At the age of 17, players have the opportunity to be selected and compete with the U.S. National U18 Team, either through the national Player Development Camp or the National Team Development Program. The U18 age level is the initial age where the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) holds an official world championship event.
The objective of 18U Midget hockey is to prepare athletes for the competitive environment, continue to refine technical adaptability, ancillary skills and develop the physical attributes. This is the time to optimize general athleticism and fitness and to begin to specialize in ice hockey. Training should be individualized to the athlete’s particular needs in each facet of performance – technical, tactical, physical and mental, with the understanding that these areas are highly interdependent. During this stage, training volume and intensity increase, so incorporation of recovery methods and monitoring is important. The training season is longer, and event specific. Competitions and tournaments become more important and the focus starts to shift from development to performance. Athletes learn to prepare for competition, and learn to handle competitive pressures in any situation. This is the time to consolidate individual strengths and rectify weaknesses.
The key focus for this age is:
The athlete should have well-developed mental preparation skills, and should continue to refine these skills. Competition becomes more important and athletes must learn to perform on demand. Training and practice in mental preparation will help the athlete cope with the stresses associated with training, tournaments and selection, and will contribute to their overall development as competitive athletes. Athletes should have input in setting training goals and priorities, and should be included in decision-making process. Athletes are capable of self-coaching and should be encouraged to think for themselves, rather than relying solely on coach feedback. They should ensure that key support systems (fitness monitoring, recovery and regeneration, psychology, nutrition and health needs) are in place and integrated with a training program that includes a regular, year-round strength & conditioning.