Chalk Talk: Persistence – a useful life skill developed through hockey
What are the keys to success in hockey and how do we translate those to essential life skills?
The exponentially increasing demands of ice hockey as a player advances through age levels presents new opportunities for growth. When I speak to athletes and parents about what it takes to stay in this game, I feel there is always a responsibility to give a complete answer instead of something as obvious as hard work, dedication, talent, and so on.
Persistence is an empowering character trait that encompasses all the essential life skills developed through hockey and is required to succeed in the sport, as well as life. So with that, here is how I break down persistence as it relates to success.
What is your goal in the sport? Almost all high school age athletes I work with tell me, “I want to play college hockey.” An excellent goal that presents a long road with countless obstacles ahead. Yes, you have to be good and yeah, you have to work hard and dedicate yourself. But above all else, you need to be relentless in your pursuit. Persistence is defined as “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition,” and that is precisely what you need to achieve success.
Prepare for Obstacles
Ice hockey is notorious for developing mental toughness and learning the value of preparation is an essential life skill that is required when a new challenge presents itself. An obstacle can come in many forms internally and externally – preparing to play a heavy team, getting ready for tryouts or select camps, regular season versus playoff hockey, and so on. Make the preparation phase a life forming habit and apply this to any process by identifying what has to be done followed by a linear progression of how to execute a purposeful plan.
Taking initiative demonstrates a level of maturity that can positively resonate amongst the entire team. Great leaders all understand the power of having the confidence to take initiative and is widely recognized by coaches. It can be applicable to changing the momentum of a game with a hard-nose play, as well as having the guts to pick up the phone and call a junior coach to express your desire to play for their team.
The 3 Rs: Review, Re-evaluate, Revise
Such as the game of hockey is constantly evolving, players and coaches must also evolve with it. It is critical to stay open-minded and receptive to new concepts and strategies as it pertains to every facet of the game. It is considered a limitation when a player or coach lacks perspective. Have the courage to be your own toughest critic with assessments and implementation of a new approach if necessary. This mindset can be developed through watching game tape, exercising the mind through sports psychology practices, and being receptive to different perspectives from coaches and peers.
Garner Support and Encouragement
The power of positivity has an enormous effect on the confidence of players and coaches. Hanging out with the wrong crowd can create a whirlwind of difficulty that can pose a serious hindrance to development. Surround yourself with positive influences that validate your purpose.
Practice these essential life skills with the persistence of a strong-willed human being. Find ways to apply these practices in various elements of the game – the possibilities are endless. You will find this process to be highly effective while enhancing your core values as a person. I strongly believe that the sport of ice hockey is one of the greatest teachers in the development of character and integrity. Therefore, it can only be concluded that essential life skills required in the sport are paramount in achieving long term success as an athlete and a person.
Jerry Hotarek is the owner of Strength Edge Athletics in Belmont and is also a private coach.