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AHU Coach’s Corner: What it means to truly call yourself a hockey player

 

coltenBeing a hockey player doesn’t mean just showing up to the rink.

It takes preparation, dedication, hard work, and a good attitude. A lot of parents ask me what it takes for their kid to get to the next level and I tell them all these things.

But in the end, it’s up to the kid.

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You can’t force a kid to get up every morning for a lesson and want to get better – that’s on the kid.

When a kid is having fun and getting better every day, then you know they want it. That takes dedication and a drive to be better than the kid next to you. The ones that are getting better are the ones that show dedication and love doing it every single day.

At a younger age, preparation isn’t as important because you can’t force an 8-year-old to eat right and work out to maintain endurance.

However, they can stick handle off the ice to prepare for a game. When you are older, you can prepare differently. You can make sure you are eating right and getting your eight hours of sleep every night. You can also get in the gym and make sure you are staying in shape so that way when the season goes into a grind, you can outlast your opponent.

Hard work is not for everyone, but it helps you become the best that you can be.

Not every kid is going to be good with the puck every single game – that is something you can’t necessarily control. That said, a kid can control how hard they work every single time they are on the ice. To me, this is the most underrated skill out there because it’s more of a mindset that not every kid learns about.

Talent can only get you so far.

The hardest workers make it the farthest, which is how they become great hockey players.

The hard work reflects your attitude. If you do not have a good attitude on and off the ice, there is a chance that you will not work hard.

Having a good attitude helps you when you are getting scouted and recruited as well. A lot of coaches can sense when a player has a bad attitude and most of the time, they won’t even bother.

Coaches look for kids with a good attitude so that way when they move them forward, they are sending another coach at a higher level a good character kid.

In the end, most of this can be taught, but the kid has to want to better themselves in order to have these attributes in their game. Once a kid works on these items, the hard work and preparation will become a fun part of the game and it won’t seem as if it is hard work at all.

Colten St. Clair is the head coach and general manager of the Phoenix Knights Tier II junior team in the Western States Hockey League and the skills coach for the Arizona Hockey Union.

(Dec. 9, 2017)