Local athletes continuing to train despite the closure of courts and rinks

by Stephen Dafoe

With the snow receded and spring in the air, now is the time that athletes typically gear up for the next season of their sport. With social distancing in place, face-to-face group training is not possible now; however, it has not stopped local athletes from getting ready to play again.

Scott Richardson, who coached U11 for the Sturgeon Hockey Club this past season and coaches a 2009 age group for spring hockey, said his spring hockey team has been doing dryland workouts twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays night.

“We use Google Meets, and each kid has a turn to coach or lead the workout,” Richardson said. “The kids are really enjoying it; they make challenges for each other that they try and achieve before the next meeting.”

Some of those challenges include shooting 200 pucks a day or hitting three posts with three shots.

Richardson said after the dry land video workouts end, he’s finding the players stay on the computer to talk to one another for a while.

In his own family, they’ve upped the workouts and training, jogging two times per day and practicing hockey in the garage with a variety of games.

“We just try to stay active,” Richardson said. “We set little targets or goals and try to beat those.”

Samantha Ringuette, who coaches the Morinville Origen Sabretooths U15 Girls for Morinville Youth Basketball Association (MYBA), said her league is sharing Alberta Basketball’s Hoops @ Home program with players.

“[It] provides various resources and videos for both coaches and players to help them improve their game,” Ringuette said. “Alberta Basketball has done a great job of this and has videos for workouts, skills and the mental aspect of the game.”

Ringuette said the athletes who have been following the Hoops @ Home program are loving the opportunity.

“[It] provides them with activities to do and is for all ages, so even if they have siblings who are not basketball players, they can still participate,” she said. “We have coaches who have accessed the resources and videos that are specific to coaches, and having the opportunity to learn some skills as a coach has also been beneficial.

To keep up team morale, Ringuette said she has been sharing videos and photos from the past year on their social media platforms, especially Instagram, where most youth and players follow the league.

“We recently created a video that shows some highlights from our 2019-2020 season to keep our players and athletes thinking about the sport, and so they all know that we are still thinking about them,” she said.

Morinville Physical Therapy and Sports Injury Clinic’s Andrea Eberhardt said many athletes are experiencing an early or unexpected offseason when they would otherwise be training with their teams and in competition. She advocates for athletes keeping active.

“During this time, it is beneficial for both their mental and physical health to keep active and fit,” Eberhardt said. “It’s important for these individuals to keep up their cardiovascular endurance so that when they return to competition, they can adequately compete. Activities such as running and biking (while respecting social distancing recommendations) are ways they can maintain their cardiovascular health.”

Eberhardt said it is also important that players maintain their physical strength, so they are ready to compete when they can return to their sport.

“Off-season times are an opportunity to complete general, whole-body strengthening and conditioning,” she said. “Players often have muscle imbalances created by their sport due to sport-specific movements.”

In addition to doing sport-specific exercises, Eberhardt said athletes could use the off-season time to address those imbalances by focusing on different movement patterns/muscle groups.

“Players have to be resourceful during this time and can use the stairs in their house, filled water bottles as weights and/or backpacks with weight in them for whole-body conditioning exercises,” Eberhardt said. “If outside space is available, this is also a great option.”

Eberhardt said players, parents or coaches with questions or in need of suggestions for training ideas are encouraged to call them at 780-939-5150.

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