In the world of hockey there are what seems like endless training tools designed help improve a player’s skill on and off the ice.
A simple google search will bring up a plethora of companies selling the latest and greatest equipment to improve every facet of your skills. There is a lot of value to using these training tools on and off the ice. The development of equipment in this medium has advanced so far that individuals can build their own rinks using synthetic ice in their basement. It’s no secret that hockey has, as a sport, a number of barriers to its continued growth, specifically in youth development. These barriers consist mainly in cost of equipment, and the cost of ice time. We also need to take into account that throughout the US the hockey culture and communities are different and have different needs and access to things like rinks.
In Washington State, specifically Western Washington there are only a small handful of hockey rinks available and the opportunities to compete are not as abundant. It requires the programs there to be creative in finding players and finding adequate completion within a reasonable driving distance. However, when we look at Minnesota there are more rinks, players, and development available. The issues there is that the competition for hockey is fierce, and as a result players who don’t carry on in their system will ultimately filter out into other sports. As a result hockey programs may need to start thinking creatively in order keep those players in their system and developing, but in different ways.
How does floorball fit into the hockey world? It’s no secret to many that floorball is a very useful off-ice training tool, and there are many benefits that it can bring to hockey players and programs. When we look at youth development and hockey those are two obstacles. For one thing it’s hard enough just learning to stand on skates and it’s another to add the complexities that go into learning and playing hockey. As a result floorball can be used in a number of ways to help reduce cost on parents, free up valuable ice time for facilities, help coaches teach more technical aspects off the ice, and allow for a more comprehensive skill development for players. If hockey teams shifted a practice even once a week from the ice to a gym they would immediately reduce their costs. Renting a gym in most areas is significantly cheaper than ice, and helps create positive relationships with local businesses. If you break that down over the course of a season there are some significant savings. That alone could help retain players, improve their skill and hockey knowledge, enjoyment, and their overall physical development. At the same time coaches would have a controlled environment to teach allowing players the ability to connect movement off the ice back onto the ice.
In the end running a floorball program as part of the overall hockey development of players benefits the organization, coaches, and players. The confidence players develop being able to do a pull back off-the ice will directly translate to their confidence of carrying out the same move on the ice. Floorball can also be used to develop summer leagues, summer fitness program, or attract new players and parents to hockey. It’s certainly worth investigating how floorball can benefit your players and organization.