Learning table tennis helps hockey goaltenders, suggests NWT pilot

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Table tennis lessons improve the performance of ice hockey goaltenders, suggests a limited experience involving youth from the Northwest Territories.

Table Tennis North has partnered with various groups to establish a pilot program where seven Hay River minor hockey goaltenders, aged nine to 15, completed six weeks of table tennis training to improve the hand-eye coordination and reaction time.

The Sport Information Resource Center, which evaluated the program, reports that off-ice hand-eye coordination and the percentage of on-ice stoppages of participants improved, as did off-ice reaction time in an off-ice. lesser extent.

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“I thought it would improve my hand-eye coordination and reflexes slightly, but it helped me a lot, actually,” said one participant in the center’s report.

The conclusions are preliminary in nature. Normally, research to firmly establish such an advantage would involve a much larger participant group and a longer-term control group.

However, the Sport Information Resource Center said the initial study was promising.

“This program provided a unique opportunity for young goaltenders to develop their skills in a fun, creative and supportive learning environment,” said Veronica Allan, director of research and innovation at the center, in a statement.

“The evaluation findings highlighted the early successes of the program and showed support for its expansion. “

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Thorsten Gohl, Executive Director of Table Tennis North, said: “Mixing games like table tennis and hockey is the fastest way to improve hand-eye coordination and reaction time in children and teens. .

Increasingly, sports scientists are recommending that young people play multiple sports rather than focusing exclusively on one.

Jessica VanOverbeek, Executive Director of the Mackenzie Recreation Association – which helps fund access to sports in a range of NWT communities and has supported the pilot program – said the program has demonstrated that “a multi-sport approach is best. means of improving and developing physical literacy in individuals.

Table Tennis North said the program will return in 2022 and expand to more northern communities.

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