Repetition vs. Repetitions: Training Youth Athletes

Jun 22, 2022

The mother of mastery is deliberate repetition! As Coaches, we are always trying to find better ways to gain maximal results while promoting movement proficiency for our athletes. Variety plays an important role! Reps, sets, stress fluctuation, tempo and exercise selection are a few of the variables that need to be manipulated in order to produce maximal adaptation.

Of these variables, many coaches/trainers make the mistake of constantly tampering with exercise selection. At Donskov Strength and Conditioning this is the LAST variable to change in youth training! Why? Competent movement skills! If you don't practice, you will NEVER master! Coach Boyle recently answered a question about why his young athletes Clean so often. His response: "Skill acquisition!"…"Beginners need repetition, not necessarily repetitions." Let's look how this philosophy applies to sports. Below is some supporting data from Hockey Canada.

What the Experts Found: Experts from Hockey Canada compiled the following data with regard to a youth hockey (60-minute) practice and game.

Game Numbers:

• Players will have the puck on their stick for an average of 8 seconds a game.

• Players will average 1 to 2 shots per game.

• Players will take an average of 18 shifts per game.

Practice Numbers:

• 1 efficient practice will give a player more skill development than 11 games collectively.

• In a 60--minute practice, each player will have the puck on his or her stick for approx. 8 -- 12 minutes.

• Each player will take a minimum of 30 shots on net.

These numbers clearly indicate that practice is where development takes place in youth sports. It is also where development takes place in the weight room! Practice is deliberate REPITITION! Just like skating, stick handling, passing, and shooting develop fundamental skills on the ice, building solid skills in the weight room takes constant repetition. If it's important DO IT OFTEN! It doesn't have to be a loaded movement. Many times these can be added to a dynamic warm-up. Coaches, the next time you decide to change the exercise selection, ask yourself this: can my athletes' clean, squat, dead lift, push and press with masterful skill? If the answer is to this question is no, it is imperative that you practice. Your athletes will never master movement if it's not practiced consistently and repeatedly. If you don't practice, your athletes will always be in a game like atmosphere with the puck on their sticks for 8 seconds!


Hockey Canada Minor Hockey Development Guide:

Anthony Donskov, MS, CSCS, PES, is a former collegiate and professional hockey player, founder of Donskov Strength and Conditioning Inc., ( and Head Instructor/Director of Off-Ice Strength and Conditioning for Donskov Hockey Development ( He can be reached at



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