Hockey is a very complex sport and it is evolving tremendously compared to the how it was in the '80s and ‘90s. Hockey today looks completely different. The players are bigger, faster and have way more skill. Coaches have evolved their coaching strategies and scouts are looking for more specific skills in a higher level than ever.
You can be big, fast and a player who knows how to put the puck in the back of the net but there's so much more to it, so much more to what will determinate wether you’ll get drafted or not.
Heres 5 things that will help you stand out and make you a great hockey player.. if you put in the work.
Hockey sense is commonly used to describe a player who appears to anticipate what is about to happen on the ice and then reacts a bit sooner than the other players. It basically is an instinct that gives players the ability to read and anticipate the play quickly.
Usually talking about this topic the first player that comes to mind is Wayne Gretzky. Some people with a false belief that hockey sense can’t be taught will say that Gretzky was born with a gift, born to be great in some way disregarding all the hard work he put in every single day.
Hockey sense is the hardest skill to learn and teach, but without that you won't become great. You can train and become a fast skater, but if you wont know when and where to skate it won’t do much good.
Usually with the right drills and participation in games this instinct comes naturally. However, hockey sense can also be worked on by studying games, paying attention to players positions, reactions, trying to understand where they’ll go before they do.
Ability to shoot
Unless you are a goalie, you have to know how to shoot well to be a great hockey player. There's two things that shows if your shot is good or not - speed and accuracy, and as obvious as it sounds, scouts are always looking at every players shooting ability.
Speed of the shot doesn’t only mean the speed of the puck after you’ve released it, but the release itself. Fast release gives less time for goalie to make the save or for the players to block the shot.
The faster the puck leave the blade of the stick, the bigger possibility of you scoring the goal. However, without accuracy, no matter the speed or the power that you put in your shot, your shot will be useless which makes accuracy the most important part of the shot.
Selfless, hard and smart passes
As the game is evolving, reaction time is getting shorter and the speed players are skating in is growing which means that slow passes won’t cut it anymore. No player will ever be faster than the puck no matter how hard they try.
The idea is that you always have to gain something from the pass. Either you pass it to your teammate to cut off opponents, or because your teammate has a better scoring opportunity, but make sure it always reaches the destination as if it was a shipment - fast and accurate.
Hard and well thought through passes is also something scouts pay a lot of attention to. In the high speed of the game you need to be able to make quick decisions that will help your team and sometimes put your selfishness away and sacrifice the chance for you to score if your teammate is in a better position.
The main thing in hockey is to score a goal, that's what everyone trains for and that's what wins games and championships. Because of that with bad coaching and parenting young players from the get-go get selfish and mainly focus on attacking.
No matter the position you need to play on the defensive side and not just focus on putting the puck in the net, because that won’t win the game if you can’t defend your own net.
Main things to defensive play and for you to get noticed by scouts is to use your body, gap up, read the game and position yourself properly.
Your skill level isn’t all that matters. Many will say that it's the most important trait any hockey player must have for them to have any hopes of advancing to a significant point in their careers.
Since hockey is a team sport your attitude is part of the foundation that the entire team stands on. It's not a secret that on-ice selfishness, poor body language and other negative traits never goes unnoticed and often outweighs talent and skill.
Of course every player under consideration has to have the skill and determination to compete at any particular level really, but their character will most likely be as the last thing that will determinate wether or not you’ll get the opportunity to play on the team of your dreams.
These are five things that will help you become a better hockey player. However, it's not guaranteed that you will get scouted if you do everything mentioned above.
Besides all that, you still need good work ethics and to be strong not just physically but also mentally, and sometimes just being in the right place and time can make your dreams come true.