Training for kids (multi-sports)

I may not be remembering this correctly but I could have sworn that I remembered Jonathan had played ice hockey so I thought that he might be a good resource for this question. My 11 year old son loves both hockey and endurance cycling. He has done a quite a few medium distance (40ish miles) gravel rides with me and since we live in Nebraska there are a lot of gravel opportunities. It’s always a great feeling to see him power up and over a hill that adult ‘athletes’ struggle with.
Now that his hockey season is over, I was wondering if a structured cycling training program would benefit him over the off-season. As far as hockey is concerned as he has aged up and the competition is increasing he struggles with the short-intense bursts needed with a 90 second shift followed by 5 minutes of waiting on the bench for your next turn, and then being able to turn it on again over and over for a 1 hour game.
Would a plan that focuses on Vo2/Anaerobic/Sprint power rather than Endurance and Tempo be beneficial for him? Are the muscular, neuromuscular and cardiovascular adaptations translatable from cycling to ice hockey – it’s all legs and lungs right? Are there any concerns about a program like this for an 11 year old?
On a separate note, both his mom and I really appreciate the podcast and the very positive messages that the entire team consistently advocate. Particularly having someone with Amber’s career background reassure all of us that athletic performance is separate from an individual’s value or worth. Being in hyper competitive sports like travel hockey or cycling that message sometimes that gets lost on kids so we really appreciate having the reinforcements!

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From what I’ve heard and read (and experienced myself), more endurance work will provide greater recovery and repeatability for short intense efforts. Not sure if its a fair assumption that will translate to hockey. If it is, just keep it fun and ride more endurance on all your gravel :smile:


As a Father of Boys aged 10 and 7, I’m following with interest.

I’m finding it challenging treading that line of “if you train you’ll get better” versus “this isn’t fun anymore, Dad”!

Impressed with the 40 mile gravel ride though. :clap:t2:


searched “hockey aerobic endurance” and some other stuff. Mixed results, some studies say don’t bother, some say do it. Definitely it depends.

This guy played pro hockey and says off-season do aerobic endurance on the bike:

You’ll naturally get some anaerobic work too.

1980 article

That concludes with “On-ice and off-ice training programmes should focus on the elevation of aerobic endurance, anaerobic power and endurance, muscular strength and skating speed.” So some aerobic endurance in the off-season seems justified.

This one:

concludes “don’t bother doing aerobic endurance work during practices” which makes sense, but your questions is about the off-season.

This one:

concludes with “findings suggest a need for aerobic training throughout the college hockey season.”

My experience with PubMed papers is you can find arguments for and against anything, some studies ask very narrow questions, and you always need to question things like “was the study well designed?” and “is the study representative of my situation” and stuff like that.

In any case, aerobic endurance is developed over years. Hockey practice will work on anaerobic, which are short-term adaptations that come and go. Personally I’ve seen nieces and nephews start focusing on a single sport at young ages, fast tracking pre-teen on strength and speed, trying to get an advantage. Several received scholarships for NCAA Division 1 sports, but suffered from injuries throughout high school and college. A couple doctors blamed early work on strength, before their bodies had developed. My niece is 25 and mad she pushed so hard at such a young age, after her 2nd rotator cuff surgery last year. But who knows what the real reason was, different doctors told her different stories. On the other hand one of my nephews went straight from high school to professional baseball, unlike his cousins he played all sports and didn’t try fast tracking on one sport. Not clear if that was a reason he ended up more durable. But it certainly kept him mentally fresh and stopped him from burning out.

Hope that helps and have fun riding gravel with your son!

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