Pavlov A.S., PhD, senior methodist of Hockey School CSKA;
lecturer of Russian State University of Physical Education, Sports, Youth and Tourism (SCOLIPE)
Deev A.Y., director of Hockey School CSKA
Petrov A.A., lecturer of Russian State University of Physical Education, Sports, Youth and Tourism (SCOLIPE);
video coach of National Women Ice Hockey Team of Russia
Abstract. The article discusses the problems of training of the young hockey players. The successful examples of late specialization in ice hockey are given. It is stated that the only way to achieve the desired growth of young athletes’ skills in hockey is the training of multiple components of hockey and the technique of hockey in the first place.
Keywords: ice hockey training, young players, technique of hockey, laws of adaptation.
Introduction. Specialists working in children’s and youth hockey often ask questions, among all those questions, two can be highlighted: At what age should a child start learning hockey? What should be the direction of training loads in different age groups? The topic of the optimal number of training sessions per week among hockey players of various training groups is separately discussed.
Main part. Currently, there is a widespread misconception about the need to start hockey classes as early as possible. In Russia, following the example of foreign colleagues from Canada, children are put on skates as early as 3 years. At the same time, during tryouts in hockey schools, coaches prefer candidates who already possess basic skating skills at the ages of 5-6 years old. And if a child comes to a hockey school at an older age without hockey experience, he will not even be allowed to participate in the tryouts. The opposite example can be seen in Scandinavian countries, when children start playing hockey at the age of 8 and later, this does not prevent them from joining the world hockey elite and represent their countries in the strongest leagues in the world. As an example, you can list a number of well-known hockey players that started playing “late”. Owen Nolan — Canadian hockey player, a member of the Canadian national team, was selected as the first number on the NHL draft and played 18 seasons in the league, first started skating at the age of 9 years. The famous Canadian hockey player Ed Jovanovsky started playing hockey at the age of 11, which did not prevent him, along with the Canadian team, to win the Olympic gold in 2002 and successfully play in the National Hockey League for a long time. President of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, three-time Olympic champion, an outstanding Soviet hockey goalkeeper Vladislav Tretiak began playing hockey at the age of 11.
In 2017 at the international scientific-practical conference the coach of the junior national team of Russia U16 Sergey Golubovich mentioned in his report that training programs for hockey players abroad, particularly in Canada, provide for no more than 3 ice training sessions per week for hockey players of 5-7 years old. His opinion is also supported by the Denmark youth coach Olaf Eller. The main problem of starting hockey at an early age (3-5 years old), according to coaches, is that it can ruin children’s interest in the sport. However, this does not reflect the whole essence of the existing problems associated with the early start of hockey. In particular, the early start of hockey does not take into account the physiological characteristics of the development of the organism — the active growth of bones and muscular structures, the formation of ligaments, etc. Not considering these aspects provokes a decrease in the growth rate of the child, as well as the appearance and pathological changes in the bone and muscle structures of the body. Another problem lies in the ability of the child to master the training tasks effectively. It is necessary to understand that the process of preparing a hockey player requires a child’s conscious attitude to the training process and the desire to learn. And if the child, due to his age, does not understand what is required of him when performing this or that exercise, the effectiveness of the work he does will tend to go down to zero.
Considering the question “What should be the focus of training loads in different age groups?” — it should be noted that most coaches are convinced of the need for initial constant work on the development of the so-called «physical qualities»  of an athlete (creating a «base» for the subsequent growth of sports skills — according to Russian sport scientist L.P. Matveev), putting them at the center of the training regime of hockey players. The emphasis on the development in training sessions of non-actually “physical qualities” (one should speak not about abstract “physical qualities”, but about the complex characteristics of specific movements) does not lead to an increase in the ability of hockey players. Moreover, due to the infinite resources and capabilities of the organism, an athlete’s training work, which differs from competitive hockey work in its specificity, causes an inappropriate expenditure of these resources and capabilities of an athlete, reducing his athletic potential and eventually turning even the most talented hockey player into an ordinary player.
Moreover, in the process of the long-term training of hockey players, they are increasingly subject to improving primarily their “physical” preparedness, which is often carried out to the detriment of the technical training of hockey players. As a result, the discrepancy between «physical development» and the skill of hockey players leads to insufficient training of graduates of hockey schools and the imminent end of their sports career. Accordingly, answering the question posed above, we argue that, first of all, young hockey players should be trained in the proper execution of specific motor acts — technical hockey skills — in compliance with the principles of purposefulness, expediency and systematicity in the selection of appropriate means and methods of training.
In support of the above, it is worth quoting the words of a Canadian hockey specialist Finn Sean, who noted during his report at the conference on the training of hockey players: “No matter how physically and tactically developed a hockey player is, he will never become a professional if he doesn’t know how to skate and doesn’t own many other technical components”.
According to this specialist, the main requirements in the organization of the construction of the training process, among others, are: training in various technical components (skating, possession of the puck, shots, etc.) at all stages of training hockey players; repeated repetitions of the techniques mastered by hockey players — under close control by the coach, who should prevent the hockey players from performing the exercises they are offered incorrectly; increasing the density of training sessions by organizing the work of hockey players at “stations”; reduction of downtime among hockey players during training sessions, organization of work at stations (thus, several elements are being worked out at the same time and a greater number of hockey players are involved).
Conclusion. However, when answering the question about the principles and laws of training young hockey players, it is worth focusing on the main aspects. The effectiveness of building the training process directly depends on the observance of two components: the laws of systems of physiology and modern fundamental principles of sports pedagogy . That is, the laws of systemic physiology (the laws of adaptation in particular) are the natural scientific basis of the training process.
According to the actual laws of adaptation :
1. The organism always works as an integral mechanism and forms specific motor acts in strict accordance with the conditions in which it is put.
2. Any activity of the organism is extremely specific both in its external parameters and in its internal (structural-functional) characteristics of the body’s work. In general, this specificity is determined by the structure and characteristics of the activity itself and the level of the functional readiness of the organism to perform it. There are no general movements, and from this position it is necessary to recognize as “illegal” the existence in sports pedagogy of the terms “general physical performance” and “general physical training”. Increasing the level of training of an athlete depends on positive (in relation to the requirements of this sport) structural and functional (adaptive) changes in physiological components that provide specific (competitive) activity of the athlete’s body. At the same time, the positivity or negativity of such changes should always be evaluated by their influence on the results of competitive activities.
3. Adaptive changes in the athlete’s body always correspond to the specifics of the training activity performed by him. At the same time, how specific the motor acts performed by the athlete in the process of training are, the energy and substrate costs of the organism performing actions are just as specific and the recovery processes is just as specific. And accordingly, as there is no “general movement”, there can be no “general restoration” — everything is specific.
4. Stable systems of specific motor acts are formed as a result of multiple standardized repetitions of specific movements. This provision is extremely important for its use in the work on developing technical elements of sports movements bye athletes, as well as to work on improving the level of special training of athletes.
Training for a specific movement (technical element) occurs in accordance with a number of laws: the law of change in speed in the development of skill, the law of «plateau» (delay) in the development of skill, the law of the absence of a limit in the development of a skill, the law of fading of skill, the law of transfer of skill, etc.
1. The law of change in speed in the development of skill. Skill is formed unevenly, which is expressed in varying degrees of qualitative growth in certain moments of its formation. Irregularity has two varieties: a) at the beginning of training, a relatively rapid mastery of the action takes place and then the qualitative increase in skill slows down. Such unevenness is characteristic of learning relatively easy actions when the student quickly grasps the basis of the action and takes a long time to master its details; b) at the beginning of training, the qualitative increase in skill is insignificant, and then it increases sharply. Such unevenness is characteristic of learning relatively complex actions, when seemingly imperceptible high-quality accumulations can only manifest themselves over time as an increase in the level of control of the action.
2. The law of «plateau» (delay) in the development of skill. The delay in the development of a skill is due to two reasons: a) «internal» associated with adaptive changes in the body; b) “external”, caused by the wrong teaching methodology.
3. The law of fading of skill. It manifests itself when the action is not repeated for a long time. The fading of the skill occurs gradually. However, the skill does not disappear completely, its foundation remains relatively long, and after repetitions, it is quickly restored.
4. The law of the absence of a limit in the development of a skill. The improvement of motor actions practically continues throughout the entire time of training in the chosen direction of physical education.
5. The law of transfer of motor skill. Positive and negative transfer of skills is manifested in physical education and sport. Positive transfer is such an interaction of skills, when a previously formed skill or another specific skill formed, facilitates and accelerates the process of the formation of a new skill required by the athlete. The main condition for a positive transfer of skill is the presence of structural similarities in the main phases of motor actions. Negative transfer is such an interaction of skills, when, on the contrary, an already existing or formed skill makes it difficult to form a new motor skill required by an athlete. This occurs in the absence of similarities in the main phases of motor acts.
In compliance with the above principles and laws: the only way to achieve the desired growth of young athletes’ skills in hockey is manifested in the training of multiple components of hockey (technique of hockey in first place), which ultimately forms athletic results for the minimum necessary period of time, without artificially extending of the training process.
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