5 Skills You Need to Go "Pro" in Life
The off-season is a great time for players to look ahead to their upcoming seasons and envision what they want to bring to their game. For most players, this self-reflection probably never goes deeper than the typical “I want to be faster” or “I want to score more”. Both of those are great and I frequently talk to my players and clients about the importance of goal setting. There are plenty of those lists already available elsewhere. You can see some of our posts on skating and scoring. However, players who truly want to develop the foundations of a hockey career cannot neglect the intangible parts of their game.
As a player, I’ve competed against the best players in the world, I’ve also played alongside some of the greatest players in today’s game. Their skills as players are evident; every time we see a highlight reel it seems they're pulling off some 1-in-a-million move with regularity. The effortless maneuvers mask the truth. These players put in work, LOTS of it, and it's been that way for a LONG time.
Do you want to be a professional hockey player? Sure, but let’s phrase it another way. Do you want to push your body and mind to the absolute limit on a daily basis for a payday that might never come? Are you willing to make sacrifices in your personal life for the sake of gaining the smallest edge over your competition? Here’s a stat to consider:
1 in 100,000 – Heart Surgeons per Capita in the US 1 in 250,000 – NHL Contracts per Capita in the US
You have to beat out 249,999 people for your shot at an NHL contract. Want an easier road with less competition? Become a heart surgeon.
Now, this doesn't mean give up on your dreams, it just means be adequately prepared for the road ahead. Here (in no order) are some tools you’ll need to get there.
There are going to be speed-bumps along the way. Developing a consistent mental routine that you can install into your game will help when your game isn’t clicking. Check out Saul Miller’s book "Hockey Tough".
For every team you play for, from the first game you played to the last game of pro, there are people who helped make that happen. Sometimes that is a parent that brings snacks to the rink, sometimes it’s the security guard that works the door on game days. Always respect and befriend these people.
Embrace the Suck / Self-Discipline
If you’re going to make it to the top, you need to realize that there are going to be days that SUCK. Maybe it’s a workout, maybe it’s a cardio skate, maybe it’s saying no to a party, or maybe it is drinking water instead of soda. I first heard this phrase at Minnesota Wild Development camp, and the concept has stuck with me. There are going to be tough days, understand their role in your process.
Want a coach to trust you? Show them that you can put the same product on the ice every game and practice. Do you only skate hard once in a while? Do you prepare for some games and not others? Do you work as hard in practice as you do in games? Another aspect of consistency is trusting the process of your development. It means working on your skills, strength, and conditioning on a consistent basis, all in the name of making gradual improvements to your game.
This is an in-game skill that many player take years to develop. When you’re on the bench or on the game, there is no limit to how vocal you can be. If you’re a positive presence on the bench, your energy is infectious. When you’re playing, communicating effectively with your teammates helps tremendously. No matter what situation you are in, offensive, defensive, or special teams, you can always strive to be a better communicator.
By mastering these five tools, you’ll have a foundation on which you can build an excellent career, not just in hockey.
Go Get ‘Em,
Taylor Peters is the Owner of the Taylor Peters Hockey School in Portland, OR. He’s an ex-pro player turned full-time Power Skating and Skills Coach. He also does Coach/Player Consulting, Game Analysis, and Remote Coaching. Check out his Instagram page for drills and skill breakdowns. To contact Taylor, email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org