What are your favourite memories about minor hockey and what advice do you have for players to get the most out of each season?
K.J. — Vancouver, B.C.
I have so many great memories from playing minor hockey growing up in St. Albert, Alberta that it is hard to narrow down my favourite ones. Throughout my minor hockey days, there were no all-girls teams, so I played on boys teams until I reached Midget. I was always “one of the guys,” and have great memories of going on bus trips to tournaments, playing road hockey tournaments at team gatherings, of team pizza parties and even of the car rides to practice or games with other teammates. Thinking of those memories reminds me how much fun it is to be part of a team.
I have a lot of fun memories, but I have to say that my favourite ones come from experiences where we had to overcome adversity in order to achieve success. I remember winning tournaments or championships or big games and cherish those memories, but the memories that stand out the most in my mind are the victories that were the most difficult to achieve. That’s because they required more work and more strength to come out on top — they meant more to me.
The advice that I would have for players to get the most out of each season would be to focus on gradual improvement throughout the year. It is easy to go to games or to practices and simply go through the motions — especially after being at school all day or going from one activity to another. The difficult part is going to each practice with a focus and with a purpose. If you can improve your game by 0.5% each ice session, this small percentage will gradually add up to a much larger percentage. Over time, you will reap the rewards of your diligent work. Try going into practice with three specific things you want to focus on improving. For example, if you want to work on your shot, each time that you have the opportunity to shoot the puck in practice, shoot with a purpose! If you want to work on your deception or fakes, incorporate fakes into the drills that you are doing in practice. If you do that each practice, and improve a small amount each time you are on the ice, you will eventually notice a big change in your game. I am a firm believer in focusing on gradual improvement, and it is something that I practice to this day.
The other advice I have for players to get the most out of each season would be to enjoy being a part of a team and to enjoy every moment that you are playing. We play hockey because we love the game! Although it is important to focus on improving and playing your best, your greatest hockey memories down the road will come from the joy you get from playing, from being a part of those teams, the friendships you create as a result, and the adversity that you overcome together.
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