Becoming a better hockey player requires a certain dedication. Have you got what it takes?
By Christyne Vanofwegen
Becoming a better hockey player is the most important thing in the mind of every youth hockey player or adult hockey player alike.
Every child who has entered the ice at a hockey rink has most likely dreamed of making it to the Show—playing in the NHL. (Even the more “seasoned” among us will picture in their mind’s eye scoring that game-wining goal or making that unimaginable save). It’s a dream that very few players will get to realize, such is the standard at the elite level. But even those who play recreational hockey can learn a lot from the pros and apply it to their own game.
Becoming a better hockey player and improving your game begins with honing the skills that are essential to every hockey player. Two of the most fundamental things to work on are speed and strength, as hockey is such a frenetic, physical sport. The ability to instantly launch into a diagonal skating burst is essential, as you’ll regularly need to turn quickly in a game situation. Also, you should consistently strive to enhance your inner body strength. Even if you already have a big physique, strength training will improve your ability to shrug off challenges from opponents when skating at pace.
Cohesion with teammates is another core aspect to becoming a better hockey player. As with any team sport, everyone needs to be on the same wavelength and equally pursuing the same goal to achieve success. By developing an innate understanding with teammates and actively encouraging them, genuine bonds will form and everyone will prosper. Be very mindful, though, not to let encouragement cross over into on-ice coaching or criticism; you certainly won’t be thanked for that.
Aside from being a proper team player, you need to have a strong individual mindset. That means taking every opportunity to improve your game. Even if you can’t get to an ice rink, practice on the street outside your home, or if you can, on a sheet of synthetic ice.
Yes, the NHL pros are supremely gifted, but none of them got to where they are without an extreme level of dedication. Be proud of your achievements and what you do right, but never rest on your laurels. Even the Crosbys and Ovechkins of this world can always do something better.
Here is an infographic from Tucker Hockey which outlines a few more of the attributes that are necessary to becoming a great hockey player—no matter what level you play at.