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  • Writer's pictureRick Traugott

Developing Good Habits Away From the Rink

As coaches, we talk to our players regularly about good habits on the ice. Good habits can be anything from skating hard to the bench on changes, to always battling for a loose puck. There are many habits that players have to develop to be successful in hockey and as coaches we need to instill these habits as best we can.

A parent once referred to me, coaching her player, as a caregiver to her son. It had never really occurred to me before the conversation that, as coaches, we are indeed caregivers to the players on our teams. We are teaching, guiding, motivating, mentoring, inspiring, encouraging, training and instructing young minds - whether they are 8 years old or 20 years old. And it harkens the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child.”

As such, I have come to the realization that it is our responsibility to help develop good habits away from the rink as well. One thing I have always tried to help with is good nutrition at home. My standard line to players is that they should be eating a colourful plate of food at meals. There needs to be greenery, some yellow and maybe even some orange (and I always point out that Cheetos don’t count as orange!). My thoughts this week also turned to a great video piece I saw entitled “Navy Seal Admiral Shares Reasons to Make Your Bed Everyday” ( It runs 1:41 but is part of a larger video that is easily accessed online. In it, Naval Admiral William H. McRaven explains why the act of making your bed in the morning is such an important habit and it will become the first item on my list below.

A few things led me to putting the list together. First, all three of my teenaged kids are home at the same time all summer! Second, I have tried my best to have good habits myself for the past few months with respect to eating and exercise and third, the school year has started and I am now in the midst of 450 high school students, living on campus, and looking for some routine - and in many cases guidance to find some discipline.

So, here is my list of “off the ice” habits that, as coaches, we should be helping our players develop. This list is not exhaustive but a good start and easily accomplished.

Every day habits:

1) Make your bed. (See above) 2) Put all dirty clothing in a laundry hamper, not on the floor. 3) Eat a good breakfast. 4) Submit all your school work that is due. 5) Wash (or put in the dishwasher) all dishes that you used outside of meal time. 6) Take all your “stuff” from common spaces at home to your room. (Or simply, put your stuff away!) 7) Do your homework. 8) “Unplug” for an hour in the evening. No electronics. 9) Go to bed at a descent time and read a book. 10) Set a real alarm clock. Leave your electronics elsewhere (not in your room) to charge overnight.

Once a week habits:

1) Do a chore that is not on “your” list. 2) Write a thank you note and mail or deliver it. (Not electronic.) 3) Phone a relative (an aunt, grandfather, cousin) just to say hello. Leave a message if they don’t answer. 4) Go for a 30 minute walk and just enjoy being outside. 5) Do one thing ahead of time (e.g. an assignment for next week)

Click here to download a Word document checklist that you can edit and give to your players to use each week. At the end of the day, your players will develop better habits away from the rink and this will undoubtedly translate to good habits at the rink and on the ice as well.

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