The three C’s of girls’ hockey success
Posted by Dean Holden at September 7th, 2013
by Kim McCullough, 6 June 2013
With three months left to prepare until the season starts, I wanted to share the three Cs of girls’ hockey success with you today. And since we’re heading into summer vacation mode, I’m going to keep it short.
The majority of girls hockey players that I’ve coached are very literal and over-analytical. Which means that they tend to do exactly what the coach writes on the board or explains in the room, even if it makes them a less effective player.
For example, when the coach draws out a breakout on the board and asks the winger to have their feet moving up ice near the hashmarks in order to receive the puck, most girls hockey players will be able to execute it perfectly. The problem is that the puck might be 10 feet away, and instead of going after the puck, they’ll continue to skate the pattern the coach asked for.
It seems to me that most girls hockey players are “coach pleasers” which means that they’ll do exactly what the coach asks of them. It’s not a bad problem to have, except for the fact that hockey is a game of mistakes and the play rarely unfolds exactly the way it’s written up on the board. The truth is that most girls don’t watch that much hockey on TV or go out to play pick-up hockey regularly throughout the season. So their exposure to the game is largely isolated to when they come to practice or play in games.
So in reality, us coaches are going to have to build in games, drills and scenarios that promote creativity into our practice if we want our players to be more comfortable with being creative out on the ice. And players – do your best to think outside the box and be creative. Take what your coach shows and teaches you and apply those concepts to the game. But recognize that the game never unfolds exactly as planned and it’s the players who can be creative within the context of the systems and strategies of the game that are going to have success at the next level.
In order to be a successful player at this level and the next, you need to be consistent. Being consistent in your play makes you a very valuable teammate. Your teammates need to know they can count on you to deliver the same high-level performance every time you hit the ice. Your coach needs you to be consistent so that they can put together a game plan that showcases everyone’s strengths and makes the entire team successful. And the scouts who are looking for players for the next level need you to be consistent too. They are investing a lot of time (and in some cases, money) to have you be a part of their college team and need to have a solid grasp of exactly what kind of player you are so that they can determine how you can help their team succeed. If you are great one game and invisible the next, that may hurt your chances of getting to, and excelling at, the next level.
This is the biggest key of all. You can be as creative and consistent as you want, but if you aren’t willing and able to compete as hard as you can each and every game and practice, you will limit how successful you can be in this game.
Competitiveness is not just going “full out” in practice and games once the season starts. That’s a big part of it, but if you don’t prepare throughout the summer, you won’t have the foundation in place to compete at the highest level possible all season long.
Whether it’s your off-ice training or mental preparation, making wise nutrition choices or working on your hands and shot, all the work you are doing this summer to prepare for the season is going to pay off big time when it comes to your ability to compete at the highest level possible all season long. You may be willing to compete at the highest level possible, but if you haven’t prepared yourself physically and mentally, you simply won’t be able to compete with anyone who has been putting in the work on the “little” things all summer long.
Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS, is the Founder & Director of Total Female Hockey and is an expert in the development of aspiring young hockey players.