A few years back I remember I was killing some time in a bookstore and I noticed a book entitled "Everything I Learned I Learned in Kindergarten". It was filled with simple life lessons on how to treat people and conduct a good life. You know, stuff like wait your turn, clean up after yourself, say please, etc.
Well I was thinking about hockey and it crossed my mind that the game has lots of life lessons too. so here is my version of, "Everything I Learned I Learned in Hockey".
1. Be on time. Practice, games, bus rides and flights are all scheduled at a predetermined times. Know your schedule and get there early. Being late hurts you and hurts the team.
2. Be prepared. Make sure your sticks and equipment are in good condition. Free your mind of unnecessary thoughts and focus on the task at hand. Be ready to play.
3. Listen to your coach. The coach's job is to maximize the skills of each player in the context of a team. He's seen a lot of hockey and you can learn from him. He might need to raise his voice from time to time but it's only for the good of the team.
4. Team comes first. Not everyone can be the hero every night but if you work together anything is possible. You win together and lose together.
5. When you fall down, get right back up. Unlike other sports, hockey demands that a player be a good skater before you can even play. Being a physical game on skates, you will fall down. Just make sure you always get back up and rejoin the play.
6. Practice, practice, practice. If you ever want to be really good at something, you must practice. Practice like you play. Practice hard and do your best and you will see small improvements most every day.
7. Work/play hard. Give your all every shift. Push yourself and you may be surprised that you can preform better that your ever thought you could.
8. Make friends. By the time a player makes it to the NHL he's had literally hundreds of teammates. Say hello, introduce yourself, share a laugh. Hockey friends are the best friends.
9. Know your role. Hockey is a game where everyone can contribute, be it with a goal, save, or face-off win. Do what your team needs you to do.
10. Share. Joe Thornton knows this one. He loves to pass the puck and gets more enjoyment setting up a goal than scoring himself.
11. Respect your opponent. You should play hard on the ice but never try to hurt anyone. Respect the fact that your opponents wants to win too. Never underestimate your rival.
12. Have fun. Remember it's a game. No one works hockey, they play hockey.
13. Stand up for yourself. Every shift is a physical test. Opponents may make things rough for you. They may say things you don't want to hear. There is a time to turn your cheek, but there too is time to stand up for yourself. Show your teeth once in a while and word will get around that you are not to be messed with.
14. Have your teammates' back. Standup for your teammates. Nothing brings a team together like 20 guys all looking out for each other.
15. Have a game plan. Listen to the coach, listen in games and in practice. Learn the game plan. Make it your own and it will become second nature. Be ready for anything that may happen out there.
16. Get your rest and eat right. Mom was right. Put fuel into your body, the right fuel. You can't play your best unless you take care of yourself.
17. Celebrate. Nothing like the shared experience of scoring a goal or wining a game.. Share in the joy whether it is your goal or not. Support your teammates.
18. Don't cheat. Play hard, play safe, but stay out of the box. Penalties hurt you and they hurt your team.
19. Travel broadens. There's lots of travel involved at the higher levels of hockey. Enjoy the journey and share experiences with your friends.
20. Live in the moment. Up 1-0, it's a face-off in your own zone with 20 seconds remaining. Focus on the time at hand.