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Athletic Development for Hockey, Part 1: Defining Success

Defining Success …

As a strength coach, I am here to develop hockey athletes and potentiate their success on the ice. I am also here to build sound movement patterns that will aid in a healthy lifestyle after an athlete’s competitive career. I am here to develop healthy, powerful, and confident athletes. When it comes to training hockey athletes, a few questions must be addressed before a developmental pathway can be built.

  1. What is success? What is success within hockey? And what is success in regards to the individual athlete/what does success mean to them?

  2. What does the sport of hockey (and the physiology within it) teach us about what an athlete needs to potentiate that success? This question can also be framed as what are the desired qualities for success in hockey?

  3. How is “athletic development” defined? And what are the implications of that across an athlete’s career and beyond their competitive career?

To begin, success in any sport is winning. As a strength coach, I measure success within the sport or career of an athlete as 1) winning, 2) decrease in injury rate and injury severity, and 3) enhancing key performance indicators across an athlete’s season and career (development).

However, the results of a game or a season are affected by numerous factors. We do not control the outcome of a game or a season or the stats of a career. However much durability work we may do along these same lines, injuries will occur. We control the tools: how they are sharpened and how they are used in pursuit of the desired result. We control the effort and attitude that is put forth into a given task. This is how we manage the potentiation of success. What can we control within that game or within that season? We can control our effort in learning to be proficient at hockey. We can maintain our physical training and recovery. We can control our attitude in training and in games. Success within the sport is winning. Let’s find the tools, sharpen them, and do our best to use them correctly in pursuit of that goal. The tools are in our hands. But the score of a game, record of a season, or the stats of a career are not truly within our grasp.

With this in mind, it is paramount that we understand what success means to the individual athlete, and this will be unique to every athlete. At Drill House Sports Center, we place a massive emphasis on the athlete pursuing a task for the right reasons. As former athletes ourselves, the staff knows the emotional and mental graft that is required to train at the frequency and the intensity required for success in a sport all while living among the pressures from yourself, your family, your team, and your environment in general. We want our athletes to be happy and to be confident in themselves as human beings, trusting in themselves and enjoying who they are as a person. In my opinion, success for an individual athlete is being satisfied with the effort and the attitude that you bring to a task. If at the end of a session, at the end of a game, at the end of a season, and probably most importantly, at the end of a career, an athlete can reflect with satisfaction on how they acted and what they brought physically and emotionally to that pursuit then success has been realized.

We must begin our conversation about developing hockey athletes by defining success within the sport and defining success for the individual athlete. From here, we can start to work backward, finding out what qualities are desired for an athlete to be successful within the sport and what physical attributes an athlete needs to potentiate success. From that point, we can begin to map out a pathway for an athlete, from the beginning of their hockey career to the later stages of their development as fully matured athletes.

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