Posted by Greg Carter
I like asking kids at our summer hockey camp what position they want to play in the upcoming season. Most often we hear center, and then right after that they bellow out ‘first line center!’ A team obviously can’t have nine first line centers, so what can you do as a player if you don’t find yourself as a first liner?
Skill development is a marathon, not a sprint. Players that were leaders on a team one season can be ‘caught’ by other players as they age, grow and mature. I’ve seen first line players one year become third line players the next and have also seen plenty of players who started the season on the third line work their way to a spot on the power play, penalty kill or first line.
How? It all starts with a desire and willingness to show up and work hard. Not once in a while, but every day at every practice! An old coach used to say that ‘the one thing we are going to do each and every day is get better, and if we do that, we’ll be a team full of really good, hard working hockey players at the end of the year.’
And for those players that did show up, work hard and get better every single day, things can change quickly, and a third line spot can change to second and first in the matter of weeks. Another key to success is being a smart player and making good hockey decisions. This is even more true at the Peewee and Bantam levels where coaches start to integrate systems and players who understand and can execute their roles and responsibilities become the trusted players that coaches can count on in special team situations.
If you have found yourself in a situation this season where you are on a line that you don’t like or aren’t part of the power play or penalty kill, embrace the challenge and turn up your effort even more. Continue to focus on specific skills and bring a great attitude each and every day.
An opportunity will present itself at some point this season and when the moment arrives and the coach calls your number, take advantage of the break and don’t look back!
The great college basketball coach Roy Williams was quoted as saying “I can live with just about anything, but not a lack of effort. If you want to play in the game, you must give me 100%.”
This is even more true if you want to play on the first line or power play. Work harder than everyone else and don’t give the coach any reason not to play you!
Thanks for reading, good luck this season and we look forward to seeing you at the rink soon!