player tips




With Election Day just around the corner there is plenty of consideration – and consternation – among voters. Leading up to this election candidates on both a local and national level have displayed their character and aptitude through both action and words. At this point all that remains is the final decision of voters on who is best positioned to be a leader.

The definition of a leader is “the power or ability to lead other people”. Characteristics of a leader are similar, whether in sport, business or politics. A leader is someone who inspires and motivates. They are humble, intuitive, dedicated and solution oriented.

When hockey teams vote on who deserves the honor of wearing the “C” on their sweater, teammates and coaches make their decision based on many of the same considerations voters use to elect politicians, namely, the ability to lead. This should not be a popularity contest or an honor simply given to the best player on the team.

So what does it really mean to be a team captain? A captain and leader:

* Is respectful of teammates as well as the game of hockey. 

* Has a deep desire to win, to work hard and to inspire others to work just as hard.

* Is honest and trustworthy.

* Sets good examples in the good times, and well as during the challenging moments of the season.  

During this election season we have seen plenty of examples of what defines leaders and captains, as well as unfortunate situations that do not define leadership. For youth hockey players and captains, it’s important to remember that captaincy is a special honor, and one to be taken seriously on behalf of both teammates and coaches who look to their captain for leadership. Remember that the role of the captain and leader also extends beyond the ice, into the locker room and into daily life.

The following is one of our favorite quotes regarding leadership: “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

We hope you are have a great start to the season and that you elect a great captain – and leader – for your team!

When Auston Matthews scored a hat trick in his first NHL game, he became only the fifth player in NHL history to net 3 goals in a career debut. He also became the first Maple Leaf to accomplish this, which is pretty incredible for a team with the history of this original six team. Later in the game when Matthews proceeded to find the back of the net for the fourth time, you knew this would be a night that would have the hockey world talking.

It was little secret that Matthews would be chosen first in the 2016 NHL Draft, but as obvious as the choice seemed to be, the Matthews hype has been taken to an entirely new level after his opening night performance. Suddenly, everyone wants to know everything about this silky smooth forward from Arizona.

So what can youth hockey players learn from Matthews’ map to the NHL?

Skill Development. From an early age, Matthews focused on developing skills versus playing a bunch of games with all of the top teams in the area. He spent tons of hours playing small area games. He worked tirelessly on powerskating. He had the puck on his stick all the time learning to ‘stickhandle in a phone booth’. He focused on skill development and mastering the fundamental skills that would allow him to reach his full potential.

Work Ethic. Any coach will tell you that when you can combine exceptional skill with focus and drive, you have the recipe for a great hockey player. When Matthews learned a new skill he didn’t quit until he mastered it. Matthews’ work ethic is a shining example of what can happen when you have a mentality of not just learning a skill, but mastering a skill through repetition, commitment and hard work.

Shoot Pucks. At our hockey school we love to tell players that they can never shoot enough pucks. Matthews uses the skills he learned playing small area games to create time and space, which ultimately affords him the opportunities to get a lot of shots on goal. And not only is he getting shots on goal, but because he has a deadly shot, he has scored a lot of goals.

And in his first NHL game, he got 4.




Are You a Coachable Hockey Player?

Posted by Greg Carter

With the start of the hockey season upon us, it’s important to stop and think about your goals for this winter, and one of the first questions you should ask yourself is if you are a coachable player.

What is a ‘coachable player’? A few characteristics of coachable hockey players include:

  • Respecting your hockey coach and his/her ability to make you a better hockey player.
  • Accepting that there is always room for improvement and growth.
  • Acknowledgement that constructive criticism is part of hockey development.
  • A willingness and accountability to apply what is learned.
  • A burning desire to work hard and become a better hockey player!

In our many years of coaching and running hockey clinics and summer hockey schools, we have seen many hockey players who have great skills, but they simply aren’t coachable. This can be due to parent influence, ego, a lack of respect for the coach or inability to accept criticism. Regardless of the reason, a player will have a difficult time achieving their full potential if they are not coachable.

Perhaps one of the most important ingredients in being coachable is simply having a great attitude and approach to the game. Players who come to the rink eager and willing to learn at practice are going to listen to coaches rather than rolling their eyes at them. These players are going to think about the areas of their game that needs improvement rather than brushing it off as a coach picking on them. These players are the ones who leave practice excited and feeling like they improved on a skill, rather than dwelling on the fact they aren’t perfect.

Coachable players tend to develop their skills and knowledge of the game and an accelerated pace. They also tend to be those who the coaches like to work with, because the coaches can see the improvement, and find satisfaction in helping a player take their game to the next level.

Really good coaches thrive on feeding the hunger of coachable players. Good coaches will recognize and appreciate your desire to improve, and a positive coach/player relationship will most often result in the coach doing everything they can to help you achieve your goals.

So before the season really gets going, take a minute and ask yourself: Am I a coachable hockey player?


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