A - AAA in 12 months

So yo want to get better. You want to play on a better team and develop.

Well, here’s how you do it.

Hard work.

Now you can go to the rink twice a rink work hard for an hour and think that’s the hard work we talk about.

Well you’ll be mistaken.

If you really want to develop you are committed and consistent.

A week of intense training can be a great catalyst but it isn’t necessarily sustainable. You have to commit to every facet of training: Nutrition, movement, training, mindset and recovery.

So, here’s how you develop with the same amount of ice time and without any private coaching. You commit and you are consistent.

Every day doesn’t mean every day skating. It means what are you going to do on each day to better yourself.

Wake up 15mins earlier to stretch and move.
Hydrate properly.
Foam roll after each session.
Study clips.
Work on your weak side.
Be intentional with everything.

Each athlete that I work with who want to fulfil their potential have a common behaviour.

They listen, the interpret and they apply.

One Season Ends...

The end of the season.

It comes by so fast and it sucks. I remember playing and sitting in my stall thinking the same thing as everyone else. “Why?”

In the dog days of winter you can lose sight of what’s really important. The rink can seem like a chore. But, then comes the end. You look around the locker room and realise the great experiences and memories that were made. The group of individuals that became a family.

You don’t want it to end.

It’s about this time when you remember what it is really about.

It’s always about the person sitting either side of you.
Because, hockey is family.

D - D

Supporting your defensive partner is important for on ice success. You should always be close to your partner to give them an outlet when they are regrouping.

The D - D pass is therefore crucial.

It takes pressure off.

It changes the direction of the play.

It opens up space.

It can slow things down or speed them up.

It’s a skill that’s reliant on individual skill sets, communication and teamwork.

Now to master this skill you have to develop a high level of trust and understanding with your team. You have to rely on them to be in their position to make the pass. To be able to handle the puck and move up the ice.

But, by going D - D you see the entirety of the ice. You are able to make a smart play. Maintain possession and enter the zone with a quality chance of scoring.

Just like business, life, school and relationships. When you need an outlet you have to be able to count on your team mates to share the load. To be in the play and assess the options by seeing the entirety of the situation.

Take a step back.

Head up.

Open up.

Share and move forward.

Winning Mentality

There’s a fine line with being confident and being arrogant.

Personally I think it becomes someone else’s interpretation of your character that justifies the label.

However, if you back it up with consistency you are let of the hook.
You’re confident.

There is nothing wrong with telling yourself that you will win. That you will bounce back. Just because you lost against this team the last time; it doesn’t mean that the same outcome will happen again.

Hockey has momentum swings at every turn. It doesn’t make a difference who you are or what your last game was. All that matters is that the next game is your best game.

You can control your mindset leading into the game. You can block out the last defeat. You can’t think about the mistakes.

You have to be consciously mindful to eliminate these thoughts from your thought processes.

Because, if you tell yourself you will win.

You will.

Head Up

If your head is down in hockey there is a very high chance that you will get caught.

“He was caught with his head down”

“He was admiring his pass”

You aren’t looking and you’ll be hit. You will be in the train tracks and someone will line you up. This is a sure fire way to lose confidence, get hurt and ultimately dimish your ice time.

You have to keep your head up.

Constantly scanning and looking for outlets. Looking for incoming players and making smart decisions.

But, above all to protect yourself.

Just as in business or life, it’s important to have your head up. You have to wary about any threats or moreover opportunities to capitalize on.

Look up to stay up.
Look down to fall down.

Quick Start

The official size of an NHL ice rink is 26m x 61m.

That means you don’t have an awful lot of space out there. Add in the fact that there are nine other players, four referees and two goalies (all usually 6ft+) means you have not much space at all.

You have be quick. You don’t have the time to get those long strides in. It’s about being first. If you aren’t first, you aren’t getting the puck. It’s about speed.

You don’t have time in a game of hockey to build your way into it. There isn’t a runway to get to top speed. You have to get to that speed as fast as you can.

You have to have a quick start.

You have to practice this quick start over and over again. It isn’t something you can just do right off the bat.

When you were born your first steps were celebrated. They were the most important of your life.

In hockey it’s the same. Your first steps are all that counts.

Puck Protection

If you have the puck, they don’t have it.
If they don’t have it, they can’t score.

It’s a simple trait that hockey players struggle to master. They are likely to make an irrational play to give up the puck.

To protect the puck you have understand body positioning. How to keep the puck out of the reach of the opponent by adjusting your body. You must be between the opponent and the puck. You can’t just stick handle. You have to get a little gritty.

You will get hit.

But, you will ride the hit. You will maintain possession. You adjust to hold on. You don’t let go.

Like life it’s about protecting you art or craft. People will come at you and try to take you down.

So you adjust and ride it out.

Because, if they don’t have the puck they can’t score.

PINCHIN’ IN

In hockey when a player (usually a defenseman) gambles and skates lower into the zone in the hope to add to the offence.

However, the probelem with doing this is that if the puck is chipped by you, you are beat and it’s 2-1 or a 1-0 breakaway going the other way.

But, the upside is that if you pinch you can generate the offence out of nothing.

You gamble.

When you are up and leading the game your coach will say: “ No pinching!”

Why? Because, we are conserving. Holding on.

However, when you are down you start pinching more. Ignoring your defensive responsibility and going all in.

You have nothing to lose. You’re already down.

But, this is the tricky part - knowing the times to pinch. The first or even early second period aren’t always the best times. There is a lot of hockey left to be played.

So, like life you have to pick you times to go all in. Times to bet on yourself and go in. Times to not care for the setback but calculate the upside. There are times you are up or need to conserve to protect your goaltender or family.

But, then there are times when you are down.

So pinch a little.

You can control, what you can control.

We get vested into controlling the things and times that are outside our of ability to impact.

We try so hard to control the little things. To control how people react or respond to certain things.

I was sent this piece by someone recently that sums up a lot - it was by Joe Torre of the Yankees.

”Control what you can, let go of the rest. When you control what you can, you know you’ve done everything possible to succeed. That means hard work, total commitment, painstaking preparation, and squeezing every ounce of ability from yourself.

When you let go of the rest, you stop torturing yourself over every defeat. (People in sports or business who assumer they have absolute control over their professional lives will doubt their abilities the moment things don’t work out as planned). Reality check: You don’t control all of the conditions that make it possible for you to be a winner. Every time you experience a failure ask yourself two sets of questions:

Did the failure involve some lapse of judgement, concentration, or hard work on my part? If so, how can I improve next time? Did the failure involve a factor over which I have no control? If so, can I recognise this and quit blaming myself?

Use the first set of questions to take responsibility for mistakes and learn from them. Use the second set of questions to identify areas where you have no control, and to stop wrestling with yourself over them. I recommend that as an executive, manager, or employee, you create your own lists of factors you can control and ones you cannot.”

This goes the same for Hockey, sports and life. You work hard, do your job and control the only thing you can.

Effort.

Form is temporary, class is permanent.

People are becoming very short sighted. They are only seeing the last game, or maybe the last four games. (That’s only a couple of weeks really).

They aren’t seeing the past capabilities.

The capabilities that got them to a certain point. Those character traits that set them in good stead to achieve their accomplishments.

Anyone can have a good game. Literally anyone.

But, consistent pursuit of excellence and output builds class.

Class is what you’ll be known for when it’s all said and done. It’s class that will separate you from everyone else.

Now, class isn’t measured by the trophies in your cabinet.

It’s measured by the times you show up when you don’t want to.

It’s measured by the times you make the simple play.

It’s measured by your actions away from the game.

It’s measured by your preparation.

So just because you’ve hit a rough spot and people start to talk about your ability. Just remember.

Form is temporary, class is permanent.

Gaining the red.

Dump n Chase requires you to 'gain the red'. 

This moves hauling your ass to the red line and putting the puck into their zone. Simple. 

You can’t just give up, and throw the puck down. Because, now you are back in your own zone gasping for air and not allowed to change.

A prisoner in your own zone.

But, if you gritted your teeth and applied the second effort you wouldn’t be sucking wind. Your team wouldn’t be at a disadvantage.

Yeah, you may have given away possession but the play is now the farthest away from your goal.

We give up far to easily. We don’t even reach for that second effort. We sometimes make this same mistake over and over again.

We don’t believe we can do it. We just admit defeat.

But, by admitting defeat (and icing the puck) we aren’t solving the problem. We are still penned in and unable to change.

So, grit your teeth. Skate that extra stride.
And gain the red.

What is Power Skating?

You see buzz words about power skating being used all the time by coaches. Power Skating clinics, classes and drills.

Why?

Well, because ‘skating lesson’ doesn’t sound as exciting when selling the services to the player or parent.

However, we are doing more harm than good by branding every ‘skill’ session as these power skating clinics.

Yes, the game is all about skating now and trending in that direction. It always has been.

But, ‘power’ is simply force * displacement over time.

In little words, 6yr old Johny isn’t going to benefit from ‘power skating’ when there is a) no force and b) there is lack of revolutions (time/speed/quickness)

A problem I am seeing is that the athletes are not spending adequate time away from the rink to work with an athletic trainer (a proper trainer who understands loading and the mechanics of movement). Instead they are basically going to camps to be looked after and not to enhance their hockey. This isn’t a jab at the coaches delivering these sessions. It’s catch 22.

But by working with an athletic trainer or within your program it is imperative that athletes understand how to recruit their loading muscles and can contract the correct groups. After fine tuning their off-ice movements, it is then ideal to work on edge work, posture and transitions.

So please stop calling it power skating.

It simply isn’t.


You don't have to have the 'C' to lead.

Last season I took over at Bantam Minor team mid-season.

The team was completely new to me and I didn’t know any other the players.

A large majority of the team were also new to the sport and had only played house league the year prior.

There was one individual who embodied the role of a leader. He set the tone and was mature beyond his years.

He was a natural.

However, there were a few other players who had some traits of a leader but needed to be reminded to lead and set the example in some way. They needed something to keep them doing those good things - so I handed them a letter.

Now a few months past and down the line I am talking to the player who didn’t get a letter but was in essence the captain. I explained to him that you don’t need a letter to be a leader, you already are one. You don’t need recognition for something you do, day in day out.

He explained how notably he was annoyed when he didn’t get a letter but now he’s learnt a teaching point. He doesn’t need a title to step up to the plate. He doesn’t need to be a manager or VP in a business to set the tone. He doesn’t. He can take the initiative at all times because he knows he doesn’t need a position to raise the bar.

He can just bring it every single time.

The code.

In hockey there is a thing called the code. 
It isn't written down anywhere and no one ever teaches it to you. 

You aren't taught it by your coach. But, the game itself. 

You see those big fights on YouTube. They are a result of the code being crossed. 

The code is simple. You abide by it. 
If you don't you get a chop. A slash and usually a black eye. 

It's honest. 

One thing the code hates. A big no-no and the biggest crime of all is a hit from behind. 

If you see the opponents jersey numbers. Stop. 
In Canada at youth level they even have a stop sign on the jerseys. 

Smart. 

But, unlike business the code is respected. 

In the world of business the code isn't respected. 
Because, everyone must win. So, you must lose. 

They will do whatever it takes to win. They will play foul. They will dupe their customers. They will discriminate. 

There is no code. 
No one is keeping it honest. 

Time to start giving out chops in boardrooms. 

Take the hit to make the play.

Any defensemen will tell you that making the play is the most important part of the breakout.
9/10 you will get hit when breaking out.
The forechecking forward will take the body. 

It’s drilled into them.
These hits hurt.
No one wants to get hit.
But, to make the play you have to take the hit.


You learn how to take these hits.
You learn how to position your body.
You learn how to throw in a head fake.
You learn how to use the glass to see the reflections.
You learn how to communicate with your partner. 

So much of corporate life is about taking more.
You must level up. Get that new title and move up the ranks. Get more money. Take, take, take. 

Such is life.

We must all be improving.
We must be winning.
In order to win, usually someone has to lose.

Such is capitalism.

But, what if more of us took the hit.
We defended an idea for a colleague. 
We didn't allow sexism to take place. 
We didn't allow colleagues to undermine one another. 
We didn't allow safe. 

We took the hit to make the play.

Someone else will level up. 
Someone else will get their deserved position. 
Someone else will win.

A teammate will score. 

In hockey an assist and a goal are awarded the same amount of points in the stats column.

Take the hit to make the play.

Dump n Chase.

Sometimes the smart option is to give up possession.
You gain the red but you’re getting squeezed out.
The only option you have is to dump it in.
You put it in the corner. 

This isn’t about giving up possession.
This is about creating options.
After the dump you go after it.
You go all in. 

Now the play is in their zone.

They have to make the play to get out of it.
Suddenly they are defending.
If they screw up, it’s in the back of their net.


Similar to business.
You have to give up the possession.
You have to put it in their corner. 
You have to chase after it. 

When you do this good things happen.
You wear them down, 
You make them panic, 
You go on the offence.

You score. 


Dump n Chase.

Glass n Out

In Hockey we have this saying: Glass n Out.

What this means is that if you have literally no other option you bank it off the glass and get it out. 

You don’t fan on it. You don’t put it up the middle.
You don’t look for the pass.
You grip your stick hard like a M*ther F*cker

and,
You Glass n Out.

 

Usually this goes for an icing.
Which is good and bad.
They could get a change, fresh legs and pin you back in your own zone. 
You might get scored on. 

 

But, what it allows you is time.
Time to regather and regroup. 
To take a breather and take stock.
You aren’t running around frantically in your own zone. 

 

You now have options. 
 

This is like life.
When you are running around with pressure from work, family and society you can feel under the knife with no option. 

 

Glass n Out. 

ICE LESSONS: Puck Luck

In hockey we have this saying:

"Puck Luck".

It doesn't make too much sense to the naked eye but to a hockey player you understand it straight away.

Puck Luck can either be on your side or against you. You may be outshot and win 2-1. The opposition may hit the posts multiple times in a game. The puck may bounce off the board in awkward way and fall right on to your stick. 

This is puck luck. 

Sometimes you have it. Sometimes you don't. 

You are can never tell when you'll have it. 

But, you have to believe in the process. Hard work and the right things get the just rewards. You keep doing the right things and you'll have puck luck. 

If you cheat it, ever, you'll never have puck luck. 

Would I sponsor a UK Hockey Team?

I should be saying, Yes. 

But,

This question is one that I can analyse from my knowledge of marketing, PR, sponsorship and advertising. 

What is the ROI of sponsoring a UK hockey team?

Say you are a title sponsor of a second tier team. 
You pay £30,000 a year to have your organisation to be affiliated with the team. You pay to have your logo co-exist with the team and probably have the logo on distribution outlets (Match day program, teams website, ice painting, rink boarding etc). 

So you've just paid £30,000 which could also be the salary of a new member of staff. 

The team you sponsor doesn't win a single trophy this season and come mid-table.

You aren't affiliated with winning. 

Now you are a small recycling company that only operates in one town. The appeal of the lucrative 'national coverage' doesn't really work for your company. 

The only real connection you have with the team is the cheque they cashed from your bank account. 

So, what's the appeal and attraction? What's the ROI?

Brand salience (recall) is argued as one of the major reasons why brands sponsor events, organisations and companies. In sports the major reason at the top level is to align a brand to a 'winner'. 

Nike isn't sponsoring the world #389 on the tennis circuit. They just aren't. 

The money you spent on the sponsorship could then be used instead to target via digital means your core customer. 

Or you could look towards the influencer market. 

Do UK hockey teams have an influence on the consumer day to day decisions? 

If Robert Dowd say's he uses 'X' product does that correlate to increase in sales for the brand of said product. 

So as a brand looking to invest my money I would evaluate my options. But, I would increase my expenditure in the sport. If they are held to metrics and KPI's.

I'd pay £50,000 as a car dealership. But, I would want the star players to work for me one day a month. I'd use this day to build up hype. 

I'm sure fans would rather buy their new car off their favourite player than a 'sleazy car salesman'. 

For £50,000 I may sell an extra 6-10 cars (1 day a month over the season). I then don't have to pay any commission as the sale was generated through the player (more profit). So my £50,000 outlay has already worked it's way back. 

Win. 

But, first Hockey has to want to do more. 

They have to work harder. 

Each rink board has to be filled. But, they have to provide upfront value first. 

Because, as a brand I have the key. I have the money they desperately need and the puck is firmly in my rink. 

ICE LESSONS: Work-Ethic

Work Ethic

noun

  1. the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward.

Ever bag skated? 

So, this goes with a lot of sports but from my experience work-ethic is the one thing that is always noticed. You may see a player with unreal skills but you'll also notice their work ethic. You notice how hard or in some cases how they aren't working. 

From my time in Hockey very early on we had two Junior coaches that spring to mind that instilled hard work: Fred Perlini and Barry Russell. Fred played in the NHL for the Leafs and Barry is a very successful lawyer. Both Canadian roots and both fascinating hockey brains. But, they instilled hard work from the get-go. 

One hard lap. 

After each drill, we'd whistle down and the coach would call a hard lap. Some coaches do this just as routine, but back then they watched who was and who wasn't skating hard. If one person didn't skate hard the whole team was going again. 

This happened every practice. This translated into the rest of the drills and lead to on-ice success. It was the work-ethic instilled. 

In hockey there is no easy victories. The game demands a lot. But, every night you must bring your work-ethic. You can't go through the motions. You get found out. 

There's no place to hide on the ice. In business you can sometimes coast due to the size and nature of the organisation. But, in hockey you can't. The only time you are hiding is if you are on the bench or a healthy scratch.

So, the value and rewards for work-ethic are there to be seen. 

The worst thing in the world for a hockey player is to be described as lazy. 

Because, the lazy players are the first to get cut.