Sunday’s Olympic Gold Medal battle between the U.S. and Canada was one of the best hockey games I’ve ever seen. I was disappointed that the Americans couldn’t pull it out, but it’s hard to complain about a game like that. Hopefully the excitement will drive more deserved attention to the greatest sport on Earth (and most other planets too…).
I was fortunate to watch at least part of every hockey game during these Olympics. Hopefully hockey players and coaches around the world were just as fortunate because there were a TON of great hockey lessons to be learned.
1) Hunger Eats Talent. Two of the best games I saw during the Olympics were the Czech Republic vs. Latvia, and Slovakia vs. Norway. Both games had one thing in common, one team was DRASTICALLY outmatched by the other. Norway had 1 NHL player on its roster. Latvia had two. I’d be surprised if you’ve heard of any of them. Despite the lopsided rosters, Norway and Latvia battled to the end and almost pulled out INCREDIBLE upsets. They were hungry. They wanted to win more. To be more patriotic, this is the same reason that the U.S. beat Canada in the preliminaries AND the 1980 USSR team (the greatest sporting event ever). Never give up on a game. Be a “hungry” player every shift of every game. That type of attitude is contagious. Hungry teams win championships. You want that.
2) Throw everything on net. The announcers said early that Luongo didn’t look steady. He didn’t. Every shot had a rebound. The U.S. scored two suspect goals that resulted from just throwing pucks at the net. Of more interest to my Canadian friends, look at Crosby’s last goal! Ryan Miller was the Olympic MVP. He was almost unbeatable on first shots. Crosby threw a quick, but generally unimpressive shot on net and won a Gold Medal for his country. Too many players try to get too fancy around the net. Wayne Gretzky wisely pointed out that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Throw it on net, especially in big games and towards the end of the game. Nerves are high. Goalies are tired. A goal is a goal. Don’t miss an opportunity to score.
3) Speed dominates. Zach Parise stood out every shift he was on the ice. He wasn’t the biggest player. He didn’t have the hardest shot. He stood out because he was ridiculously fast. I don’t want to under-emphasize other skills like having good hands and being able to read the play, but if you’re too slow to create enough time to use your good hands, it won’t matter. To compete at the highest levels of hockey, you need to be fast. To dominate at those levels, you need to be faster.
Play fast. Play smart. Play hungry. Win.
P.S. If you want to follow a specific training program to help you develop game-changing speed, register for a membership with Hockey Training Expert. It’s only $9.95/month and has training programs you can start to follow immediately, straight through until next season.
Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.