17 February, 2017

4 Factors Separating Good from Great Players

::::  Here at the 4 CRITICAL FACTORS for getting to the elite level  ::::

1. Ability to skate the game


This is by far the most important factor.  And it is about more than just being fast.  This is about timing and support.  Your play with and without the puck.  Your quickness in small spaces.  Your speed in open spaces.  Your power and strength on your skates.

Without ALL of the above, you will not be able to compete at the highest levels of women's hockey. Period. 



2. Have great individual skills and be able to use them in a team environment


:::  On an individual basis:

Are you a threat with the puck?  Can you make moves, protect and control the puck?  Can you give and receive a variety of passes? Can you shoot a variety of shots accurately with strength, power and a soft touch? Can you do all of the above while moving at a high speed?

:::  On the team level:

Are you a threat with and without the puck?  Can you use your vision to see and create options for yourself and your teammates?  Can you control the puck in all situations and exhibit creativity and courage?  Do you create time and space without the puck by getting open, drawing checkers, anticipating the play?


3. Ability to think the game


As a coach who works mostly at the bantam and midget level here in Toronto, this is the #1 difference I see between good players and great players. I've watched hundreds of games this season where it is clear that certain players have tremendous skills, but don't have a very good understanding of the game. 

Here are some examples of what it means to "think" the game:

- Are you defensively responsible?

- Can you play within the team system in all three zones?

- Do you anticipate and support the play on the forecheck, break-out and attack?

- Are you a factor without the puck?


4.  Grit and Intangibles


This one is more important than all the rest.  You can skate like the wind, have all the skills, and great game sense, but if you aren't willing to put in the WORK on and off the ice or do whatever it takes to win a game in the last 10 seconds (even when that means diving in front of a huge slap-shot), then you don't have what it takes to get to the next level.

You have to be able to win battles, fight through checks, play four games in one weekend and have your last shift be as effective and energetic as your first.  

You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.  You have to be willing to work hard and compete.  You have to be able to deal with adversity.  

The road to the top of the women's hockey world is very steep. There are many people near the bottom who say they want to get to the top. But as the road gets tougher, those who are willing to show their commitment start to separate themselves from the competition.  The ones who reach the top are the ones who have all the things I've listed above, in addition to the unwavering desire to be their best and the best.  

Having a great slap-shot, 1-on-1 move or straightaway speed might be enough to allow you to stand out and get noticed at your current level.

But it's not enough to get you to the top.


I consistently remind the players I work with that  I could barely skate at the age of 13 - let alone perform at an elite level. You don't need to be the best at the age of 14 to be the best at the age of 25 - which was the average age of the players on the last Canadian and US Olympic teams. But at every point along your journey to the top, you must commit to developing your game in each of the 4 critical areas listed above.


If you do, you will be well on your way to standing out & being a "go to" player. 

Keep Working Hard & Dreaming BIG.


Your friend and coach,



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