At this point in the season, there have been plenty of periods played. There have been dozens of games won – and more than a few lost. As we near the homestretch of the 2015-16 season, it can sometimes be difficult to keep the energy you had in October, up through the February and March.
So how do you navigate the last few weeks of the year? USA Hockey’s Roger Grillo, the regional manager of the American Development Model for Massachusetts and New England, offered his keys to success as you look ahead to the remainder of the season.
Look back at your accomplishments
“As a player, you want to judge yourself on where you were and where you’re at, then make sure you’re constantly moving forward,” says Grillo. “I think one of the challenges, and it depends on the age of the athlete but this would be geared more toward the older kids, is to constantly evaluate where you’re at and if you’re moving forward. Are you continuing to develop?”
Set new goals
“I think this is really important,” Grillo says. “We’ve done some work with Finnish Ice Hockey, and, what they do, especially when kids get to about 13- or 14-years-old, is ask the kids to evaluate themselves and figure out what their weaknesses are. Then they set a timetable practice plan to work on those weaknesses to make sure the practice plans are hitting the areas that the kids feel – not so much the adults feel – but the kids feel need the most attention.”
Take some chances and don’t be afraid to fail
“That’s critical,” says Grillo. “Encourage our kids to be creative, to think outside the box, to do something different. That’s also critical at all times of the year, not just the middle of the season. What we’ve learned is that it’s easer to pull a kid back than to push him or her forward, so encourage that creativity and that spontaneity – and those aspects of the game that are so difficult to coach. Constantly encourage kids to not be afraid to fail and to try things. That’s important.
“Create that environment to allow them to have success in trying something they maybe can’t do. And that goes for games, too. So many of our young athletes are afraid to fail in games. They don’t want to be the reason a team loses, so try to create an environment that encourages kids to try things. Our best athletes are the ones who aren’t afraid to fail. Creating that environment at a young age is critical.”
Get outside and try another sport
“Being a multi-sport athlete can mean a lot of things,” Grillo says. “Get outside and do anything – throw a lacrosse ball, play catch, play touch football in the yard. Whatever it is, from about the age of 5 to about 13, build that base of athleticism. Experiencing different things and experiencing different aspects of sport for a young kid is really, really important. Skiing is perfect, too. The balance and coordination and agility it takes to be on a set of skis, everything crosses over. And the fun aspect of it is as critical as anything.”
Find a role model
“Pick someone in anything, it doesn’t have to be hockey, who does something really well and find out about them,” says Grillo. “Read about their background, their character, their work ethic, and try to emulate that. It’s really important to have role models – people who have attained the kind of goals you want to attain. Figure out how and why they got there. What allowed them to get to that spot?
“There are all kinds of them out there, great athletes and great people – even if it’s a kid within your own association or a high school or college in the area. It doesn’t have to be a pro player. It could be someone just an age group or two ahead of you.”
How do you keep the momentum going during the season’s homestretch? Let us know by tweeting to @Mass_Hockey using the hashtag #MassHockeyMomentum