Striving for Perfection in Hockey is Counterproductive
I tried to play the perfect game within my coach’s system. Stay on the defensive side of your man, drive hard to the net, keep your stick in the passing lane, etc. I always thought that if I did all of the little things right, it would give my team a chance to win, and maybe even get me noticed by the scouts with “contracts in their pockets.” Well, let me save you the trouble: you, me, and Sid the Kid have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. Lots of them. Perfection is impossible to achieve in hockey. Let’s consider a slightly different way of thinking.
The great players spend 95% of their time on the ice doing the little things that I mentioned above just like the rest of us. The other 5% of their time on the ice, the great players break outside of the system and CREATE. Whether that is Ovechkin using his speed to bust around a D and score, Dion Phaneuf laying an open ice hit that changes the momentum of the game, Hall Gill blocking a shot or the Sedin brothers cycling. In that creation there is bound to be some confusion or chaos—that no doubt makes a coach cringe—but that is where the greatness lives. Babe Ruth hit 714 homeruns. But he also struck out 1,330 times.
Every hockey player has a unique skill that they bring to the game. That includes YOU. If you’re so busy trying to play within a system, then you will have a hard time differentiating yourself and more than likely will end up average. So even though the coach may not like when you delineate from the system, that’s where the greatness lies. So make sure you’re taking care of your responsibilities, but don’t be afraid to try new things and CREATE. That’s what wins games and gets you noticed. I challenge you to strive for creatively unleashing that unique skill—not perfection. Good luck with the start of the season.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Brett Henning, the author of 7 Pre-Game Habits of Pro Hockey Players and Score100goals.com, for this story.
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