Creatures of habit: That’s what many hockey players consider themselves when it comes to routine, preparation or even superstition in our beloved sport. So why not be creatures of good habits? Here’s a list of good hockey habits for all players this season and beyond.
Be on time. Show up to the rink at the coach’s designated time or earlier. Punctuality will help with preparation but also show responsibility and commitment to your team.
Ask questions. Don’t understand a drill? Confused about a game situation? Unsure about your role on the team? Ask the coaches. The coaches want players to ask questions.
Be positive and encouraging. Win or lose, maintaining a positive attitude is an important trait to have in life, on and off the ice. Everyone and every team faces adversity at some point. Learn to show character and encourage teammates during the tough games/practices as well as the good times.
Keep your mouthguard in. Mouthguards aren’t just there to keep your teeth intact. They also reduce the impact from contact to the head, which can also help prevent other injuries/fractures. Oh yeah – it’s also a penalty if the official sees it dangling around in your helmet.
NEVER hit high or from behind. The purpose of checking is to separate the player from the puck, not to injure someone. These types of dirty plays have no place in the game. You’ll soon find yourself suspended while letting your team down.
Keep your stick on the ice. Be prepared for that pass, rebound or loose puck. Keeping your stick on the ice will save reaction time and potentially cause a key turnover or score a big goal. Even better, have two hands on your stick and have it on the ice.
Take warm-ups seriously. Get loose, stretch, get comfortable on your edges and practice passing and shooting. Help your goaltender get a feel for the puck. A wasted warm-up could lead to a poor start.
Don’t admire your pass. Don’t just stand there and watch the puck after you pass it. Keep moving your feet and find open areas to help your team maintain possession and you will have a better chance of getting the puck back.
Do not complain to the officials. In most cases, arguing a call will only earn you more time in the penalty box. It is better to accept the call whether it is right or wrong and focus on moving forward.
Try every position. Learning every position will make you a better hockey player and help you understand more facets to the game. You also never know when the team might need you at a different position.
Pay attention on the bench. While it is important to use your time between shifts to rest and hydrate, you should be watching your teammates at the same time. That way you can learn from their mistakes and you will be ready to hit the ice for your next shift.
Keep your head up and on a swivel. Vision is key to good positioning, playmaking, anticipation and safety.
Clean up after yourself in the locker room. Try to leave everywhere you go better than you found it.
Don’t skate away from the net after taking a shot. That’s exactly where you want to be. That’s where rebounds come from and goals are scored. Once you skate away from the net, you take yourself out of the play.
Skate hard to the bench during line changes. Coasting off the ice isn’t fair to your teammates. Bad line changes can quickly turn into goals for the opposing team. Skate hard off the ice and communicate with the bench to make sure they are ready.
Always backcheck. If there’s a turnover or transition, skate hard all the way back to try and disrupt the opponent’s offensive rush. Backchecking helps prevent goals. Lazily skating back is disrespectful to teammates and could cost you the game.
Don’t celebrate every goal in a 10-0 game. Lopsided games happen. Show class whether you’re on either side of the win-loss column. Respect the game and it will respect you.
Communicate. Talk, talk, talk. Call for the puck. Let the defenseman know someone is chasing them for a loose puck in the corner. Goaltenders can help with team defense, breakouts and avoiding screens.
Listen to your coach. They know best. The coaches want what’s best for each player, and a player that doesn’t listen might suffer the consequences.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. In hockey and in life, we learn and develop the most through experiencing failure. Try new moves in practice. Fear can suck the fun out of the game – and fun is why we’re here.
Play outside. Take advantage of Minnesota’s frozen ponds, lakes and outdoor rinks for some fun, unstructured hockey with friends and neighbors. Pond hockey develops skills and a pure love of the game.