Trent Klatt played in the NHL for 14 years before becoming the head amateur scout for the New York Islanders. With years of experience, he is offering one bold bit of advice: to become a better hockey player, get off the ice. Klatt sat down with USA Hockey to discuss his advice that most may disagree with initially. Growing up, Klatt played three different sports: football, hockey, and baseball. Rather than draining all of your energy into one sport, play a variety of them and focus on developing as an athlete. During the recruiting process, Klatt is looking for just that: an athlete. There is something to be said about a hockey player who also excels in other sports. While they are developing different muscles and reflexes, they are also developing skills that transfer over to other sports (such as hand-eye coordination).
Klatt worries that the public, and parents especially, have become so consumed by the idea that their children needs to participate in every possible league and camp in order to reach the professional level. Rather than having that mindset, it is important to give the athletes freedom to do what they want–whether it is another sport or even time off. If the athlete is not looking forward to playing, it can lead to burn out. Never taking time off can also lead to injury–even at the professional level. The best way to develop a hockey player is to allow them the time and space to develop first and foremost as an athlete. When children are allowed the leeway to choose when to pick up the hockey stick, the baseball bat, football or anything else, they will do so with much more eagerness and effort. Without those two attributes, a child may not reach their full potential–on the rink, or anywhere else for that matter! So, instead of having aspiring hockey players partake in every training camp available, encourage them to take a break from the rink instead. Ironically enough, it may be exactly what they need to become the professional player they aspire to be.