There is no debate as to whether age-specific cardiovascular training is safe for youth sides; cardio training undoubtedly improves match performance, and has no ill effects to a teenager or child’s growth or physiology. It is then no surprise that a good cardiovascular training program should be part and parcel for youth teams in any sport whether it be football, basketball, or beach volleyball.
The beauty of cardio training is that you don’t really have to invest in machines used in fitness tests, as this article isn’t about professional sides; that being said, if your team has access to machines such as treadmills and stationary bikes, all the better.
Cardiovascular training is a great way to teach children the value of discipline, teamwork, and perseverance, which are all attributes you must seek to engender when coaching youth sides for any particular sport – including hockey. Hockey is a fast-paced paced, physical sport that puts a premium on technique and strength. You will be suprised at how competitive youth hockey could be especially if you are a novice at coaching.
This is why we have formulated a sample cardiovascular training plan for your youth hockey side with nothing more than a few cones and a jump rope.
The benefits of skipping on a jump rope for aerobic exercise is well-documented; the jump rope is an essential tool for any cardiovascular training regimen. Furthermore, it’s something you can take anywhere. Have your players jump on their two feet using the balls of their feet and work with their timing and rhythm. Have them count their repetitions and encourage them to always beat their previous high score as though it were a video game.
This plyometric exercise promotes explosive jumps and sprints all in one go while being very simple to set up. Simply place two cones two or three feet apart, and have three players line up in front of them. Have them do a vertical leap over both cones and finish with a ten-yard sprint and jog back to the end of the line, and repeat as necessary.
Lateral Ski Jumps
The same is true for this plyometric exercise. Have your charges stand with their feet aligned to their shoulders, with their knees and hips at a slightly bent angle. Using a hockey stick placed on their side (or a cone for extra challenge), have them jump vertically using both of their feet and arms for momentum as high as they can over the stick or the cone to their side. Make sure that they land softly with their knees and hips at the same angle as they were prior to jumping over the stick or cone, as though doing a ski jump.
For the last exercise, have them line up into two equal groups while setting up two cones about 20-30 feet apart from each other. Have them sprint to touch the second cone and back to the starting cone, and have them tag the next player to do the same thing. The first team to get their players back to the starting position wins; jazz this up by having them sprint while doing cariocas, skips, laterally, backwards or on one leg for extra challenge.
As you can see, cardio training is fun, effective, and a way to get your players not just into proper match fitness, but also a fun way to encourage competition within the squad. You will find that the discipline that cardio training entails will spill over to their technical training habits, which can only be a good thing for your hockey team once they hit the rinks.