill that works extremely well with youth athletes. Using the cone and tennis ball as an external cue for the athlete to keep from swaying his or her hips and/or torso intended to enhance the stability ability of the athlete. Typically, this motivates the athletes to complete the exercise for greater duration or length and can a great tool to add some competitiveness within the group and encourage their effort. The response to this drill has been tremendous as this is not easy for even our more advanced athletes.
Video 2: Here you will see one of our bounding drills from this past season. In this drill rings are used to show where they should land while stressing the athletes to absorb their landing by bending at the knee and sitting back at the hip. As the athletes improve with this exercises at we begin to emphasize pushing for greater height as if there is a hurdle to get over in between the rings. Eventually, a hurdle is actually utilized in between the rings to force them generate higher force and thus jump with greater amplitude.
Younger athletes can be very challenging yet rewarding to train if you plan accordingly, utilize simple tools, cue the athletes how to perform drills and exercises effectively and encourage them to perform and improve in a positive and productive manner.