Hockey has gotten more and more competitive. Players are getting more skilled, stronger, faster. Here are my ideas on this phenomenon.
“My dear, here we run as fast as we can, just to stay in place”
-The Red Queen (Alice in Wonderland)
This is a quote that means that everyone runs as fast as they can so that they don’t get left behind. This is synonymous with the hockey world. Why?
It used to be that only a few players ran to get in better shape for hockey. Now everyone runs to get in shape for hockey. So if you’re not running, you’re getting left behind.
It also used to be that only a few players trained with weights to get ahead. Now everyone trains with weights. So if you aren’t training with weights, you’ll get left behind.
It used to be that only a few players knew about the 10,000 hours rule. Now Macklemore made a song about it, ergo everyone knows about the 10,000 hour rule. So now, if you aren’t singing Macklemore and practicing for 10,000 hours, you’re getting left behind.
Every single player is improving. If you’re not improving, you’re going to get left behind!
It is no longer important that you improve – that is a given. What matters is how fast you improve – your RATE of improvement.
Everyone has a limited amount of time and energy (TENERGY). So what matters isn’t how much you practice. It is about making smart decisions about where to spend your TENERGY and the QUALITY of the TENERGY you’re spending on your hockey career.
Where to spend TENERGY
Do a needs analysis. Figure out where your strengths and weaknesses lie. If you can rip off a 15 on the beep test, bench press 300lbs and squat 450lbs…and you take large chunks out of the ice when you stickhandle…then you probably don’t need to spend much more time in the gym – you need to spend time stick handling! If you are already skilled, but get knocked off the puck easier…you don’t need to practice stick handling…you need to get in the gym! Always analyze where your time will provide you with the most improvement.
Mindless hours of practice are no good. Mindless coaching is also no good. Especially if you accept that every athlete on the same path as you shares the same constraint of time and energy. If you have a higher quality of practice and training within your time constraints, you can get more out of your TENERGY and move further towards your goal than the next person.
Rate of Improvement
It doesn’t matter if you are better than players were 10 years ago. It matters if you are better than your cohorts vying for a spot on the team you want to make NOW. Since everyone is training, everyone has a skills coach, and everyone is reading books on sports psychology… you need to find a way to improve faster. So only do the best training, make sure you’ve got an excellent skills coach, and that you’re reading the best books. Do a needs analysis and figure out where to spend your TENERGY. Get better, faster.