If you have ever watched the NHL network nightly recap show “On the Fly,” you’ll repeatedly hear the analysts refer to players as great leaders. Often, these players are the captains or assistant captains of their respective teams. Do you have to wear a letter to be a great team leader? The answer is no!!
So, what makes a good hockey player also a great team leader? Below are 5 characteristics not only on how to be good at hockey, but also, how to be a team leader, no matter what team you’re playing on.
Consistency – The best leaders are the most consistent performers, both on and off the ice. They are the hardest workers on the ice, and are usually quality human beings off the ice. When coaches recognize consistent, hard work and positive behavior early in the season, it usually results in others wanting to act the same way.
Chooses Words Wisely – Every so often, there will be a player on the team that never shuts up. This person is always talking, is loud, and annoying. Over time, their voice and words just become white noise. A true leader is a great listener and always has the best interest of the team in mind. Speaking less and choosing your words wisely will result in your voice being heard in an impactful way, especially when needed.
Build Up – I don’t care if you have ridiculous hockey skills or are more of a grinder, it’s inevitable that you will have a bad game from time to time. The easiest way to react to a player’s poor performance is to verbally beat them down. Exceptional leaders don’t beat down teammates. Leaders recognize this as an opportunity to support and build their teammate up. Encouragement and positive feedback are critical when teammates are figuring out their own style and how to be good at hockey.
Fearless – There are parts of the game that some players don’t particularly care for or embrace. Two situations on the ice that highlight my point are taking a hit to make a play and blocking shots. The fear of feeling pain or getting hurt is the motivating factor. Leaders on teams are fearless. They will do whatever is required to win that shift and help the team win the game.
Team First – Too often, players focus on their own individual stats, as a benchmark on how they feel and outwardly act. If a player scores points, they are happy. If no points are registered, they are grumpy. This individualist attitude destroys the team culture. When you have a group of players who don’t care about who gets the credit, only that the team wins, well...that’s when magical moments start to happen on a regular basis.
As you can see, there is a big difference between knowing how to be a hockey player and knowing how to be a leader. So, continue to improve in the areas of leadership that you’re good at, as well as areas that you may be lacking. Remember to Work Hard and Dream Bigger than Everyone Else!!
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