Having been at both the Team Canada and Team Ontario Under 18 team tryouts
for the past 2 weeks, I’ve seen a lot of great players and good hockey being played.
Players who have reached the tryouts for provincial and national level teams
definitely have the skills to be there.
But do they have the HABITS that will help them get to the next level?
I am constantly reminding players that their on-ice HABITS can be deal-breakers
or game-changers when it comes to standing out and getting noticed. Especially
near the end of tryouts or tournaments when it’s easy to take shortcuts and easy
to make excuses about why you aren’t paying attention to details.
So as we all head into the start of the season, I wanted to send you a quick
list of 4 essential hockey habits that all players must focus on if they want to
excel this season and move closer to realizing their potential. There are many
more habits that are key to success – these are just the ones that really stood
out to me over the past few weeks.
:::: 4 Essential Hockey Habits ::::
ALWAYS KNOW WHERE THE PUCK IS: This one drives me crazy.
I’m sure you’ve seen it many times before as well – a player is totally
open and is a great passing options, except for the fact that she has
no idea where the puck is. So when the puck gets passed to her, it
ends up being a turnover to the other team. Not knowing where the
puck is always seems to be most noticeable to me in the neutral zone.
Players constantly have their backs to the play which prevents them
from being in a position to support or receive the puck effectively.
We’ve all heard the term “head on a swivel” and it is something that
players must remember in all three zones of the ice – not just when
they are trying to find their check in the defensive zone.
STICK ON THE ICE: This is another one that can be more than a little
frustrating. I see far too many players skating around the ice with their
stick parallel to the ice instead of on the ice. This is especially frustrating
when they are in good position to receive a pass or take a shot but don’t
have enough time to get their stick down on the ice before the puck gets
there. Having your stick on the ice and getting it into passing & shooting
lanes in the defensive zone is also one of the easiest ways to create
turnovers and regain puck possession. This message has to be drilled into
players’ heads again and again – PUT YOUR STICK ON THE ICE!
GIVING A GOOD TARGET: Now that players have their sticks on the ice,
are they presenting a good target for their teammates? Do they get their
stick in a position that will allow them to receive it easily and move it quickly?
Whether you are receiving the puck on your forehand or backhand, you
need to show as much of the blade as possible to the person making the
pass so that they have the best target possible to hit. If you give a bad target,
don’t be surprised when you receive a bad pass. Passing is a two way street
and the passer and receiver both have to take responsibility for every pass
received out on the ice.
TALK: When it comes to team play, players need to talk just as much in the
defensive zone as they do in the offensive zone. Players have a tendency to
communicate more when their team has puck possession than when they
are trying to get possession back. When you’re battling in your defensive zone,
you need to take control of the situation and communicate responsibilities.
Talking always makes the game easier for you and your teammates and is
one of the simplest ways to take your performance to the next level.
Plus – coaches and scouts always love it when they can hear players
talking out on the ice – it definitely makes you stand out.
Please feel free to pass this message along to any friends, teammates, players,
coaches or parents who might benefit from reading it.
Work Hard. Dream BIG. Have Great Habits.
Your friend and coach,
Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS