success

My Hockey Advice

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I'm part of a private Facebook group for coaches. 

Not just hockey coaches, but all types of coaches from all sorts of different levels and representing all sorts of different sports. 

It's been an awesome community to be a part of and is interesting to see other coaches perspectives on their sport. 

It got me thinking about this blog the other day when I saw something that was asking what's the best advice you can give to an athlete. 

So what's the best advice that I can give to a hockey player?

The more I thought about it, I realized that my advice isn't specific to hockey but really is useful for any athlete, or really anyone looking for advice. 

For me, it comes down to two things:

1. Be passionate about what you do.

2. Be willing to work incredibly hard day in and day out for whatever you're passionate about.

I really believe that if you can master those two concepts that you will always be able to find success in some fashion. 

As we all know, hockey is hard. 

If you want to be good at it, you're going to have to commit a lot of time, effort, and energy into becoming a hockey player. 

Days will get tough...hell seasons will be tough. But, if you want to be a hockey player then you need to have a passion for the game. A love so pure for the game that getting on the ice everyday is exciting. 

Now the beauty of this is that if you have a real passion for something, like hockey, then working hard at it shouldn't come as a huge struggle. 

The people that are really passionate about the game are the ones that really embrace the grind of it all. They take the good with the bad and make the best of it. 

I really believe that if you can find what you're passionate about and really work at it, you'll find success. 

It's About The Journey

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It's crazy the things we learn as we get older. 

The older I get and the more I experience, the more I realize that it's not all about the end game. 

It's really all about the journey. 

The journey is where we evolve, learn, and grow. 

Think about it this way... how many of you reading this, or your son or daughter, had aspirations of playing at the highest level? Whether that was making it to the NHL, college hockey, or maybe even just junior hockey.

If you didn't end up making it that far, does that mean that the journey and the grind was a failure? 

For me, when I was little I wanted to play in the NHL just like every other kid. Then, that dream shifted as I started to get older and moved to wanting to play college hockey at the Division I level. 

My journey ultimately ended without achieving any of those things. I never made it to the NHL, and I didn't play Division I hockey. 

I took my abilities as far as I could and ended up playing four years of Division III NCAA hockey. 

But, I don't at all look at that time, energy, and effort as a waste. 

Luckily for me, I learned that it ultimately was never really about the end game. It was about the journey that I went on chasing those dreams that ended up building my character, defining my work ethic, and molding me into who I am today. 

I think to often we can get so wrapped up in the end result that we can lose sight of everything we're gaining along the way. 

The journey is ultimately where you learn the life lessons that will help define your success in the future. 

Without facing rejection, learning to overcome obstacles, or really understanding what it means to commit and work for something, I wouldn't be the person I am today. 

The end result is just the end result. Whether you get there or not can't be the only deciding factor to base your success on. 

Learn to embrace the journey and all that comes along with it. 

I think this lesson is so valuable to hockey players. 

If you're serious about the game, you have to be in for the long haul. It's definitely a journey to get to the places you want to go. People often see others who are at the top of the pecking order, whether that is the NHL or college hockey, and forget that they all had to go on a journey to get where they are too. 

We all have a different path and a different journey to our success. And remember that everyone is going to face different obstacles and moments of adversity, but it's through those moments that we'll continue to grow and define our own individual success. 

So learn to embrace the grind, keep things in perspective, and enjoy the journey. 

The 1% Better Mindset

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Our mind can often be our biggest advantage, or disadvantage. The right mindset can carry you through tough times and over many obstacles, while a poor mindset can bring you down into lows that you didn't know existed. 

I've realized through coaching, and my own life, that simplifying the way we think about things and learning to control the things that are in our power to control have been some of the most helpful pieces of advice that I've built into my life and my coaching. 

There have been a few things that I would say have helped define me as a person and a coach. I guess you could call them my set of guidelines that I try to follow in my constant pursuit of success, and also my pursuit of helping those around me become successful.

While there have been various contributing factors, there is one thing that has pushed itself ahead of all the rest. 

It's something that I talk to my teams and players about on a regular basis. 

Getting 1% better everyday. 

I think this way of thinking is especially important, and relevant, for hockey players. 

The truth is, we live in a society where people want results instantly. Think about all the late night infomercials you've seen, or even about the guy who works an hour a week and is a millionaire. 

While (most of us) know that these things are bogus, there is a part in all of us that believes (or wishes) them to be true. 

Often we think the same way when it comes to hockey.

We often want the end result of being a great player and all the accolades that come along with it, but we sometimes forget about the work needed to get there. 

We see great players on TV like Crosby, McDavid, Matthews, Kane... and can sometimes forget the amount of time, effort, energy, and sacrifice that it took them to get to that level. 

That's not to say that it isn't important to dream about those things, but rather, to realize that that level of success doesn't just happen overnight. 

As the famous quote goes, it's taken years and years of hard work and sacrifice to be the 'overnight success' that you see today.

So what's the point of all this?

As I've talked about before on this blog, while having an endpoint, or goal, in mind is important, it's not always the deciding factor to real success or growth. In fact, more often than not, the real growth comes through the journey. 

The real success comes through overcoming the struggle and fighting through the obstacles even when you didn't think you could. 

I'm of the mindset and belief that if you can break bigger goals down into more manageable segments, it makes them more realistic and easier to stick to. 

In other words, it simplifies the process. 

Small incremental gains leads to monumental progress over time.

So in my own life, and those that I interact with and coach, I constantly talk about the 1% rule. 

The 1% rule means that my goal for everyday, or every practice or time I touch the ice, that I get 1% better. 

Breaking it down into something simple, like getting 1% better, makes everything seem more possible.

If you can do that, will you notice a change from today to tomorrow? No. 

But, if you can get 1% better everyday, will you notice a change from today to three months from now? Absolutely. 

And for me, that's what it's all about. It's not about doing something for one day and expecting to become an expert or a superstar. It's about building for the long haul and understanding the consistent work that you put in as a player is going to eventually pay off. 

I know that it can be frustrating at times to think that way because we want results now, but, I have found that if you can buy into this way of thinking that it becomes easier to stay motivated and accountable in all that you do. 

Getting 1% better isn't a quick fix for anything, it's a mindset. It's a way of thinking that will (hopefully) make you enjoy the journey and the process and realize that great things take time. 

If you can carry this way of thinking into your hockey career, and life, I firmly believe that you will find yourself achieving more and constantly improving. 

Be in it for the long haul. Get 1% better everyday. And become that next 'overnight success'.

6 Keys To Building A Pregame Routine That Works

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How do you prepare for games?

Do you have a routine?

Or do you just show up to the rink, throw your stuff on, and go out there and play?

It's always amazing to me when players can't figure out why they are inconsistent from game to game. 

When players aren't doing everything in their power to make sure they're prepared to play, they're often inconsistent. 

Preparation is a big key to success.

The first thing that needs to be understood is that everyone’s pregame routine, or preparation, will be different. What may work for you, may not work for your linemates and vis versa. The key is to discover a routine that works for you. You want to feel confident, poised, and ready to play your best from the time you hit the ice in warm ups to the time the final buzzer sounds.

6 Keys to Building a Pregame Routine that Works

  • Understand your why and what you want to achieve

Like any aspect of hockey, or life, if you don’t have an understanding of what you are trying to do, and why you want to do it, then you’re never going to achieve ultimate success. You need to have a clear path and vision to what you want, but also understand why you want those things. Any time you know what you are trying to achieve, it makes it easier to build a process around achieving that success.

  • Plenty of rest, proper nutrition, be on time (never rushed)

I group these three ideas together because I feel like for the most part they are self explanatory. If you want to be at your peak level of performance you need to be well rested. A physically exhausted athlete is not going to be performing at their best. The same idea holds true with nutrition. The food you eat is the fuel you need to perform. It sounds simple and seems like such a common sense principle, yet it is one of the most overlooked aspects in young hockey players. Eat foods that are light and that you know are going to make you feel good. Stay away from any foods that may leave you feeling sluggish or unsettled (examples include greasy or spicy foods). Finally, be on time! It’s amazing how something like being late to the rink can throw off your pregame routine and your focus. Before taking the ice, you want to be feeling calm and prepared. By simply being on time, you create a sense of comfort and readiness.

  • Visualization

You can’t expect to achieve success unless you can see it in your mind. This is something that I have learned through years of playing and coaching. Find a quiet place where you can close your eyes and focus on your thoughts. Visualize yourself playing the game. See yourself making tape to tape passes, winning 1 on 1 battles along the boards, blocking a shot, scoring a big goal, winning the game and celebrating with your teammates… all those little things that will make you and your team successful. See them in your mind and start training your mind to expect those plays. When you can see those plays in your mind, your confidence will begin to grow.

  • Create Mental Reminders

Mental reminders are your three key points that you want to focus on in order to keep your mind in tune with your surroundings, engaged in the game, and playing at your best. These ideas should be short, simple, and concise. Between periods or shifts, good or bad, you can remind yourself of these things in order to make sure that your mind stays focused. Know in your mind that if you can do those mental reminders each shift, you’re going to be playing well and helping your team be successful. Examples of mental reminders include: keep my feet moving, good stick on stick, finish my checks, strong in the grey zones, good first pass, call for the puck… the list can go on and on and can change from game to game depending on your role. These simple ideas are a great way to keep your mind focused and into the game.

  • Breathe

It seems so simple, yet is so powerful. Learn to breathe and calm your nerves or amp yourself up. Breathing is unique because we unconsciously do it in order to live, yet have the ability to control it if we want to. Feeling nervous before a game? Take a few deep breaths, slowing inhaling until your lungs are full, holding for a few seconds, and then slowing exhaling. This will calm your heart rate and in turn help calm your nerves. On the flip side, if you don’t feel into the game, you can use your breathing to help get your adrenaline pumping. Quickly breathing in and out will help your heart rate rise and get adrenaline pumping into your body. This can help your mind focus and get excited about playing the greatest game on earth.

  • Feel calm and confident

The most important aspect of a pregame routine is to leave you feeling confident. The whole point of creating a routine is let you have a series of predetermined activities that you know you will be successful at to help build that comfort level and confidence. Remember, success leads to confidence and confident hockey players are great hockey players. Every player is different and different things work for different players. Try a few things (taping your stick, warming up a certain way, etc…) to find what works best for you. Stick with your routine and give it a chance to work for you. Things can always be added or changed, but it ultimately boils down to whatever makes you feel comfortable, confident, and ready.

There’s no magic formula to what makes the perfect pregame routine. The only consistent idea is that having some sort of routine is important to success and being at your best. Some routines are simple, while some are a bit more complex. The key is to find what works for you and be consistent with it.

When times get tough, or you're looking for something new to give you an extra edge, examine your preparation. 

The way you prepare is another one of those things that is completely in your control as a player. It will not only help you play more consistent, but will also leave you with a feeling of confidence. 

Don't overlook the power, and importance, of giving yourself the best opportunity to be successful.

Let us know if the comments section what works for you.

Preparing For The Big Game

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Sweaty palms, fidgeting legs, heart pumping...

Man, I miss those feelings.

That's how I used to feel before a big game.

I never felt like it was out of nervousness, but more out of excitement. The excitement of being on the big stage with something important on the line.

Now, in a perfect world we could say that we get those feelings every game. That same rush of nerves and excitement, but the reality is, some games just carry more weight than others. That's just a fact. It doesn't matter how good you are, or what level you're playing at, some games will always feel bigger than others.

Even in the NHL, I guarantee that Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals feels a lot different than a Sunday afternoon game in Florida in the middle of January...

While the end may be close for some, or already happened, for others some of the biggest games of the season are about to take place.

I was talking with a former player that I coached the other day who is now a head coach (wow, that makes me feel old...). His team is about to play in the state semi-finals. He asked me for advice on playing in those big types of games. What they should do to prepare and be ready...

My message to him was simple: Seize the opportunity. Remember what got you there and play your game. Don't try to change and be someone that you're not. And enjoy the hell out of every minute.

 For coaches and players alike, I think this message holds true. I think way to often as coaches and players we get to a big game or a big moment and feel like we need to change what we're doing to get us over the top.

I've never looked at it that way.

I've always had the mindset of sticking to the things that have made you successful and driven you and your team to that point. That doesn't mean that you don't have to adapt and game plan for specific things that the opposing team does, but rather, that you stick to the core strengths of your team.

A better way to explain it might be that you game plan on how to defend a specific teams powerplay, but don't try and change your whole style and way of playing. If you're a team that is physical and plays heavy, play that way. Don't try to turn into a finesse team just because it's a bigger game on a bigger stage.

I think this message is important for both coaches and players. And honestly, like so many things, it can be related to real life too. Be confident in who you are and what you bring to the table. In the end, I guarantee you'll make it a hell of a lot farther being true to who you are then trying to be someone you're not.

I've talked a lot in this blog about making the most of opportunities. Playing in big games is just that... another opportunity. Don't let fear control you. Embrace the situation and embrace the moment and leave it all out there. I know that sounds cliche, but I think so many times we can hype big moments up in our head so much that we end up missing out on the experience and not performing how we would have hoped.

My advice for anyone about to go into a big game is to keep things in perspective, stick to the things that have made you successful, leave every ounce of yourself out there, and most importantly, enjoy the moment.

Speaking from personal experience, big games in huge moments are hard to come by. So every chance that you have at one, enjoy it and realize how fortunate you are to experience it.

Good luck to everyone about to play in one of those big games...

Why Do You Play Hockey?

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This week’s blog is all about building a foundation for your success. Now, before we get into a bunch of specific details about things like building confidence into your game, setting goals, or becoming more consistent...we all need to take a step back first. We need to actually know why we are doing those things. It’s the starting point. It’s the biggest, and often most important, part of building your foundation.

I’ve written on this blog about this subject before, but I wanted to rewrite an updated and more in depth version for everyone as the season gets underway.

It’s so common anymore that we get wrapped up in life and in hockey with so many things that either a) don’t really matter or b) we really can’t control.

It turn, this usually leads to a lack of focus or a lack of direction. And the truth is, if we lose our focus and our direction then we almost always lose our drive and motivation. Plain and simple, we become discouraged and we lose sight of what’s really important.

That’s why discovering your WHY is so important.

If you know what your WHY is then you know what your purpose is. And if you know what your purpose is then it’s a hell of a lot easier to stay on the path to success and to stay driven.

Think about it? Why do you play hockey?

It’s such a simple question but I bet nearly everyone reading this right now has been guilty of losing sight of this. I know I have. It’s so easy to get frustrated and forget about the simplicity of the game, or forget about the simple love that you have for the game.

Nearly every year that passes, it probably gets a little bit harder to keep this idea in perspective and remember why you’re actually playing. When you’re little it’s easy, right? The game is just fun. You don’t really care about winning and losing. In reality, when you’re little it’s just awesome to be putting on a bunch of pads and some super cool looking skates and going out on the ice and ripping around and chasing after the puck. And hey, if that puck happens to come next to me I’m going to wack it as hard as I can.

Think about it, for the most part, we all started the same way. The game was so pure and fun. Our WHY was easy back then. It was fun to be on the ice and we didn’t have to worry about anything else. We didn’t have to worry about our record, or how many shifts we were getting, or how many points we were putting up, or what team we were going to make…. None of that stuff mattered. All that mattered was that we got to be on the ice and have the most fun possible for an hour.

Puts things in perspective a bit when you think back to days like that, doesn’t it?

I was guilty of it as a player.

My junior year of college I was healthy scratched out of the blue against the best team in the country. I was internally devastated when I saw that lineup get posted...do you think that I was thinking about my WHY when that happened? No way… I was thinking of every excuse in the book. Trying to justify the “dumb” decision that was made and started wallowing down the path of self pity and questioning why I was even wasting my time playing hockey.

Isn’t it amazing how one difficult obstacle can make you question everything in an instant? I had been playing hockey for over 20 years, it was my love and my passion, and because of one bad day I lost sight of all that. It’s sad, honestly.

It’s moments like that, that have helped guide me to where I am today and why I do what I do now with coaching and through Boost Hockey.

For me, it took me until my senior year to actually start realizing some of this stuff. My senior year, I decided that I was going to love every second of being a part of that team. It had been my goal since kindergarten to play college hockey and I needed to not waste another day. And thankfully, that’s what helped start me down this path of focusing on these ideas.

Realizing the importance of strengthening my mind, and realizing how far a strong mind could really take you.

And I’ve also realized that understanding your WHY is truly the foundation for it all of it.

It’s like this blog, my WHY for creating it is to impact the hockey world in a positive way and to bring a group of like minded people together to support and learn from one another so that way we can build not only better more mentally strong hockey players, but also better more successful people.

It literally is something that I look at and remind myself about every single day. It’s like that simple grounding factor. It keeps things in perspective and reminds me WHY I’m doing the things that I’m doing.

I coach hockey and run Boost Hockey because it allows me to coach people and make an impact. It, like I talked about earlier, gives me my purpose, which in turn keeps me motivated and driving forward.

So I’m going to ask you about it again. What is your WHY?

Why do you play hockey?

Now the beauty of this, is that there is no wrong or right answer to this question. And the answer can always change and keep evolving...whether that’s each year, or each season, or even every couple months. The important thing is to take some time and do some self reflection and really be able to give yourself an honest answer.

Conversely, while it’s totally relevant and important to hockey, it also has a huge carry over to real life. The simple lessons that we’ve been talking about in this lesson can all be used in everyday life. Think about it… why do you get up in the morning? If you’re in school...why do you go to school? If you’re a parent or a coach… why do you get up and go to work everyday? Why do you make the decisions that you make? Why are sacrificing so much for your players or kids?

I can tell you from personal experience that this has been one of the most powerful concepts I have ever learned in my entire life.

It’s amazing how clear life can become when you know why you’re doing something. Think of how many things in life you do, or get stuck in the routine of doing, without thinking about or knowing why you’re doing them.

It’s like me… why do I work so hard at the things I do? Why do I work so hard at Boost Hockey?

So I can help someone else who needs it. So I can make an impact on the hockey world and the world in general. That I can feel like I’m doing my part to make the world a better place. So that I can provide for my family. So that my kids can grow up proud of the work their dad does… That is my why…

It’s a little different when you think about it that way, isn’t it? Gives you a little extra push to get moving and make something of the day.

The power of understanding your WHY is amazing. I want you to capture it and use it every single day.

PLACES YOU MIGHT GET STUCK

This is a simple exercise and something that you all should be doing on a regular basis but, like with most things, there are a few places where you can get stuck.

  1. You don’t give yourself a real honest answer. Isn’t it crazy how sometimes if we ask ourselves a question and we don’t have to share the answer with anyone, we still don’t always give the dead honest truth? It’s almost like we are embarrassed of the answer, or it’s like we’re trying to give the answer we think we should be giving instead of what we’re really feeling. Plain and simple, don’t do that. Just realize that there is no right or wrong answer and just be completely honest with yourself. If you play hockey because it makes you confident… perfect. If you play because hockey is the one place where you feel like you can be yourself… perfect. Literally, the answer can be anything as long as you’re being honest with yourself.

  2. You don’t reevaluate your WHY. We all evolve as people and our needs and priorities change over time. That’s ok and actually a good thing. But your WHY as a 10 year old and as a 17 year old might be completely different.

  3. Fill out the worksheet and review your WHY. It’s like most things in life, you’re only going to get out of it what you put into it. So if you spend 20 minutes today thinking about it and filling out what your WHY is and then lose the worksheet or put it in a place that you never see it or think about it, is it really going to help you when you need it? No, of course not. Commit to being better and sticking to the process.

  4. You only try and  think about your WHY when things are going bad. If you remember my story about getting healthy scratched my junior year of college, this is an exact reason it’s a bad idea. Of course, if times are getting tough then you’ll want to review your WHY and help you put perspective on the situation and limit the amount of frustration you’re feeling. But, speaking from experience, don’t just rely on it when things are bad. Get in the habit of consciously thinking about these things everyday and if your experience is like mine, your mindset will begin to shift and the number of frustrating or daunting experiences will start to diminish.

Setting Goals In Hockey: The Complete Guide

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Setting goals in hockey is something that we hear a lot about, but there’s rarely clarification, or instruction, about the best way to go about doing that. We hear it all the time, “ what are your goals?”

It’s kind of crazy because we hear people talk about setting goals and their importance, but never really receive any guidance about how to go about doing it. It’s like we’re just supposed to automatically know how to set goals in order to drastically change our life for the better.

Hockey is no different. I had coaches growing up who used to just ask, “What are your goals?”

And I remember thinking about it and just kind of throwing out a random answer of what I thought I wanted, but there was never a system behind it. There was never someone who sat down and said this is how you set goals, and this is why you need to set goals.

Goals are an incredibly powerful thing if you’re taught how to use them and actually act upon the process.

So let’s jump in and get started.

What Are Goals

The simple answer is that goals are things we want to accomplish in the future. And to be honest, this is probably how most of us think about them on a daily basis.

That’s the right answer but that’s also just a surface answer. There’s obviously a lot more that needs to go into everything in order to create strong goals that are not only achievable but will also keep you motivated to continue working towards them. 

Whether it’s in hockey or life, we need to be setting goals that all have three defined characteristics.

  1. They need to be inspiring. If it isn’t something that is going to keep you motivated and excited to be working for, you’re never going to be able to achieve it. When obstacles come up, are you passionate enough about your goal to keep pushing forward towards it?

  2. It needs to be believable. I know a big part of goal setting is to push the boundaries, but it needs to be believable (at least to you) in order for it to be successful. For example, it’s probably not believable to say you want to play in the NHL next season if you are 16 and currently playing on a local midget team....

  3. Your goals need to be things that you can take action on. Without the ability to take action, there is no way to track, or build, a process to achieve your goals. We need to be able to define what the actions are that we need to take to achieve our goals.

Why Do You Need To Be Setting Goals

As hockey players, there are a lot of things that can act as possible distractions. Plain and simple, goals provide us focus and direction. When you know what you are working for it’s easier to stay focused on what it is you really want. Jim Rohn, a well known motivational speaker, sums it up best.

“Goals are like a magnet - they pull. And the stronger they are, the more purposeful they are, the bigger they are, and the more unique they are, the stronger the pull.”

So in other words, if you aren’t setting goals as a player then you aren’t reaching your full potential because you don’t have a laser like focus on the direction you want to move in. The more defined, and clear, you are on your goals the easier it becomes to stay on track and continue to make progress.

Goals are also vital because they allow us to push through obstacles.

How many of you have ever started doing something and then ended up quitting or not following through?

I’m sure we all have at one time or another.

As parents or coaches, how many of us have heard our players say that they were going to go in the garage or basement and shoot extra pucks everyday to get better, and then a couple weeks go by and that bucket of pucks just continues to sit there unused?

The truth is that I’m sure most of us can share a story similar to that.

This is just an example of why goals become so important. They continually give us a reason to keep working even when things get tough. And, when done correctly, can be a quick shot of motivation to push through those tough days and stay on track.

One of the best, most relatable, examples I can give is working out. Think about yourself when you’ve decided that you needed to get in better shape and start working out more, or again.

For most of us, the first few days, or even weeks, are pretty easy because we’re inspired and motivated to make a change. And it also helps, that often times we see some quick results from starting to work out again. Whether that’s dropping a few pounds, or just genuinely feeling better about yourself… it feels good.

But then what happens? Three or four weeks roll by and all the sudden the excitement of starting something new has worn off and maybe the noticeable progress has started to plateau.

It’s the first major obstacle that we all hit. We start to lose our motivation and all the sudden it becomes easier and easier to find an excuse of why we don’t need to work out.

This is just one example as to why goals are so important. Without goals, it becomes easy to quit.

The whole point of having goals is to give you some backup and help keep you motivated, inspired, and moving forward.

I feel like learning about goals and how to incorporate them into your life are incredibly powerful because of exact examples like above.   

It’s like anything else in life, if you can buy in and 100% commit to trying it, I promise you you’ll grow for the better from the results.

Because here is the real truth behind having goals. We’re all after the end result, but it’s during the journey that we learn the most from.

How To Set Goals

Now before we just starting throwing out ideas about things we want to do. We need to start with some reflection and a good self evaluation. It’s nearly impossible to grow as a player and person if you don’t know where you are currently.

From a hockey standpoint, think about yourself as a player. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

You also need to think about how bad you really want to get better. You have to know that with anything, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and commitment to really get better. So I always think it’s important to really think about the amount of work you’re willing to commit to before you start throwing out lofty goals of things you want to achieve.

Once you have time to reflect and feel like you have a really strong understanding of where you are as a player, then it’s time to start thinking about what you really want to achieve and work for.

Now is the time to pull out a piece of paper and start writing down everything that comes to your mind. What do you want to achieve? What are your actual dreams, aspirations, and goals?

This is the time to get everything down on paper. Don’t worry about if it’s realistic or not, just write down everything that comes to your mind about what you want to achieve. Once you have a list, then you can sort through it and figure out what you really want to work on making a reality.

An even better way to think about it is, what would you want to do if you knew that you could not fail? Or, what would you want to do and achieve to ensure that you never had any regrets.

Now that your list is done, take a break from it all. I think you should give yourself a minimum of a few hours, or even 24 hours, to let that list sit there. Once you’ve had a chance to get away from it for a bit, go back to it and look at your list again.

Most people will have a few things that will be easy to cross off. Either they aren’t even remotely realistic, or now that you’ve had some time to refresh your brain, you’ve decided it’s not something you’re remotely interested in.

With everything that is left over, start prioritizing each item on the list. Pretty soon you’ll have an organized list of the things that you’re passionate about and motivated to go after.

Now with this next part, I’m sure that a lot of you have heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals. If you haven’t, it’s an acronym for a system to follow when setting goals. We want to be able to create intelligent goals that our heart can get behind and our body will follow. Every goal you set should be able to follow this same system:

  • S - Specific -  This is where we have to know exactly what we are working for. You cannot be vague in this part of the goal setting process. An example would be: I am going to shoot 10,000 extra pucks over the course of the summer (or 100 extra pucks for the next 100 days). This is specific. A bad example would be: I want to be a better goal scorer. While they are essentially saying the same thing, the phrasing of the first example is specific and leaves no room for interpretation. When you get specific with your goals, they become more powerful.

  • M - Measurable - Think about it this way, if you don’t track something how do you know if you are ever actually getting better? Each goal that you set needs to be able to be tracked and measured. If we use the example above, we know that if we shoot 100 extra pucks a day that we can track our progress. Saying that you want to be a better goal scorer leaves to many things open for interpretation. Sure you could possibly compare year to year how many goals you have been scoring but that won’t give you the measurable results that you need to really get better and stick with your goals.

  • A - Attainable - Our goals should almost feel like they are just out of reach in order to continue to challenge and push us forward. With that being said, they need to be attainable. Don’t set such a lofty goal that you know you have no way of reaching. An example of this would be to shoot 10,000 extra pucks over the course of the summer. That is a stretch, but really a very attainable goal.

  • R - Realistic -  This portion of the goal setting process works hand and hand with the ‘attainable’ piece above. We talked earlier about how goals need to be realistic. Now, just because I said realistic doesn’t mean easy. If we stick with our example above, shooting 10,000 extra pucks is only attainable if we set a realistic goal for ourselves, like 100 extra shots a day. It would be unrealistic to say I want to shoot 10,000 pucks today, but you can make it realistic by saying that I am going to shoot 100 extra pucks a day for the entire summer to reach 10,000.

  • T - Time - Every goal that you set should have a time frame attached to it. Think about how easy it is to procrastinate on things if there is no deadline. The same idea holds true with goals. We need to set a time frame to everything we do. If we use the example above, then a realistic time frame would be to shoot 100 extra pucks for the next 100 days. That would, in turn, get you to your original goal of shooting 10,000 extra pucks during the summer. Putting a time frame on a goal keeps us motivated and accountable. 

The last piece to ensuring that you’re successful with your goal setting is having accountability.

Accountability is vital to your success with setting goals. Think about it this way, if no one knows about your goals, what’s there to keep you accountable? Does that goal really have any power behind it? I would say often times, no.

There are two main parts to accountability: internal and external.

Internal accountability is important because at the end of the day, we are the ones that are going after our goals. Thus, we should make sure that we are taking responsibility for our goals. It ultimately isn’t up to anyone else to make sure that we achieve our goals.

The best way to ensure that you have internal accountability is to write down your goals so you leave no room for interpretation. When goals are specific and follow the S.M.A.R.T. format, they remove the possibility of be ambiguous.

The next best thing you can do for yourself is be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t allow excuses to come into the picture. Look at things from a black and white viewpoint. Are you on track? Are you sticking to what you said you wanted? In most cases, you’ll find with an honest self assessment that you’re either on track and working towards the end goal, or you’ve fallen off the path and process and need to either get back on track or reevaluate your goals to begin with.

External accountability is also extremely valuable for achieving your goals. Like I said earlier, if no one knows about your goals, then really how powerful are they?

The best way to create external accountability is to find someone who you really trust - a coach, parent, spouse, best friend - but is someone that will be tough and honest with you. Once you identify that person, or group, share with them what your goals are and ask them to keep you accountable. It’s truly amazing how motivating it can be to most people knowing that they are going to have to answer and update someone on their progress.

No one wants to feel like they’re letting anyone down.

Having an external source of accountability helps eliminate this feeling and can help keep you on track. The last part of having an external source of accountability is to commit to being completely honest with them. Remember, no one is perfect and we all have moments of struggle. But, if you are serious about achieving your goals then you have to be willing to take the good with the bad and you have to commit to being honest about your work and progress. Create a time frame of when and how often you are going to check in with each other about your goals. When you have someone holding you accountable, your success rate with improve dramatically.

I know it can be intimidating to share with someone your dreams, but get over the fear and get out of your comfort zone. Find someone to keep you accountable and make your goals and dreams come true.

I know this is a long guide, but I wanted to really spend some time to get into the details of goal setting. The hope is that you can read this and be able to go and start implementing these techniques into your life, and game, immediately.

Good luck!

Are You Going Through The Motions?

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It took me a long time to realize this, but there is a huge difference between taking action and just going through the motions.

From a hockey perspective, I think this concept totally fits.

How many of you have talked about all the things that you want to happen in your hockey career?

In other words, how many of you have sat down and talked about things like "being stronger and in better shape for next season by working out 5 days a week" or "if I stick handle for 15 minutes a day I'll become more confident with the puck" or "I'm going to shoot 100 extra pucks a day so I can score more goals next season".

If we're really being honest with ourselves then I would bet we've all heard things like that said before. Either we've said them our self, or your son or daughter or players we coach have all told us this.

Now, I'm not here to be negative in this post, because the positive is that at least you're starting to think about those things and are realizing that there is more you can be doing to get better. But, this is where going through the motions, compared to taking action really steps in.

How many of you have said things like that, but then never fully followed through?

I know this is on the internet but I would hope you all are being honest and raising your hand. I know I am.

The truth is, we've all been there and done that before. We've all had moments of clarity and motivation where we map out the things we want to do.

But then what happens is that the next day rolls around and we maybe don't feel quite as motivated, or we didn't sleep as well as normal the night before, or we need to go on YouTube and watch videos about the best way to set up a shooting lane in our basement...

I hope you're starting to see the point that I'm making...

It's really easy to make these grand plans about the things we want to do, but it's really hard to just start.

And if I've learned anything over the past 32 years, it's that nothing is ever perfect and if you can take action, and start, you're already ahead of 90% of everyone else.

I'll never forget a conversation I had with a player a couple of summers ago where he talked to me about wanting to work on his stickhandling and shooting everyday over the summer.

After that conversation, I remember him leaving excited and motivated about his possible improvement over the course of the summer.

When I saw him the next week, I asked him how his training at home was going. His response was exactly what I'm talking about here. To paraphrase, he said: "Well, I haven't started yet, because I'm waiting for one of those Green Biscuit stickhandling pucks to arrive that I ordered online, and I haven't started shooting pucks yet because I only have 5 or 10 pucks at my house, but this guy my dad knows said he has a big bucket of pucks that we can have. So whenever my dad sees him and I get the bucket, then I can start shooting. But hopefully I'll get started this week."

Like I said before, I'm not trying to be overly critical in this article. But, that paragraph above is the perfect example of what so many of us do...most of the time without even realizing it. We're in motion, but not actually taking action.

Making plans are great, but executing is where the real difference is made.

The only way to ever actually get results is through taking action. It doesn't have to be perfect and changes, and pivots, can be made along the way. But usually, the biggest hurdle is to simply get started.

If you can start taking action, stay consistent, and continue to work hard there's no way that you're not going to get better.

So the next time you sit down and think about what you want to achieve next with your hockey career, or life in general, start with figuring out what the quickest way to take action is going to be and start there.

Hard work and determination don't care what kind of stick you have, or what kind of fancy training tool you're looking to get.

Trust me, if you start taking action you'll see results.

Do you ever find yourself trying to make the perfect plan instead of just taking action? Comment below and let me know what you think.

The Importance Of Failure

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Failing sucks. 

While it may seem at times that no one else is going through failure, the truth is, we all fail. 

It's crazy to think that so many great players have failed countless times throughout their career, yet they aren't remembered for that.

They're remembered for the great moments, the incredible performances, and the often amazing victories. 

I would even go out and say that the best players are the ones that fail the most. 

While that might sound counterintuitive, it makes sense if you think about it. 

Let me explain. 

People that don't fail frequently are often set in their ways and scared to get out of their comfort zone. In other words, their growth becomes stagnant. 

And when you relate that to hockey, stagnant players who aren't constantly growing, learning, and improving are only ever going to be average players. 

On the flip side, people that fail often are usually the ones that are pushing their limits and looking to grow. 

For hockey players, great players fail often because they're constantly pushing themselves to try new things, develop new skills, and reach new limits. 

Plain and simple, great players aren't settling. They're always wanting more.

I know it sounds crazy when you first hear it, but it's true. If you want to be great, you need to accept that failure is part of the process of improvement and growth. 

 That doesn't just mean that you go out, give a half hearted effort, fail, and then try to sell yourself that you're getting better. 

Failing is important when done the right way. 

I know that's another crazy sounding thing, but it's true. There is right way to fail. 

If you're putting all your effort and energy into something, and you fail, that's an opportunity to learn and grow. 

In other words, if you're lazy you miss out on the growth opportunity.

But, if you put everything into your preparation, effort, and attitude and still fail, then it's not really a failure at all. It's simply just a way that didn't work. And from that you'll learn, grow, and continue to get better. 

So don't be scared of failing, be scared of not putting everything you have into what you're going after. 

No one is perfect, and no hockey player is exempt from making mistakes.

The best players know how to trust the process and learn from their mistakes to ensure that they're continually improving.