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The Unyielding Meritocracy of Hockey: A Blueprint for Success in Life

From the local rinks to the grand arenas, one truth reigns supreme in hockey: meritocracy. Meritocracy, the system where success is based on individual ability and effort rather than social status or privilege, is deeply ingrained in the sport's fabric. Hockey is not a game for the faint of heart or the half-committed. It demands unwavering dedication, unrelenting effort, and an insatiable hunger for improvement.

Every player who steps onto the ice understands this fundamental truth: talent alone is not enough. In hockey, as in life, success is earned through sweat, sacrifice, and sheer determination. This lesson resonates from the lowest rungs of amateur leagues to the highest levels of professional competition.

In hockey and life you get out what you put in

From the moment a player laces up their skates, they are thrust into a world where mediocrity is unrewarded, and excellence is rewarded. In this arena, like in life, there are no handouts, shortcuts, or easy paths to success. You must earn your place, claw your way up the ranks, and force the world to notice.

But how does one rise through the ranks and gain their coach's trust in the fiercely competitive world of hockey? It starts with a plan—a relentless commitment to self-improvement and a refusal to accept anything less than one's best.

For instance, for a player struggling with speed, the plan may involve extra time on the ice, focusing on agility drills, and working with coaches to improve technique. Similarly, for those lacking in strength, hitting the gym becomes a non-negotiable part of the routine, with a focus on building muscle mass and increasing power. Even players battling weight issues can succeed by committing to a rigorous training regimen and adopting a disciplined approach to nutrition. In hockey, like life, success is often as much about mindset as it is about physical ability. Those who are willing to put in the work, day in and day out, are the ones who will ultimately rise to the top.

It's not just physical attributes that can be improved, but playing skills and mental aptitude. For players struggling with skating, shooting, or puckhandling, the solution is simple: practice, practice. Whether hitting the ice early in the morning or spending hours in the driveway perfecting your skills, the key is never to stop striving for improvement. Mental attributes can also be improved by watching more hockey games, not as a fan but with the discerning eye of a student looking to learn or perfect their craft. Observing how elite players make plays under pressure will help them replicate and incorporate those learnings into their game. Additionally, have your player watch many coaching videos on social media to understand positional responsibilities better, improve face-off techniques, or shoot better. Whatever your player's improvement goals are, there are plenty of resources, both paid and free, that can help.

Players need to recognize that their performance on the ice is a direct result of the effort they put into honing their skills, both during team practices and in their own time. Players discontented with their playing time or role on a team need to reflect on whether they're truly investing the time and effort to improve and gain the coach's trust with their on-ice play.


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In hockey, players and parents must understand that pure speed or skating skill isn't the only factor that makes a valuable player on the ice. Even if a player can skate like the wind and corner like a race car, if they consistently make poor decisions, try to skate through the whole team by themselves, or fail to make smart plays with the puck on the ice, they ultimately undermine the team's performance. I can't tell you how many times I have heard a parent say at a tryout or during a season, "How did they take that kid on the team," or "How come that player is playing so much? My player is such a better skater!"

HockeyIQ is as important if not more than raw skill

Parents and players need to take their blinders off and recognize the importance of HockeyIQ and playing smart. Understanding positioning, making effective passes, and being aware of the overall game flow can contribute more to success than raw physical abilities alone. In essence, prioritizing strategic thinking over sheer skill can lead to more cohesive teamwork and ultimately greater success, making the coach trust the player more and leading to more ice time!

Improving skills like shooting and stickhandling requires deliberate practice and consistent effort. It's hypocritical for players to complain about their ice time while endlessly playing Fortnite. While relaxation and leisure activities are essential for mental well-being, players must strike a balance between recreation and their athletic pursuits, especially if they aspire to excel in their sport. If they don't want to excel, that's fine too, but they can't complain about their playing time come the season!

In essence, hockey players must take ownership of their development and performance. Complaining about playing time or skills deficiencies without putting in the requisite effort to rectify these issues is counterproductive and undermines their credibility as committed athletes. By prioritizing focused training, demonstrating a strong work ethic, and maintaining a disciplined approach to their craft, players can earn the respect of their coaches and teammates and increase their chances of achieving success on the ice and more ice time.

In hockey, as in life, success is not handed to you on a silver platter. It must be earned through hard work, determination, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. But the rewards are limitless for those willing to put in the effort, embrace the grind, and never settle for anything less than their best.


Coach Kevin

Like this Article? Then read our article entitled; If you want more ice time, change the coach's perception of your game.

Go to Coach's Corner to read all of our articles.


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