When getting better at hockey, it is crucial to your performance to train in the sport and skills of hockey. That goes for anything you do. If you want to be better at squatting, squat more. If you want to do better on an exam, take more practice exams.
However, I am also a big believer in playing different sports especially for young athletes.
Playing different sports all year-round can improve your overall athletic ability and maintain your conditioning and strength levels during the hockey off-season.
Most of the elite athletes in the world have played multiple sports throughout their lifetime.
Sidney Crosby was a catcher and pitcher at Shattuck-St. Mary's School. Wayne Gretzky and Eric Lindros both had connections to the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Even Chris Drury can be found playing in the Little League World Series!
Goes beyond baseball as well, Wayne Gretzky also credits lacrosse for helping him with his offensive hockey ability. Matt Moulson was actually drafted in the National Lacrosse League. And Jon Mirasty was a youth boxer and MMA Fighter.
Even when I look at my own athletic development, each sport had a profound impact on my ability today. I wrestled since I was really young, and that improved my core strength and balance. Soccer improved my endurance and foot coordination. Basketball gave me a better insight on offensive/defensive roles and improved my explosive movements.
Entering college, I took up a few strength sports which took my general physical preparedness (GPP) skills to a new level.
Being a HYBRID athlete has its perks and if you are not already in other sports, then you should look into it.
The core traits of any athlete can be placed into 10 categories. These are called the General Physical Preparedness (GPP) skills and they are:
How well are you at each of these traits? Make a list, and rank each of them between 0-10 (10 being perfect). Act as if its you're creating yourself in NHL 2016, but be honest.
Also, check out Hockey Helper's in-depth article on the 10 GPP parameters
I urge all of you to take on other sports outside of hockey. Especially while you are in grade school, and even more-so during your time off or off-season.
If you're in the hockey in-season and do not want to join an additional sport on the side, I encourage you to look for athletic clubs you can possibly join that is not full-time. A Crossfit Box, a weightlifting club, Brazilian jujitsu classes.
Or during the hockey downtime, feel free to simply grab a soccer ball and learn to juggle alone or with a group recreationally. Do not limit your physical learning with the need to join a club or a new sport. Feel free to just be active, like surfing or swimming or biking and even hiking!
Learn, Grow, Enjoy