What a fantastic time to be a hockey player.
It’s early January, the holidays are done, and the only thing left to focus on is the stretch run and coming to the rink every day.
That’s right, you can credit the NSWC blog with the very first mention of the term #stretchrun.
But before we get too far into 2016, we’ve got a couple resolutions that will guide us into the new year.
Lifelong learning is what youth sports are all about. Sure, it’s nice to win games and make the next team, but the key to extracting value from hockey is to absorb information on a daily basis.
This can mean learning about another aspect of the game such as a new position, or simply apply to lessons about a fresh element of the game. If you’re an offensive player, boost your defensive game. If you’re a goalie, pay attention to how the opponent’s defensemen shoot the puck.
You can also resolve to learn more about a teammate who you might not spend a lot of time with. You’ll never get to know someone unless you ask!
…Even though you’re not. A while back an acquaintance of mine got all rattled because I referred to a youth hockey player’s ‘career’. It’s not a career, he told me.
And he was right, but that doesn’t mean we can’t resolve to treat it as such.
Training like a pro includes coming to the rink every day and giving your best effort even when you’re not totally into it. Admittedly this will be easier for older players (although coaches of younger players ought to be making it easier to find some consistency).
For players in atom and above, training like a pro includes off-ice activities as well. Eating right, sleeping and putting in some work in the gym are all resolutions we can strive towards in 2016.
The entire hockey community is guilty on occasion of putting the cart before the horse. We’re focused, nay, blinded but the future. Well, when does the future become the present? Sometimes it seems as though hockey parents will only be satisfied when, at the age of 38 after a multimillion dollar contract has been completed, the Stanley Cup is raised over your child’s head and you can finally relax.
Well, that is not going to happen to you.
Unless you encourage your son or daughter to focus on the process instead of the results. Pay attention to the daily opportunities in front of your face, things like being a good teammate, training like a pro and developing every single day.
One way to focus on the here and now is to start getting riled up for the playoffs. I know winning isn’t everything (despite what some people say), but hot damn it’s fun to win. Players play the game to win. That’s the point of sports. Gearing up for the playoffs will help stabilize focus for the next couple months and make it easier to concentrate in practice.
What do you need in the playoffs?
The playoffs are all about contributions throughout the lineup. Bring your A-game to practice every day and by the time the playoffs roll around you’ll be ready to go.
Oh, and bring your parents along for the ride, too.