As I watched the second intermission show of the Flyers at Toronto Maple Leafs game, TSN commentator Ray Ferraro commented on a point that we have all heard so many times—hit the net! The Leafs had already missed the net 13 times in the first two periods. They were doing a fine job of not giving their team a chance to win on this point alone.
Ferraro also said something to the effect that “The net has been in the same place for over 200 years” and he was marveling on how an entire team could be so inept at getting the puck on the net.
Coaches always stress shooting the puck—and hitting the net. Starting with warming up your goalies at the beginning of a practice, there is little value in shots that miss the net. Coaches do things like making players do pushups or do extra skating when players miss the net during drills. This sometimes helps.
Consistently hitting the net is more of a mental thing than a reflection of physical ability. Having the mindset to get the puck on the net is where a player needs to be. Coaches can help with consistently demanding this in practices. Players who like to score make it a habit to get the puck on the net consistently. Top power plays try to get the puck to the net every time they have the man advantage.
“A shot on goal is never a bad thing.” We all heard that line before.
Oh, by the way, the Leafs continued to miss the net in the third period. They lost 4-1.
Now that the season is under way, each player should be doing his part to be a team player and good team mate. The coaching staff is responsible for presenting and teaching the systems that they want in place. There is another aspect to getting better that falls squarely in the lap of each player—making their individual game better. How do you accomplish this as a player?
The first step for the player—make the decision to develop your talent rather than take it for granted. Sound like a simple decision? It may be for some. Look around your team and see how many players are actually doing things that will make their game better. Which players are getting on the ice early or staying on after practice to work on skills or conditioning? Who is going to the gym for a workout when the team has a day off?
Here is a simple formula for a player to follow; spend ten minutes each day making an individual strength stronger and making a weakness a non-factor is your overall game. If you have a great shot, then make it more accurate. If you need to work on pivots to the left, then devote time at end of practice on pivot technique.
Don’t let excuses stop you from getting better. There is enough time each day. There is no need for special equipment to get better. There is nobody who can put the effort in your game but you. Don’t let excuses hinder your development.
As each player gets just a little bit better, it would be safe to say the team gets a little bit better. Work on your individual skills and everyone benefits. Go team!