5 Things Guaranteed to Make You a Better Hockey Player (Hint: Has Nothing to do With Talent)

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I recently came across a post on Reddit that went viral on social media.

If you’re like me and spend a lot of time on the internet, chances are you’ve seen the post I’m referring to.

It’s called “10 Things That Require Zero Talent.”

Now, I don’t know who the original creator is or when it was first published, but there’s one thing I DO KNOW for sure… the five things mentioned in this post are the perfect recipe for setting yourself up for success in life, and also in hockey.

Now, don’t get me wrongtalent certainly helps in hockey, but there are a few ‘non-talent’  things you can do to amplify the rate at which you develop as a hockey player.

These things have nothing to do with how good you are and EVERYTHING to do with your character.

In my post, I take the five most important things from the original post and tie them directly to the game of hockey so you too can work to improve your game — and it has nothing to do with talent!

5 ‘Non-Talent’ Related Things to Help you Improve Your Game

If you’re a player, add these 5 things to your game and you’ll see an improvement in your performance over time.

If you’re a coach, build these 5 traits into the overall DNA of your team and you’ll take your player development to the next level.

1. Punctuality

A simple thing that is entirely in your control is punctuality. Being on time is a choice and it can have a profound impact on your performance.

Don’t believe me?

When you’re running late, your mind has to “catch up” so to speak. You’re 100% focused on making it on time.

Your mind is in the wrong place.

It’s extremely tough to then turn your focus towards things that matter, like practicesteam workouts, and games.

If you’re late for practice, your first few drills will suffer because you haven’t had the necessary time to calm your mind and get ready to improve. Over an entire season, that can have a big impact on your development.

If you’re rushing to get ready before a game, your first few shifts will suffer because your mind is still racing and won’t be calm enough to help you make the right decisions. Just one mistake can mean a goal for the opposing team.

Totally avoidable.

As I’m sure you know, it takes a ton of mental toughness to get back on track once you’re off to a bad start — save yourself the trouble by being on time.

That’s not all. Being on time has a ton of other benefits:

  • It shows others that you’re dependable
  • It teaches you that you can depend on yourself, further building self-confidence
  • It shows that you’re disciplined
  • It assures you’re at your best by allowing you to focus entirely on the task at hand

The takeaway: Just be on time. It’s completely under your control and can make a big difference in your overall performance.

2. Work Ethic

Hard work builds character. Plain and simple.

I like to think of work ethic as a performance multiplier. It can take someone with average skill and average hockey sense and make them above-average.

It’s also the same thing that can take a player with above-average skill and above-average hockey sense and make them below-average.

Again, it’s a choice.

Only you decide if your level of work ethic works FOR you or AGAINST you.

I’ll leave you with this quote:

“It seems the harder I work, the luckier I get.” – Thomas Jefferson

Go out and create your own luck.

3. Body Language

I’ve already written about this topic and how it can improve your on-ice performance, so I won’t repeat myself.

Check out my article on body language in hockey if you want to learn more about how changing just a few things in your game can really help your performance in the long-run — no talent necessary.

4. Energy and Enthusiasm

Energy and  enthusiasm is so important when it comes to developing as a hockey player. When you play competitively, you can find yourself skating anywhere from five-to-seven times times per week or more.

Sometimes, it’s hard to find the energy and enthusiasm needed to improve — but it’s a must if you want to get better!

In Junior, we used to practice early in the morning every single day. My old coach knew that some of the guys just weren’t morning people, so he made it a point to be extremely lively and enthusiastic.

He even had this quote that he would throw out every morning until it became engraved in our minds:

“Nothing great has ever been accomplished without enthusiasm.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

He reminded us that to win it all, we had to be enthusiasticenergized, and ready to take advantage of every practice opportunity we had — even if we just strolled out of bed less than an hour ago.

Any practice we dragged our feet to was another practice in favor of our opponents.

It sounds weird, but it worked. Being enthusiastic and energized just became part of our team’s DNA.

We would get to the rink earlier, throw on some loud music and get ready to improve.

All this before 7AM, knowing that we were about to get our butts kicked all over the ice for the next hour or so (Mondays were the toughest!).

Think about that for a second.

We knew we were about to have the toughest practice of the week, yet our new-found enthusiasm made it such that we were EXCITED to get out and practice. We adopted a ‘Win the Day Mindset‘.

As a result, we practiced at an exceptional pace, maintained complete focus for the entire duration, and had a ton of fun because we were enthusiastic.

It didn’t happen over night, but we slowly bought into our coach’s idea of enthusiasm and energy at all costs.

Come playoff time, we were well prepared because we had practiced better than any other team in the league.

Enthusiasm is your friend. Even if it feels like you’re faking it sometimes — your mind can’t tell the difference.

 5. Attitude

How do you deal with adversity?

Do you shy away and shut down or do you challenge it head-on?

When you’re down a few goals, do you pack it in your work twice as hard to get back in the game?

When practice is tough, do you hide behind the line to catch your breath or do you push your limits in order to improve as a player, even if you’re dead tired?

What you do in tough situations depends entirely on your attitude.

Your attitude drives your behavior.

This quote by Zig Ziglar sums it up perfectly:

“A negative thinker sees difficulty in every opportunity, while a positive thinker sees opportunity in every difficulty.” 

If you’re a negative thinker, it may be holding you back from success in hockey.

For example, what should you do if you suddenly start getting less ice-time?

The answer, of course, depends on your attitude.

A player with a negative attitude will blame his coach, linemates, or essentially anything that’s out of his control.

On the other hand, a player with a positive attitude will find a way to earn back his ice-time. He takes full responsibility rather than blaming others or pointing fingers.

As a result, a positive thinker will get better, and a negative thinker will stay the same or get worse because he’s not actively trying to overcome challenges.

Your attitude, above all else, is what drives you.

The next time you’re faced with something difficult, realize that it’s also an opportunity for you to grow as a hockey player — and as an individual — and it’s not just something out of your control.

Conclusion

If there’s one thing I want you to retain from all this is that you have the choice.

With all five of these things, the choice is entirely yours to make.

Being on time is a choice.

Working hard is a choice.

Good body language is a choice.

Being enthusiastic is a choice.

Having a positive attitude is a choice.

Choose to add these five elements to your game and you WILL see improvements across the board in the long run.

Why?

Because they foster the perfect environment for proper learning and development to take place.

No talent necessary!

Leave a comment below so we can hear your thoughts on player development.

 

Article and images reprinted with permission from Ben Levesque

BuiltForHockey.com

Ben has been playing hockey for 20+ years and has learned a ton from playing with the world’s best coaches & players. Among his accomplishments are a National Championship, a President’s Cup, a Semi-Final finish at the Memorial Cup, several Queen’s Cups and a helmet in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

 

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