Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo has been helping coach his two kids and the East Ridge girls’ and Woodbury boys’ high school teams. While the talent level isn’t NHL caliber, many of Yeo’s coaching philosophies and beliefs resonate from the youth levels all the way up to the game’s highest ranks.
Here are five ways to get Yeo’s attention, on and off the ice.
5. Use your strengths. All players are different. Not everybody can be the fastest skater or the best shooter. The ones that are able to utilize their strengths and incorporate them into a game effectively will help contribute more to the team. Figure out what works for you, but as a younger player, it’s still important to work on all skills as you develop and grow.
4. Have a real desire to improve. A lot of kids might be really good when they’re really young. Some are maybe a step behind. The ones that have a real desire to improve, to learn the game, to work on aspects of their game and listen to their coaches – these are the kids that really improve or advance as you get up into the older ages. And it becomes more and more important as you start working your way up the ranks.
3. Show that you’re a team player. Play within the team concept. Play for your teammates. Move the puck well and put yourself in positions where you’re supporting the puck. Everybody has their own unique skills. To show that you’re going out there and playing for your teammates and doing what they’re counting on you to do is very important.
2. Work ethic. Work ethic is a staple. If you want to advance and if you want to move up in levels, a strong work ethic is essential. If you don’t have the work ethic in practice, if you don’t have the work ethic in a game, if you don’t have the work ethic off the ice, then you’re not going to see the same results that other people will. It is without question one of the most important qualities needed in every hockey player.
1. Passion for the game. Somebody who just loves going to the rink, loves practice, loves games, loves talking about hockey and just wants to be a hockey player. Those are the types of people that seem to keep pushing their way up and keep getting better. Without that passion, without that love for the game, everything else is pointless.
While a very small, limited number of youth hockey players will make it to the game’s highest levels, the lessons hockey provides all of its participants can be applied for life. So listen to your coaches, work hard, be a team player and enjoy the ride.
“There are so many benefits to playing this game,” Yeo said. “To me, there’s not a game that’s any more fun than this one. When you play a team game – and I’ve played a lot of team games – you never end up as close with those teammates as you do with your hockey teammates. As much as anything else, the skills and traits you develop help you in the rest of your life. Whatever job you want to pursue, when you start talking about work ethic and teamwork and discipline and commitment and all the words we use so frequently in hockey, it really helps to set you down the right path.”