Here are some important to-do's before heading to the rink!
Eat a good meal in advance
It is vital that a player eats 1.5 hours prior to a game. A good rule of thumb is to make sure all eating is done at least 1 hour before you leave the house with a small snack to bring into the dressing room as sticks are taped and equipment is set up before dry land warm-up. It's god to plan in advance to assure that fast food is not needed as a quick rescue for hunger pangs that result from poor planning! Just as important as planning for a healthy meal is focusing on hydration. Making sure that a player gets enough water prior to a game is important in joint/muscle function as well as nervous system transmission for movement and thinking clearly.
Set some goals
A lot of parents think that the game or practice starts when their child gets to the rink, but the reality is that it starts at home. Studies have shown that the activities a young player does prior to games, have a direct correlation to sports performance. A great way is to have goal setting sheets that the player uses to list and explain 3 goals for their performance that day. This allows them to get into the habit of self-reflection and mental preparation.
Don't forget any equipment!
Obviously it goes without saying that checking that all the equipment is in a hockey bag before leaving for the rink is the single most important factor for success! Simply making sure each piece of equipment is in the bag (especially their Oneiric Base Layer!) is not the end of a young player’s responsibility. They should also get in the habit of inspecting straps and screws to discover any equipment issues. Nothing is more frustrating than having a player realize pre-game, that they have something wrong with their helmet etc.
Studies show that having multiple shortened bouts of stretching prior to a game or practice improves performance drastically. It allows for frequent raising of the muscle temperature with more lubrication of joints and tendons. It is a common mistake that a good long stretch before a game will get the muscles ready, but the truth is that holding stretches for any more than 6-8 seconds prior to a game, actually deactivates muscle cell activity. A short stretch at home with a focus on breathing and relaxation provides a great advantage as it primes the muscles to be ready to respond quicker to the main warm-up that will take place later at the rink.