Hockey is one of the most popular sports around the world. There is no denying that. The Winter Olympics regularly draw large crowds and the World Cup is often considered to be one of the truly great sporting events. It’s not only the passion of the fans that makes hockey so appealing, but also the fact that it’s a sport that everyone can enjoy. Whether you’re a fan of one of the professional leagues (NHL, KHL, etc.) or you just want to indulge in some pickup hockey with your buddies, there is plenty to enjoy.
Even so, breaking out in hockey is a rarity. If you want to play at the highest levels possible, your best chance of making the grade is through junior hockey, where you have the opportunity to hone your skills and showcase your talent. Once you’ve proven yourself in junior hockey, the major leagues will beckon, but even then, you’ll face an overwhelmingly strong competition.
Fortunately, there are a number of pathways to breaking out in hockey. Even if you don’t fancy yourself as a traditional hockey player, there are still opportunities for you to shine. In fact, with a bit of luck and some excellent performances, you may even make it to the NHL one day.
The Basics Of Playing Hockey
To begin with, let’s make sure you know the basics of playing hockey. Like any other sport, hockey is all about having good fundamental playing skills. To that end, you’ll need to master a few simple tasks. Foremost amongst these is puck control. Learning how to stop the puck in its tracks will open up countless possibilities for you in the game. Not only will you be able to dictate the pace of the game, you’ll also avoid numerous breakaways and power plays that could otherwise hinder your team’s scoring opportunities.
Along with the puck, you’ll also need to be aware of your teammates. Being the captain of the team will undoubtedly give you a leadership role, but that doesn’t mean you have to be the loudest or the most vocal of the bunch. Instead, you can take pride in being a great leader by being the most efficient player on the ice. Watching your back in defense of your teammates and the puck will also help your case for inclusion in the NHL.
How To Become A More Effective Leader
In the previous section, we discussed how you can break out in hockey. One of the skills that will set you apart is your ability to lead. Naturally, you’ll assume a more vocal role on the ice once you’ve proven yourself there, but you have to be mindful not to overshadow your teammates. Your primary focus should be on putting your team in the best position to succeed; loudness and unbridled enthusiasm should be reserved for the locker room between the games.
Aside from leading by example on the pitch, you can also take this opportunity to teach your teammates new things. Whether it’s something as basic as stopping the puck or creating offense out of nothing, you’re the man for the job. If one of your teammates is struggling with, say, shooting the puck, you can be certain that you’ll be asked to help out. Being a good teacher means being able to relate your knowledge to others and helping them see the benefits of sticking to a practice routine. In terms of breaking out in hockey, this could mean spending more time working on your shooting or face-offs.
Wherever You Go, There You Will Always Be An Away Game
The simple fact is that no matter where you go, there you will always be an away game. This is something to be mindful of as a professional hockey player. The best scenario is that you have a great relationship with the coach and the manager of the club. Under normal circumstances, they will have no problem letting you play your game wherever and whenever you want. This will give you the opportunity to showcase your talent in front of as many people as possible. In an ideal world, this will lead to you breaking out in hockey and making the jump to the professional leagues. In that case, the away game phenomenon won’t even be a consideration.
On the other hand, if the relationship with the coach and the manager is strained, you may find that you are restricted in where and when you can play. In this case, your best bet is to secure the services of a professional scout. A scout’s role is to identify and evaluate talent. This is what they do for a living and it’s something that they will do for you, the player. Before long, you’ll be taking the ice in front of fans who aren’t used to seeing that color blue on their television screen. This is bound to create some interesting situations. Still, you should be grateful for the opportunity to play in front of such a large crowd. In terms of making the jump to the NHL, this will be a good thing for your development.
Where Do You Play Matters
As we’ve established, wherever you go, there you will always be an away game. Naturally, this will be more apparent in the NHL than in the WHL. In the NHL, the best players shine through and stand out. As a result, you’ll see top tier players on television screens across the globe. If you want to stand a chance at making it to the NHL, your best bet is to secure a place in one of the major junior leagues. The difference in caliber between the junior and the professional leagues is enough to put you on a different playing field. Even then, your best chance of making the grade is to secure a place in one of the big three professional leagues (NHL, KHL, and the recently added CSKA). Playing in the lesser leagues won’t even be considered. Similarly, if you want to make the jump to the AHL or the ECHL, this is also not an option. Your play will consist of nothing more than a glorified youth tournament and there is no way you’ll be able to sustain a top level performance in these leagues. Your only choice is to head to the NHL or one of the other top tier leagues mentioned above.
The Importance Of Mental Fortitude
As a hockey player, your mental fortitude will be your greatest asset. To put it bluntly, you will never amount to much as a player if you don’t have the mental makeup to back it up. If you want to succeed in hockey, you need to be confident enough in your abilities to believe that you will. In order to achieve this, you need to be willing to put in the work and develop the necessary skills. Naturally, this will mean that you have to be humble enough to accept feedback and open-minded enough to learn new things. Confidence and humility are extremely important qualities in a hockey player. To borrow a phrase, you can’t have too much of either. It’s the perfect combination.
To this end, make sure that you surround yourself with good people. This is someone you can trust and with whom you can share your experiences and develop relationships. Ultimately, this is what will help you achieve your goals. When you surround yourself with positive people, it becomes much easier to maintain a positive attitude. In terms of developing your mental fortitude, this means spending time with people who are better than you and who have more experience. Naturally, this will include people who play the game. Still, it also means spending time with your family and friends. Having people you can trust and rely on when times are good is very important, especially if you want to keep your sanity. In the end, nothing feels better than looking back on a day that you spent with your friends, family, and colleagues. The experience will be remembered for the fun and the friendships made. As for the game itself, it will be remembered as the learning experience that helped you find your talent and made you a better person.