It was not that long
ago when words like integrity, honor, sportsmanship, respect, and loyalty were
benchmarks for what it took to be a good teammate and hockey player. The emphasis
on those five words may have been eroded for many, but it’s my goal to bring
them back to life.
Hockey has always been
a different kind of sport, because for the most part, it’s more than just a
game, it’s a lifestyle.
Have you ever noticed
that on-ice success and loyalty go together? In other words, if we’re not being
loyal—to our family, friends, country, and team—then we aren’t going to
experience the level of success that is hoped for. Loyal players are honorable.
When you’re loyal, you stick together as a team through thick and thin. When you’re
loyal, you keep your word—even if you get a “better” offer. Loyal players are
respectful of their leaders. They honor their coaches and defend their team.
When you’re loyal, you are a player with integrity. You build trust and
security in coaches, teammates, and everyone else in the game.
Is this an area where
you can grow stronger? Are you loyal to the developmental plan you’ve set for
yourself? Can you be more loyal? Don’t let the distractions of everyday life
keep you from being dedicated. Look for ways to show honor to those around you... and the game. Show commitment by staying loyal to yourself.
For players that truly
love the game, being loyal is easy. Despite the haters, doubters, and naysayers,
the loyal player sticks to the plan and does whatever it takes to prove
them all wrong.
One of the biggest
reasons a player fails to find success in the game is a result of that battle
between the ears. There is serious power in the words that are spoken to yourself;
be loyal and harness that with positive thinking.
Have you ever had a
coach that inspires deep loyalty in you? It’s that rare individual who not only
inspires, but has a rock-solid belief in you as a player. Players never want to
let that coach down and skate with something more in an effort to prove to the
coach that his faith is justified.
We all have seen the
opposite coach, the man that wears the title of head coach, but inspires
players to do little more than the minimum effort. What is it about a coach
that makes players want to shatter glass for him? Loyalty.
A coach that is loyal
to his players fuels their success. When he displays faith in his players, they
will generally rise to the challenge. His loyalty is the best weapon against
The loyal coach that
encourages his players also inspires them. Players reciprocate that
encouragement with loyalty and want to win.
Team leaders that loyally
praise individuals within the team encourage success. Deliver genuine praise at
just the right level at just the right time.
Practice open, honest,
and direct communication to increase loyalty within the team. A lack of
communication causes more problems than almost anything.
Loyal players are not
afraid to help teammates master individual skill-sets, and those actions make a
difference. The best leaders are teachers; everyone is learning when the
leaders are teaching.
"Loyalty, integrity, honesty, and character are things that we certainly look for in a recruit at our level. Players that lack in any of these areas come with red flags, coaches beware, Wenatchee Wild Head Coach Bliss Littler said a few years back. "On the other hand if you are going to a program where a coach lacks these qualities player beware."
Is this an area of the
game where you can elevate higher? Can you be more loyal? Are you faithful in
the things you’re committed to? Don’t let the distractions of everyday life keep
you from pursuing success.
* Disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, Stephen Heisler, and not necessarily the views of JuniorHockey.ca. JuniorHockey.ca does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.