To me, reaching your hockey potential has nothing to do with being an NHL All-Star. It’s not about how many goals you get, or even what team you play for.
I believe reaching your hockey potential means that you’re refusing to live small. It’s about refusing to be average. It’s about how you show up.
A hockey player who is truly seeking to reach their potential is an action-taker dedicated to pursuing the sport of hockey with raw tenacity. You’ll know you’re doing what it takes to achieve your hockey potential when you’re consistently stepping outside of your comfort zone and betting on yourself even when the odds are stacked against you.
The mindset required to reach your hockey potential involves being in the present moment and engaging only with the priority at hand. It’s about being open to new experiences, taking calculated risks, pushing beyond your comfort zone, and getting off the sidelines in life.
The bottom line is that you have two ways to live this life: you can accept that an average effort will get an average result, or, you can refuse to be average and go all-in on reaching your hockey potential.
Close your eyes for a moment. What does reaching your hockey potential look like to you on the ice? in the gym? with your career? with your friends? with your family? with your everyday routine?
The ten principles I will outline in this article will help you achieve everything you just envisioned. Implement these principles based on what your honest opinion of yourself reveals to be the highest urgency.
#1: Become an Action-Taker
In hockey, there are two kinds of people: spectators and players.
Spectators are afraid to do what it takes to reach their potential. Paralyzed by their own fear and the humiliation of failure, they sit on the sidelines watching and criticizing players.
Players get in the game. They’re not afraid to fail, they’re not worried about what the sideliners are thinking, and they aren’t bothered by how many times they have to try something until they get it right.
Players make things happen. Sometimes they miss, other times they score.
I want you to stop thinking about being a player just on the ice and start thinking about being a player in real life. Taking action every day regardless of what the spectators around you think.
Taking action can look very different from one hockey player to the next. For one, it might mean getting off of social media and doing a hockey workout. For another, it might mean meal prepping more often and avoiding junk food. Heck, lots of times it’s just simply about getting out of your own way and signing up for those tryouts no matter how nervous it makes you.
You can get ahead of people more talented than you simply by outworking them and taking more action.
Stop trying and start doing. Procrastination is the #1 killer of hockey dreams.
#2: Learn by Doing Things Yourself
Want to know what works best for you?
Your results are the answer.
Run hockey training programs and diets consistently and accurately as you work toward your goals. If you got the result you wanted, you now know a methodology that works for you. If you didn’t get the result you wanted, you now know something you can possibly avoid moving forward. Either way, you learned something new to become better tuned in with your body so your training can be more effective.
However, you will never learn this valuable information if you keep bouncing from one program to the next and not tracking your results over time. This will statistically keep you in the dark because random programming yields random results.
Learn by doing, not debating. Everybody’s physiology is different and you will learn to craft the perfect schedule for yourself over time, as the results will never lie.
#3: Boost Your Hockey Knowledge
Never stop learning, because hockey never stops teaching.
The more you know, the more you grow. This holds true because the more you learn, the more value you will be able to add to your daily routines and rituals. Additionally, your acquired knowledge will also benefit teammates around you once they see your success, and ultimately your entire team will improve as a unit.
Use any moment you can while you’re not training to study and improve your hockey knowledge. (FYI, I have recorded hundreds of videos and podcasts you can review and have done dozens of hours of Q&A on social media, as well as written over 100 articles that you can read through.)
The knowledge out there on the sport of hockey is limitless. If you approach learning with humility and have the maturity to receive feedback, then nothing can stop you.
Knowledge is power because it allows you to avoid the plateau-creating landmines that every other hockey player keeps stepping on. This will put you one step ahead of the pack every single time.
#4: Invest in Your Hockey Development
Whatever your current goal is in hockey, you can’t do it on your own.
Hockey-specific diets build muscle and lose fat.
Professional training programs deliver real and consistent results.
Skills coaches multiply your technical ability on the ice.
If you try to do all of this on your own through trial and error, you’re going to have to live an extra 100 years to have the time to reap the benefits that you could experience in a fraction of the time by investing in yourself by hiring the right experts.
It blows my mind when a hockey player says their #1 dream in life is to reach their hockey potential, yet they aren’t willing to spend any money at all toward realizing that dream. This is completely illogical.
Investing in yourself can come in a variety of forms; however, the trinity of hockey potential is in your nutrition, training, and skill development.
Let me give you a challenge: pick one diet, training program, and skills development program you’re going to fully invest in over the next six months.
Once you get clarity on which investments to make, you’re going to have a plan to follow. This will get you access to things that other hockey players take three, five, or ten years to learn on their own. Investing in yourself pays back in spades because it puts you on the fast track to success.
For example, I have been in the hockey training industry for over a decade and have worked with thousands of hockey players, from the youth leagues all the way up to the NHL. I have over 20 certifications in training and nutrition, and I research sports science for several hours every single day.
You can spend the next ten years trying to do the same thing I did—or, you can simply head over to our hockey training programs page and immediately leverage all of my experience so you can learn what I learned in a fraction of the time.
If you’re like most hockey players I meet, I’m betting you already know you need to invest in yourself, so the question I have for you is: are you investing enough?
This higher-level investment is what leapfrogs you ahead. Pay the price today and reap all the rewards tomorrow.
#5: Assemble Your Hockey Performance Circle
In 2009, myself and four close buddies from my college all had identical interests. Our singular goal was for all five of us to graduate with honors and earn our strength and conditioning certification at the exact same time.
We established a spirit of camaraderie, accountability, and competitiveness that helped us push ourselves and each other toward the goal.
Imagine if you committed with four buddies (or even just one) to reach one hockey goal at the same time together. With all of you at the gym at the same time, all knowing you’re working toward the same aim, do you think you’d get the best gains of your life?
Absolutely you would! When you have a performance circle backing you and motivating you, your results are going to be on an entirely different level.
The real secret to achieving a hockey goal is staying motivated and never quitting. That’s it. It’s not a magic pill, secret recipe, new technique, or amazing genetics. It’s just never, ever quitting. Your performance circle never lets you quit; they stay with you and push you toward the end result.
Your hockey performance circle should consist of a blend of one to four hockey players who are like-minded, at or above your level, and heading in the exact same direction as you. This is why we created the Hockey Community—we recognize your mission and are ready to support you every step of the way.
One of the greatest determiners of your hockey success is going to be the company you keep. Just like a bad environment can tear you down, the right environment will build you up and make you unstoppable.
If you have a big vision for your life, the first thing you need to do is eliminate all the people who have nothing to do with that vision, and start including all the people that do. Much easier said than done, sure. But, it has to be done.
#6: Put Your Team First
Even though I want you to get more ice time and reach your goals at the fastest rate possible, the most efficient way to do this is by always doing what’s best for the team as a whole rather than just what’s best for yourself.
The team is always the number one priority.
Even when you feel like you’re unfairly stuck on the bench, you should be cheering loudly for your teammates during the game. Be the first to rush over and help a teammate after they’ve been checked. If it’s a 2-on-1 and your teammate has a better chance of scoring, don’t be a hero and try to take the shot yourself.
By making your teammates better, you will make yourself better.
The player who is more worried about their individual stats than the success of the team will never get the ice time they feel is justified for them, and when you don’t get this ice time (or even worse, your coach begins to dislike you), you will never reach your hockey potential.
Build others up and treat them the way you would want to be treated.
#7: Embrace the Pain
I’m not here to lie to you: reaching your potential is a tough, painful process. If you’re not passionate about hockey, then it will eat you alive.
Change is constant. There is no such thing as staying the same when you’re trying to be the best hockey player you can be. You’re either growing or dying.
Growth is uncomfortable, so when you find yourself very comfortable in your routine, that’s a sign you’re going backward.
When you are continually looking for ways to grow and find new challenges, that means you’re on the right path, because you’re being intentional with your daily activities. When life seems hard and new challenges pop up before you can handle the old ones, that’s a sign you’re on the right path, because you’re being tested.
This relates to every area of hockey.
It’s gotta hurt. You’re not going to grow if it doesn’t hurt, because doing the things you feel comfortable doing have gotten you where you are, and what got you to where you are will not take you to where you’re going.
Don’t let the discomfort of change and growth stop you and have you run back to what’s familiar and comfortable. Use this uncomfortable energy as a catalyst for action—then as soon as you start feeling comfortable at this new level, look for the next challenge.
You are in this sport to grow, mature, and keep moving forward, so discomfort is a good thing. Embrace it. Become comfortable being uncomfortable. If you don’t put any blood in the game, you may improve but you’ll never reach your true potential.
#8: Communicate with the Coach
Sitting back and assuming the reasons why you’re not getting ice time is a big mistake.
Instead, you should set up a meeting with the coach or just simply ask them for a few minutes of their time before or after practice (for bonus points, ask them when the most convenient time for them is).
This can be a tough conversation depending on the attitude of your coach and what their opinions are on the game. But coaches should always be open to discussing playing time with their players (and the player’s parents), as long as it’s done appropriately. (Some coaches may refuse to have discussions about playing time, and it’s my opinion that this is doing the entire team a major disservice.)
But, do remember that this is a two-way conversation. Players and parents must be prepared to accept what they might not like to hear.
It’s extremely important that the questions you or your parents ask aren’t coming across as aggressive or condescending. Don’t speak with an angry tone and remember that your body language is speaking just as loudly as your words.
With that said, here are a handful of questions I think would be a great idea to ask:
- What should I improve on?
- What could I do off the ice to become a better player?
- What can I do to help the team?
- What’s holding me back from getting more ice time?
- What do you think my strengths and weaknesses are as a player?
The worst thing you can do is argue the answers you receive. Take the answers on board even if you disagree with them, and do whatever you can to improve your current standing on the team.
Setting up this conversation, remaining level-headed, and asking these questions will prove to the coach that you want to help the team and that you are committed to becoming a better hockey player.
No matter how uncomfortable this conversation may seem to you, it’s important to get it out of the way, because the only thing worse is remaining completely in the dark about why you aren’t seeing the ice time you think you deserve.
#9: Structure and Systems
The most productive people are masters of daily structure. Everything has a schedule.
First, look at the things you have less control of, such as your class or work schedule. Then, structure your days and weeks around that reality so you can create a sustainable and realistic action plan toward goal achievement.
This goes for the big things and the small things. You structure what day and time you do your laundry, when you go to the grocery store, when you study, when you do your skill work, when you train, when you meal prep, when you allow yourself “me time” to do whatever you want, and everything in between.
The take-home point here is that general structure leads to specific structure. You need to start somewhere, and when you do, your life becomes ten times easier because a predictable and productive day is an enjoyable day.
By contrast, it naturally makes your goals easier to achieve as well, because the actions required to become who you want to be aren’t driven by motivation, but instead by consistent daily actions structured realistically into your routine.
Just like your workouts should be structured to get the best possible results, your day, meal times, and daily routines should be structured, because elite performance is a full-time job you need to be accountable to if you’re serious about becoming a killer hockey player.
Real and authentic structure is how you clear the path of any obstacles that may stand in your way.
#10: Bullet-Proof Hockey Mindset
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” This quote by Aristotle is one of the most powerful messages I have ever come across.
Making excellence a habit in your mind and then in your actions is a game plan that will never fail you. Once excellence becomes a habit, performing well in hockey is something that will just flow and come to you naturally, rather than you needing to chase it.
Habits create ease and simplicity because you never have to think about something that is habitual. Therefore, continual excellence creates a calm yet calculated hockey performance.
There is a visually apparent “calm in the storm” that the all-time greatest hockey players have when out on the ice. No matter how much pressure is placed upon them, they consistently remain level-headed and don’t panic in the moment.
Inner excellence is a habit, and when practiced regularly, you will develop a very high level of self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-image.
Hockey players with the excellence mindset perceive their interests as challenges, they get motivated by new challenges in the sport and do not carry with them the “fear of failure” mindset when taking on a new task.
The challenge is invigorating, not exhausting.
You have the “can-do” attitude that a lot of us coaches preach, and this attitude provides you the willingness needed to prepare, invest, and sacrifice whatever is necessary because you realize there are no shortcuts to hockey success.
Playing the “blame game” isn’t even a thought that comes to mind to those with the excellence mindset, because you want to go the extra mile just to find out what’s there.
Working on your inside will always show on the outside. Inner excellence is your vehicle to committing to yourself honestly and productively. Within yourself, you’re fair, honest about your effort, realistic about your character, and honest about your circumstances.
Want to fast-track your mental game? Then check out The Bullet-Proof Hockey Mindset, a brand-new book I wrote that includes all the mental tools, rituals, routines, and even audio frequencies that are going to transform your entire game from day one.
The body can only go where the mind takes it. Use this book to enter an elite state of mind you didn’t even know you were capable of. Your hockey potential depends on it.
It was my intention with this article to give you the top 10 principles that I consider “must-knows” when it comes to truly reaching your hockey potential.
I hope you learned something here and are better equipped to go out on the ice and totally blow away all of the coaches and scouts that will be watching you.
Keep us up to date on how you did and let us know if you have any questions in the comments section below.
Grab your copy of The Bullet-Proof Hockey Mindset (while supplies last!), as your mental game is what’s going to allow you to dominate others out on the ice, even if they are more genetically gifted or talented than you are.