Today is a great day for elite women’s hockey in North America. I am in Kingston, Ontario, watching the superstars from the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and the Western Women’s Hockey League battle it for the title of the best women’s hockey team in North America. The rosters of the 4 teams that are here are jam-packed full of past, present and future Olympians, and players representing nearly all of the major college and university teams you can name. All of these women are extremely successful hockey players – so how did they get here?…
…By making their strengths stronger.
What are your three biggest strengths as a player? What can you do to make them even better?
Aspiring girls hockey players sometimes spend too much time focusing on improving their weaknesses, instead of on strengthening their strengths. If you are already the best forechecker on your team, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work at becoming even better. What if you become the best forechecker in your league? Or in the world?
Back when I was playing at an elite level, these were my 3 biggest strengths:
1) My ability to forecheck
2) My physical strength
3) My ability to be in the right place at the right time
Sure, I could have just stayed “good” at these 3 areas of my game and focused my energy on some other skills I wasn’t so great at. For example, I never had the fanciest moves in the world – I could have spent hours and hours trying to be a pretty good stickhandler or I could focus my efforts on being the strongest player on the ice. I was never known as a player with the fanciest moves around and no one would have expected that from me. They did expect me to win all the battles in the corner, in front of the net and along the boards though.
It just made sense for me to make my strengths stronger instead of making my weaknesses a little better.
Now don’t get me wrong – if there was a skill that I couldn’t do at all, then I would have worked hard to make it competent. For example, when I first started playing women’s college hockey, I had no wrist shot whatsoever. I was always a defenseman as a kid, so I spent the majority of my time working on my slap-shot instead. But as soon as I was moved up front, I knew that I would have to develop a quicker release and a powerful wrist shot in order to be effective. So I spent a lot of time working on my technique to get the wrist shot up to a respectable level. I was never going to have the best wrist shot in the world, but I didn’t want it to be an embarrassment either.
Now that we are heading into the off-season, you have the opportunity to develop some of your weaknesses and really strengthen your strengths. My physical strength was always a huge asset for me on the ice, so I spent a lot of time in the summer working hard in my off-ice training to become the strongest player possible. For me, the road to success was always paved right through the weight room. Ten years ago, when I first went to college to play women’s hockey, my dedication to off-ice training really gave me a huge advantage over my competition. Nowadays, it is an absolute requirement. You can’t get to the elite levels of women’s hockey without working as hard off the ice as you do on the ice.
What 3 strengths are you going to make even stronger this off-season?
Work Hard. Dream BIG. Get Stronger.
~ Coach Kim
PS – My brand-new site just went live today. Check it out here: Total Female Hockey TRAINING.