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Soft Skills with Coach Marchi: Developing a Growth Mindset as a Hockey Player


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Follow Coach Steve Marchi runs a series of blogs to help you improve general skills and think about the game away from the X’s and O’s.

In your hockey career, you will hear coaches and parents say that such and such was “born to be a hockey player” or “he is a natural talent”. You might see some of these players level up and succeed, but more often than not the flame of talent is extinguished.

And Geez, it might be you – so stick around and read this blog.

Even at the highest level of our game, there is a running list of NHL Draft Busts. I’m not a big fan of watching a player’s shortcomings, but learn from them when we can. You can’t become a better hockey player just through talent – tough skills. There’s a lot more to the recipe for success – the soft skills and the intangibles that you learn from the game.

What makes the best players BIG?

Do you think they were born with talent and just rode the wave to be NHL superstars? Or do you think there is a burning desire inside the player to be awesome? Something that slowly develops over years of practice, play, victory, loss and failure – developing strong character, courage and resilience along the way?

🚨 News flash 🚨 – Players with a growth mindset have the opportunity to grow up. The players who truly become students of the game, who see hockey as a constant learning journey and who focus on their growth every day are the ones who are successful.

This concept is put simply by The Great One. You have seen this quote before, but I bet without advance:

Learning and a focus on growth is a foundational general skill that made Gretzky Great.

What is the difference between a growing mindset and a fixed mindset?

Growing mindset and fixed mindset are terms that were formalized by Carol Dweck, psychologist and researcher at Stanford University. His book, Mentality, is definitely worth a read for coaches, parents and players of all ages.

Having a fixed mindset is the belief that your skills and talent are completely set in stone, set in stone, and limit your potential for growth. (Think of the talented ‘born’ player who never worked to level up).

Having a growth mindset is the belief that your skills and talent are constantly evolving, allowing you to grow and develop through practice and persistence. (Think of the underdog player or the undrafted NHL star).

Assess your state of mind

When you show up at the rink, what state of mind do you have? Let’s dig deeper:

  • Are you there to improve yourself every day?
  • Do you feel like you are in control of your own destiny?
  • Do you have micro-goals to accomplish every day, every workout and every week?
  • Do you measure them to show you your progress?

If so, you are working with a Growth mindset and that’s something to be proud of. But also know that growth is a constant journey – and your goal should be to improve and grow every day.

  • Are you a player who thinks you are being held back because of your coach? Maybe your parents?
  • Do you think you haven’t had your big break?
  • Do you feel stuck on a line you don’t want to be on?
  • Maybe a team you think you’re too good at?
  • Is the season not going in your direction?

If this is the case, there is a good chance that you are stuck in a Fixed state of mind. But don’t worry, the state of mind is something that can be changed – it takes hard work and an open mind ready to learn and grow.


No one knows what your potential is except you

– Pavel Barber


Praise your process – not the end result

When setting your goals, if the end result is success, that’s great. Enjoy it for a moment, then set yourself the next goal and the new challenge.

If the end result is failure, take it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and rethink your process and give it another chance. Believe in the power of “Again– where you haven’t necessarily failed, but you haven’t achieved your goal, just “yet”.

Here’s an example – big game against your rival, he’s tied with a few seconds left, you get the puck in the slot on your backhand and drop a horrible muffin and lose your shot to win the game.

A fixed state of mind might say “I just don’t have a setback” or “If I had had it on my forehand …And accept failure as the limit of their potential.

The Growth Mindset would say “I need to work my backhandAnd put a plan in place. Over the next month or so, you’ll focus on improving your backhand with a routine like pulling 50 backhand shots a day, sending and receiving backhand passes, and working your non-dominant hand-eye and strength.

How to take a backhand kick – tips and exercises for a dangerous backhand

Next time you have that backhand in the slot, maybe you score, maybe you don’t – but if you trust your process and know your backhand has improved. , know that you are preparing for a better chance to score.

You’ve also strengthened your ability to set a goal, make a plan, focus on discipline and resilience, and build confidence in your game.

Focus on learning, growing and becoming a student of the game. Know that you are in control of your potential and work hard every day to achieve your goals.

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Steve marchi helps organizations reorganize people and culture initiatives He is a longtime hockey player and coach, always looking for a learning path. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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