Are complete athletes the best hockey players?
Posted by Dean Holden at October 30th, 2013
by Richard Monette, 29 March 2012
In our January 2012 newsletter we featured a story about the Canadian National Junior team as they prepared for the 2012 Hockey World Championship.
During breaks in practice, we asked the players about their athletic background. Many of them told us they played a variety of sports growing up, an indication that they developed physical literacy. We concluded that “well-rounded athletes do make the best hockey players”.
But we wanted to confirm what the players told us, so we asked them to fill out a questionnaire (15 of the 22 players on the roster, 68 percent, completed the survey). The results were quite conclusive: 73 percent of the players indicated that while growing up they played other sports in addition to hockey. On average they didn’t specialize in hockey until age 14. Many were playing other sports until they were 15.
It’s also interesting to note what other sports they played because all of the activities required them to master physical or mental skills that are complementary to hockey.
Making better hockey players: Other sports played by Team Canada’s 2012 juniors
- golf (73%)
- soccer (67%)
- baseball (53%)
- volleyball (47%)
- basketball (40%)
- tennis (40%)
<It doesn’t hurt that Canada has the luxury of ‘quantity’ – meaning many kids to pick from and many ice rinks in which to train – when contrasted with their European counterparts. In fact, I believe it is definitely ‘quantity over quality’ in Canada (especially after talking to colleagues in Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Finland, etc.) I also believe USA Hockey is doing a terrific job with their American Development Model and deserves significant kudos. A couple of years ago, the USA exceeded Canada in hockey registration numbers (Canada’s numbers continue to drop while USA’s continue to climb!) and their widespread implementation of the ADM is creating more of a quality base than what I see occurring in Canada. Again, only my opinion, but I believe it will only be a matter of time before the USA consistently beats Canada at all levels! IF Canada refocuses on their base, it will still take years to catch up to the USA. – DH>