Posts Tagged ‘attitude’

This is a question that I’ve pondered on and off for a long time. Maybe part of it is that during conversations with family and non-hockey playing friends I often get asked why do I still play, despite my rather lengthy list of injuries and the commitment hockey takes.


As a player, I’ve lived by the ethos that I will do anything that the team asks of me and commit myself 100% to the season. Before having kids it was easy to make that commitment and now, where I still make it, I always factor in the desires of the family. As long as they are happy for me to carry on playing and putting that level of commitment in, then I’ll always sign. Additionally I ask myself if I have the spark and the desire to put in that level of commitment. If I can’t give 100% of myself, physically and emotionally, then there’s no point me wasting my coaches time, my teammates time and my time. Yes, during the season there are times when you want to say “fuck it” and give up, but there’s always been a desire to give two fingers to those thoughts and battle on.


Hockey is a sport that takes a lot. An awful lot. Not only is there the games and trainings during the season, but there’s also the conditioning work that takes place during the summer, during the season and any functions that the team has for fans and so on (OK I don’t attend many nights out, because I’m old and ugly and need all the beauty sleep I can get). Hockey takes up your weekends from September to April. The season literally consumes you and your free time and mind.


But what has hockey actually given back to me?


I’ll try and look at this from beyond just winning and friendships, though the first thing hockey has given me are the friendships, but it has given deeper meaning to it as well.


There’s nothing quite like sharing the comradery of a team and the fan-base that the team has. During the years I’ve played, I’ve made friends with people I probably wouldn’t have hung-out with and have discovered great personalities through the game. This in turn has opened me to be more accepting of people and has allowed me to in greater or lesser extent let go of some prejudices that I may have subconsciously held.


Hockey has also given me a family. Literally. I met my wife on a team night out when I was playing for the Southampton University team. Since meeting her and ultimately marrying her, we have had two wonderful children and she and the kids have added more meaning to life. But in addition, hockey has given me another family in the community that has been built around the team I play for.


Hockey has given me work ethic. The game in itself is honest. If you don’t put the work in, you will find the result on the scoreboard and you’ll feel quite shitty about it and yourself. The same applies to work outside of the rink. The game has taught me a lot about how to approach challenges and how to tolerate stress and disappointment. It has taught me that you keep going until you reach the ultimate goal.


It has given me resilience and perseverance: I’ve had a fair few injuries and I’ve persevered through them, always wanting to come back better and stronger. At times it has been difficult, sure, but at the end of the day I’ve learnt to rise above the pain and fight my way back into game shape. Hockey has also given me a higher than average pain threshold. Being able to play a game with a severe disc prolapse, playing a whole season with a fully torn labrum and ruptured bicep tendon takes some guts but you push through it, because you want to help the team win.


Additionally the game has taught me about health: About 4 years ago I realised that if I didn’t change the way I trained, the way I ate – and more importantly what I ate – I would not last a year. Since then I have discovered a healthier lifestyle and have managed to cut out many habits I had in the past. Because of hockey, I am now more conscious about the dietary choices I make on a daily basis and the way I listen to my body and maintain it – even if at times it seems like I disregard the body’s warning. I’m not an elite athlete, but I would like to think that I approach training and diet from a more athletic point of view.




Yes, hockey does take and demand a lot of you, but if you look beyond, it does give back an awful lot as well. I consider myself fortunate to be able to play and keep learning more.

I have, in the past few weeks, written a good few season wrap up posts, but have been equally displeased with all of them, hence why none of them have been published. Few of them said nothing and were absolute drivel and few turned into a massive thank you post. So here goes another crack at it. As the season wrapped up, I had a mixed set of feelings. On one hand I was happy that the season was over and I could give the body (specially the head) the rest it direly needed, but on the other hand it was a sad occasion. Not only because the season had wrapped up, but as one of the writers, David Carr, for Pro Hockey News said: It is the end of a chapter. As I emptied my locker and looked around the room, I realised that it was the last time that the group of guys from 2010-2011 would be together (apart from the end of season party).


Personally the season was a roller coaster ride and personally I’m a bit disappointed with the way I produced, specially in light of the statistics. I had higher expectations for myself and scoring five goals wasn’t something that I had in mind. I think I had chances to score more than that, but just couldn’t get the job done. The frustration really boiled over on the Isle of Wight where my best chance beat the goalie but came off the far post. My personal highlight has to be the tying goal that I scored against Basingstoke with 2.7 seconds remaining in the third.


Despite the results, I think the two games we played against Basingstoke this year were the best hockey we played as a team. Even if we lost the home game 6-1 the compete level was there from the start. Then of course there was the home win against Peterborough which was another good showing, but the league took that from us. Even if we finished bottom of the league, each and every guy can be proud of themselves and the way we developed. Looking at what we started with and the finished product, there was a HUGE improvement.


But you know what, despite the results, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Despite my age, I think I came through in leaps and bounds as a player this year and it was good to play this level of hockey once more and it showed me that I still have several years left in me. (Providing I can keep this wreck of a body together). The season reminded me how much hard work is required at this level and I can only thank our coach for instilling a hard work ethic in the team from early on. I said at the start of the year that I liked his style and I stand by that, despite the amount of crawling or bag skating we did.


I’m grateful for the opportunity to have played for the team and I could go on thanking numerous people for making it possible, but I’d like to think that they are aware of my gratitude.


As I’m gearing up for a summer without any hockey to be played, I’m not going to lounge around on the couch and barbeque to the excess. I’ve got 6-12 weeks of physio to rehab my hip and a lot of healing still to do on the head department it would seem. Where things are on the up after the concussion, I still suffer from intermittent headaches and I have trouble concentrating. So needless to say I’m taking a bit of time off the ice for a month or so, though I’ve started off ice training already. In hindsight, I should’ve sat out the remaining games of the season, due to the concussion but me being me, I had to play and had to prove something to myself (what I’m not exactly sure of), but if you’re gonna be dumb and all that…


The end of season party was a good way to wrap up the year. Though the aftermath is staggering. There were 40 empty bottles of beer and whatnot in our hotel room the day after and I felt like I had been ran over by a train. Still though, many a good laughs were had and it was awesome to see some of the guys get their trophies and they were thoroughly deserved.


So what now for the blog? Well you might read ramblings of gym training and updates on how the summer has gone, you know, the real sort of school girl diary type stuff. Not really, but we’ll see. It might be a bit quiet on that front as I think of new content and hopefully make it a bit more visual. There’s still a lot going on in the hockey world. Stanley Cup play offs, World Championships, my wife’s games and I’m sure I’ll be watching my old team, The Cougars a few times over the summer as well.


Same again next year?

I hate losing. I think it’s apparent from my psyche and the way I react to a defeat, especially if we lose in a way that is humiliating or where we did not put up a fight. People who I’ve played with, or coached in the past know that I live and breathe the game and I can’t stand lacklustre attitudes, or if some one is playing like they’re in gumdrop land. Yes I do throw, what you may call, tantrums but I do it only because I care and because I want to play with intensity and show the fire I’ve got towards the game every time I’m on the ice.

So with that prologue in mind, we lost quite badly and embarrassingly at the weekend. In what seemed like a game we could win with ease, I feel lacked some core fundamentals, both in the way we executed and on a spiritual level as well. 

I think there are three core competences that each hockey player or a team needs.

  1. Confidence is key to everything. If you are not a confident player, chances are you are over thinking the game and plays. Every time you have to start thinking about plays or your responsibilities on the ice you will crumble and ruin the whole system you are playing. Not only that, but if you have no confidence, you are likely to lose board battles, lose loose pucks and your whole being just exudes fear and lack of belief.
  2. Sense of deserving: Players and teams who have a sense of deserving have a chance to win every night. They feel that they deserve to win, they deserve the puck. On an individual level, players feel like they deserve to score and will take the shots on net. They think with the mentality that ‘that is my puck, you are not going to get it away from me, until you dig it out of your net.’
  3. Pride: Without pride, what would you have? Or better yet, why would you turn up to training? If you don’t have pride in what you do and you don’t have the occasional explosion of anger, even if against your own team mate, you really should be looking to change your skates for something else. Pride means everything. Players should feel honoured to wear a jersey of their team. They should feel pride in the fact that they are able to compete in hockey, but most of all, they should be proud to be part of a family, their team.

 So whit those three things in mind, what did we present on Friday? I think lack of confidence. We hardly took any shots and to me, that has always been a sign of an unconfident team. I often ponder why people don’t shoot and play a straight forward game, but it is all down to confidence. When you have a clear lane for a shot and you choose to pass, it tells me and your team mates that you have no confidence in your own ability, you’re moving responsibility because you feel that you don’t deserve to score. That is, in essence what our whole team was. 17 players (with a few exceptions) who were unconfident, had no sense of deserving and little or no pride to display.

As I’m still trying to get over the fact that we had a horrible game and we lost, I have to acknowledge that it was only a pre-season friendly and we have time to weed out the problems we had. On a personal note, I need to speak to the coach as well and make sure he understands my point of view of the game and that we address the attitude problems that are evident with some of the players on the team.