To be honest, being an elite athlete is a pretty selfish pursuit. And becoming an elite female hockey player is no exception.
Most of your decisions in day-to-day life are guided by the question, “Will this make me a better player or not?” You make a commitment to be your very best and your choices reflect that commitment. It is very easy to become “ME” focused, even when you are playing a team sport.
But is that really what you should focus on if you want to be the best female hockey player possible?
A perfect example of wanting to showcase your skills to standout is going on right now here in Ontario, where we are in the midst of our Under-16 team tryouts. As the off-ice player development coach at these tryouts, I always address the issue of what players can do to stand-out in these highly competitive situations. Having and showcasing individual skills is critical in these tryouts, but there is another really great way to help yourself be seen a great player…
=> By using your individual skills to make the players around you better.
The best example of a player who does this better than any other women’s hockey player I have seen in Jennifer Botteril (pictured above). Jen is the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer and a three-time Olympian for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons she is such a great player is that she makes everyone around her better when she’s on the ice. I honestly believe Jen could be on a line with two 10 year olds and she could make them look like Olympians. Her game sense and ability to distribute the puck to the right place at the right time can only be described as uncanny. Sure, she’s a great skater, passer, stickhandler, shooter etc, but it is her ability to make her teammates better that really makes her standout.
I remember back to my junior year of college when I first started focusing as much on how I could make my teammates better as I did on making myself better. Shifting my focus not only allowed me to help our team be better, but it took some of the pressure off me (mostly self-inflicted) to always be the best. That small change in focus had profound effects on my linemates’ performance as well as my own.
So while you need to be very focused on what you need to do and want to achieve individually in order to become the best female hockey player you can be, you will really start to take your game to the next level once you start focusing on how you can make the players around you better as well.
Work Hard, Dream BIG and Make Your Teammates Better.
Your friend and coach,