I’ve played on lots of teams and with many players, and I can honestly say hockey players are some of the best people you will meet. But every so often, you’ll come across a teammate who doesn’t buy into the team concept. They are more worried about being personally successful than the team’s success.
As technology has evolved, it’s easier for coaches to do their homework. Teams will contact old coaches, teammates, and scouts to get the latest update on the type of kid you are. Coaches want to coach good people.
Show up With the Right Attitude
A positive team culture needs to be in place to be a successful team. Creating an environment where players are excited about coming to the rink is critical. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Show up to practice with a positive attitude and eagerness to compete and get better. Don’t be the teammate who says, “this drill sucks,” “there is no way we’re going to win today,” or “I should have got more ice time.”
Make sure when it’s time to practice, you are invested physically and mentally. This way, the coach can maximize the time on ice, and the team can better.
You don’t want to be classified as the team’s “drill wrecker” (this is the player who doesn’t pay attention when the coach explains the drill and proceeds to mess it up). This usually forces the coach to blow the whistle and wastes valuable practice time.
Understand the difference between “working hard” and “going through the motions.” “Working hard” means giving maximum effort in each drill and challenging your teammates. “Going through the motions” means doing the drill but not being fully engaged or pushing yourself. Each time on the ice, make it a goal to get a little bit better.
Accept Your Role
As you progress in your hockey career, you’ll understand that each team will have different players filling different roles. You might be on the first line, on the powerplay, or the penalty kill. Regardless of how much ice time you receive, your role is critical in creating a winning team.
Whatever your role is, make the most of your opportunities. If you’re not happy with your role, don’t complain. Continue to put your head down and go to work each day.
If you are unclear about your role, don’t be afraid to approach your coach and ask. A team operates best when everyone understands what is expected of them.
Keep Teammates Accountable
Some of the best teams I’ve played on were successful because teammates kept each other accountable. Teammates can hold one another accountable when completing off ice workouts, players not passing the puck, or players taking too-long shifts.
Of course, there is a proper way to approach and handle the situation. It doesn’t mean you have to yell at your teammates or call them out in front of the entire team. A simple one-on-one conversation could go, “hey buddy, your shifts are getting a little long, you should shorten them up so you’re fresh for the 3rd period”. Keeping teammates accountable does not have to be confrontational. It’s all about having open communication amongst the team.
No Rookie Treatment
Old school hockey culture created the rookie/veteran code, where veterans would have more power and authority over the younger players. It meant rookies had to pick up pucks after practice, load the bus, sit in a specific spot on the bus or wait until all the veterans got their plate of food before they could eat.
Times have changed, and it’s time hockey culture changes. If you’re one of the last skaters on the ice, help pick up pucks regardless of status. If you’re standing by the bus, help load it.
Basically, this comes down to, be a good person. Treat your teammates how you would want to be treated, and everyone will feel apart of the team.
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