How Does Playing Lacrosse Help With Hockey
Much debate surrounds the question of what is the most effective mode of training for hockey in the off-season.
Often people believe that continuing to play hockey over the summer will yield the greatest increase in skill for the next hockey season. This leads to parents enrolling their children into summer hockey leagues, summer hockey camps, off-ice hockey training and a variety of other summer hockey training methods.
Although all these methods can be effective, playing a different sport in the off-season is commonly underrated.
One of the most overlooked sports to play that translates directly to developing vital hockey skills is lacrosse. Although the transfer of skills from lacrosse to hockey may not appear obvious to the average person, those who have played both sports can attest that lacrosse contributes to the advancement of their hockey skills, all the way from recreational to professional levels.
A few of the notable past and present NHL players who believe in playing a different sport in the off-season are John Tavares and Wayne Gretzky.
Tavares of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been known as a hockey phenom for majority of his life. Prior to the start of his OHL and NHL careers, Tavares spent his summer days in the rinks playing lacrosse, not hockey. Growing up with his uncle John Tavares, who is known as one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time, the younger John was motivated to excel in lacrosse over the summer, and take a break from hockey for a few months. Now in the NHL, Tavares credits those months playing lacrosse for some of his success on the ice.
“People always talk about eye-hand coordination,” said Tavares in a 2012 Globe and Mail article, “and I totally agree with that. The one thing I have always told people is that it made a huge difference with rolling off checks and moving through traffic and things like that. It’s really benefited me.”
In the same 2012 Globe and Mail article, The Great One, Wayne Gretzky also credited lacrosse with giving him the idea of going behind the net and setting up his “office” from where he could send out such effective passes.
Gretzky also believes that there should be no such thing as “summer hockey”, and that young athletes should play a variety of games to teach new skills and, just as importantly, to prevent early burn-out.
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