You can probably find a trillion articles out there about the physical benefits of playing hockey (or any sport, for that matter). Hockey specifically allows you to sharpen your ability to think quickly, offers myriad cardiovascular benefits, increases your strength across the board and provides you with one of the most versatile workouts you can find on the planet.
But what about the off ice benefits of playing hockey? Of course, the physical improvements and gains you accrue for your body can translate to other sports, but how does hockey benefit a player off the ice? What are the tools you can collect from years of playing hockey to utilize in your every day, non-sports life? Let’s explore.
1. Teamwork - You know how every NHL’er basically says the same stuff to the media, over and over again? It does get repetitive, to the point where we did a commercial satire with the Buffalo Sabres Tyler Ennis about it last season. How many times have you heard pro players talk about staying healthy, playing tighter in the neutral zone or getting more traffic in front of their goalie? Hundreds.
The one thing that always holds water, though, is when those players talk about hockey being a team game. That’s called truth. On the ice as well as off, it’s rare that you can accomplish meaningful things totally on your own. Teamwork is the most important thing you can master and hockey provides you some very meaningful practice in the art.
Think about working unselfishly together in groups for a class. Or tackling a project at work with co-workers, where you need to rely on other people’s skills. Sound familiar? You can draw from on your experiences on the ice throughout the years to contribute meaningfully and then celebrate when your work pays off. Just like in hockey.
2. Never Say Die – last year I wrote in some detail about a comeback that I still remember from 30+ years ago, where we were down 7-1 in a game and came back to win. To have this game so imprinted into my mind and so clear like it happened yesterday must have some kind of deeper meaning, right? Of course. It clearly shows the power of not giving up.
If I’m ever in a real-life jam of some kind where things aren’t going my way, I do often pull this memory out of the vault and refer to it and try to draw some inspiration from it. Because if you can come back with your teammates from what looks like certain doom, you can do it with your classmates, with yourself or with your co-workers. Use your hockey memories to drive your never-say-die attitude.
3. Screwing Up - that’s right. This is actually a huge character-builder, but only if you let it be. If you have years and years of youth hockey, high school or even college hockey experience under your belt, you know the feeling when you are the reason your team lost the game. It’s not a good feeling. The key, though, is how you channel it. If you’re the one who sulks for weeks and then goes back on the ice each time focused on NOT making the mistake, then you are off your game. Same applies to real life. Own up to your mistakes, learn from them and you’ll have a lifetime off-ice benefit from being a hockey player.
What other hockey-influenced traits do you believe contribute to your life off the ice? Leave a comment and tell us yours!