Every player with the right amount of practice can learn to skate fast and shoot powerful, but what separates good players from great players is attention to the little things that makes the biggest difference.
Already from early ages most hockey players goal is to raise in the ranks, become a great player and ultimately play at the highest level. Wether it's NHL or NWHL you gotta things don’t happen over night.
To reach this level it takes years and years of certain habits, discipline and proper work ethics. Of course you need to work on your speed and overall strength, but here are five habits that all players should focus on in hopes of taking their game to the next level.
Good body position is crucial to your success and the more you work on it the quicker it will become habitual and it’ll come naturally without you even thinking about it. To guide you into the right direction, here are some tips on how to stay aware and ready to react to different situation on the ice:
- Stick on the ice (decrees your reaction time)
- Keep your head up
- Proper hockey stands (bend your knees and keep your feet hip-width apart)
Good body position also refers to where you are on the ice, how you open up and make yourself available or blocking the puck with your body, so even when you are not playing with the puck you are still an asset on the ice and can affect the play best to your abilities!
As we are talking about bodies, it's important to mention body language. Just this one simple thing can tell you a lot about how that athlete is performing, if you pay close attention to an athlete’s body.
“Body language is a form of nonverbal communication where thoughts, feelings, and intentions are expressed by physical actions.“
Body language shows how you react on and deal with mistakes or successes. Good players have good body language, most of the time anyways.. we are not robots, but it's important to stick to the good habits,
When you make a mistake you can’t hold on to it long, but figure out what to do to fix it and learn from it! Because if you will get down on yourself more mistakes will come.
Every hockey player has heard the phrase “move your feet” at least once in their carrier no matter the length of it or the skill level you’re at. Plain and simple, you should never stop moving your feet once you’re on the ice.
Hockey is a very fast game which means that if you are not moving your feet you can miss opportunities and wont have an objective to the play compared to the players who are moving their feet!
Always being in a constant movement will allow you to react to the play quicker and help your team earn more opportunities to succeed.
You should always be communication as effectively as possible especially on the ice but also on the bench. Because of the speed of this game the reaction time can make a huge difference, but with the help of your teammates the reaction time can be even shorter.
Call for the puck, if you see an opportunity for one of your teammates, call it out to them. If you notice one of your teammates is out of position or making any sort of mistake, let them know.
Many players aren’t used to communication on the ice and doesn’t feel comfortable doing it, but it's something everyone should be working on just like other things like speed, strength and such.
ALWAYS THINK THROUGH A PLAY
One of the all time greatest - Wayne Gretzky, said “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” This quote implicates the constant movement and analyzation of the game while you’re in it.
Thinking ahead is a skill every great player has and it's what every player should work on because that's one of the biggest things that will differ you from an average player.
Before rushing with the puck make a check, position yourself elsewhere on the ice and make these decisions quick. Always staying aware and thinking through the game will allow you to do so plus it will help you avoid costly mistakes like being out of position and granting the opposing team an opportunity to advance the puck and score.
HEALTHY BODY & HEALTHY MIND
Great athletes know that they need to take care of their bodies to be successful. More or less proper diets and getting a good sleep and the proper hours is very important for your body to recharge and be ready to put in a good work every day.
Having a good diet doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to search for actual diet plans and stick to one. To have a good diet it can be enough to just make sure you are eating healthy and fueling your body with the necessary nutritions and vitamins.
Work smarter not harder. That is something every athlete needs to keep in mind. Of course everyone wants to be the best and put in as much work as they can, but without a good balance between working and resting you will burn out before reaching your goals.
As silly as it might sound to some, our body and mind is like a temple and if one of those things aren’t aligned we start to feel “off”.
Mental health is just as important as physical. More and more people are starting to open up about their struggles and have started a conversation which is starting to normalize mental health issues.
Some people still don’t pay too much attention to this, but it is important to take care of your mental health. Take your mind off of everyday stress by meditating and grounding yourself or simply just going for as short as a 10 minute walk to relax your mind.
This might seem like a lot to pay attention to but start by just focusing on one till it becomes habitual and then move your focus to the next one.
Keep your body and mind healthy and you will see the difference it makes not only in your career but also your day-to-day life.