Youth Hockey: A Platform for Invaluable Life Skills

Scott Murray is the player-coach-GM of Thailand's fabled expat hockey squad, the Flying Farangs. He is also the Vice President of the Siam Hockey League and a lifelong hockey fan and aficionado, remembering attending original six games at Maple Leaf Gardens. 

Organized hockey teaches life skills that you just can’t find elsewhere. All young players need help at first to get interested in the game, but after that it’s their own initiative that is going to play a huge role on how hockey impacts their life. 

So let’s look at some of those life skills. First of all, there’s self-discipline. There’s bound to be early morning practices in cold arenas and although parents will be driving kids to those games & practices the kids very early on have to play and practice and do drills that they may not want to. 

Then, there’s responsibility. Again, parents will play a huge role in dressing a young player at first, but soon they will be putting on their own gear and tying up their own skates. They will be responsible for keeping their equipment clean, bringing it to the rink and keeping their changing area clean.     

Players also learn responsibility on the ice, especially when it comes to defensive play. Picking up the opposing winger, playing defense, helping protect your goalie. This diligence makes young players aware they must look out for others not just themselves as they grow up.

One of the most important life skills a young player learns is teamwork.

Hockey is not an individual game like tennis or golf. You must depend on your teammates to be successful. You must find ways to get along with other teammates even if you don’t agree with everything they say or do. Passing the puck, instead of trying to go through everyone; handing out compliments when teammates, and even opposing players, make good plays; owning up to your own mistakes are skills that come into play later in life.      

There’s no room for being selfish in hockey and the ability to be a team player comes in handy much later in life, not just on the ice rink but in corporate boardrooms and office environments. 

Another great trait that hockey teaches is respect. While there is still some unfortunate taunting that goes on – mostly from spectators – it doesn’t matter what colour your teammate’s skin is, where their parents come from or if they are big or small. All that really matters is that they are a good kid,   work hard  and enjoy the game.      

Hockey in many ways is a microcosm of life; you win some, you lose some.

Learning how to win and lose graciously is another life skill that can be invaluable later in life.                         

There are so many life skills to learn from the game of hockey.  BYHB will look more in depth at these skills in the future and how you can integrate them into your teams and children.

Header picture credit: Tadamasa Nagayama