What will my child learn from Hockey?

So many times I am asked that question. It seems like parents are consumed with trying to help their children get to the highest levels of hockey and they sometimes forget what is really being learned that is important.
The brutal reality is that so very few ever to play professionally at any level. If you want to see some sobering statistics visit NHL Alumni Member Phil Myre’s recent blog. It is excellent.
www.philmyretalkshockey.com .
 Here is one paragraph that kind of hits you between the eyes.
“The “bench mark” to be considered a legitimate NHL player is 250 games, or about 3 seasons. In the ten years going from the 1998 draft to the 2007 draft, 2640 players were selected by NHL teams. From that total, only 256 players played 250 games in the NHL or 9.7%. If we round up, 10% of the best prospects in the world become NHL players.”
Kind of scary for some parents when they really break down the numbers.
But here is what can’t be lost. Besides playing at the absolute highest levels, what does hockey teach people that lasts them their entire lives?
I decided to ask some good friends from the world of Hockey their opinions on this topic. I asked eight former players to tell me in just a few sentences what did they learn from the game and what is lasting with them today. Some of these players played a lot in the NHL, some won Stanley Cups, some played just a while and others never played in the NHL but did play hockey for a lot of years. All of them are pretty successful business people post hockey playing days. Their answers are very interesting and should be noted by all hockey parents.

Player 1

“During a hockey season you have up and downs but I’ve learned if you keep an even head about yourself you won’t  get too high or too low.  This brings me to my next point…..Hard work and dedication. It’s tougher than people think to play an 80 game season with the travel, ups and downs and taking your body through hell each night and waking up the next day and doing it again. With over 1200 games I only missed 1 due to sickness and a handful to injury.
How to be a team player……hockey players have the ability to think team first (unless your in a contract year..just kidding)  with Europeans, Canadians and Americans all thrown in together to make up a team you realize that you better get along and care for one another or it will be an early summer.  This concept I have kept with me after hockey and it’s helped my ability in business.”
Player 2
“I have learned a lot from my hockey experience that has helped me in life after hockey. I have learned that practice, routine, dedication, team-play, drive, believe in yourself and mental preparation are all things you need to have to become a successful business executive. I have also used my communication, constant follow up and extensive alumni friends to open doors in different markets. I’m thankful for my hockey training to prepare me for success in anything that I set my mind to.”
Player 3
“If there is one thing I use today in business that I have learned from professional sports…it is TEAMWORK…without it, you don’t stand a chance
In hockey each member of the team thinks differently and performs differently. One must understand the individuality of players, and the dynamic of the groups interaction, to asses their strengths and weaknesses and use them to their fullest potential within the context of the team or in business. It will encompasses confidence,assertiveness, and mutual respect.”

Player 4
“The main thing I continue to be reminded of is that for fans of the sport of hockey, memories of individual achievements on the ice are seldom as vivid and long-lasting as those created by group accomplishments. My best years statistically (by a mile) were accomplished after I left the Flyers. I was only 24 when traded away and had my prime years still ahead of me so it stood to reason that good things lay ahead. I also became a bigger fish in a smaller pond, once no longer surrounded by championship depth. But regardless of all things individual, I am still most remembered for being a member of 2 Stanley Cup winning teams in Philadelphia.

I imagine the lesson is this – legacies are deeper and last longer if we are willing to sacrifice our individual agendas for the success of the group.”

Player 5

“First get an education, I mean a real education….I mean reading, writing, math, and answer to deadlines. You don’t have to go to school to get educated. READ BOOKS!
Get realistic,  the hockey world covers up a lot, I mean a lot if you’re a good player!
Respect money….and don’t be in a rush to act like you know it all…Cherish being a member of a team and a good team person. That is the most important thing I learned from the game that is so valuable in the real world.
Hockey is a great stepping stone for a lot of different things but that is all it is. There is so much more to life than just the game.”

Player 6

“Playing pro hockey taught me how to deal with adversity in my life. There are many ups and downs in a professional season and things don’t always go as planned so you need to learn to forget your mistakes and move on. You can’t dwell on the past.  Very much similar to life outside of hockey.  Hockey teaches you how to be a team player no matter what level you play until. Always remember that.”
Player 7“Hockey taught me mental toughness. It is a game that at a lot of times never goes the way you expect it to. So does life. It taught me to deal with things, remain positive and get ready for the next game. (challenge)
It taught me to interact with and work with teammates whether they were your friends or not. Learn to get the job done. That is what life and business demand. Thanks Mom and Dad for signing me up when you did!!!!”
Player 8

“After graduating from a major Division I college I had the fortune of playing 5 years of professional hockey. As most of my friends went on to start traditional careers in the work force I took a slightly different path that ultimately served me very well when it came time for me to enter the work force. Hockey at the professional level is a tremendous training ground for life in the “real world”. To play at a professional hockey you need to be extremely competitive, tough and work hard on and off the ice. It is these same skills that are required to be successful in this ever changing, fast paced world we live in today. In addition to the life skills learned, professional hockey afforded me the opportunity to forge lasting relationships with people from every background imaginable. It is these “life lessons” that can’t be learned in a classroom and stay with you for life.”

Guys, Thanks so much for letting me lean on you for this weeks content. The great thing is that I am sure if I had asked EIGHTY players, most of the answers would be pretty close to what these gentlemen said. Well done.

Parents, don’t get too worked up about where your little player is going to end up playing. Look at these answers and focus on what they are learning that will be with them the rest of their lives!
More Good Stuff
Make sure you check out my friend Brian Riggs article on Leadership featuring former NHL Player Rod Brind’amour as well as information on the great charity that he is involved with, Fantasy Sports 4 Kids!


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