I Hope All Is Well?

Caution: I’m going to go on a little bit of a rant here, but I’ll try to keep it toned down.

One of my most hated expressions in the English language is “I hope all is well”. Closely followed by “warm regards” and “best wishes”.

Why? They reek of insincerity.

If you’re writing an email to someone, it isn’t very hard to dig into your memory bank (or Google) to find out what they are up to and ask a sincere question or make a statement about a recent event in their life. “How was X?” “Hope you had a good time at Y” “Nice win against Z team” etc.

But most people go with “I hope all is well”.

I hope all is well? First off, there are grammatical issues with the removal of the word “that” from the phrase. Secondly, what is all? Do you really hope that everything in my life is going well? Do you hope that I paid my electric bill on time? That my dog had a successful visit to the vet? That my new diet is helping me lose weight? Highly unlikely. You probably don’t hope that bad things befall me, but I’m not sure that you hope and/or care about my personal life on an intimate level.

The double whammy is then closing an email with “warm regards” or “best wishes”. I’m curious…how warm are your regards? Did you put them in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes? Or did you just toast them for a few? At least they didn’t come straight out of the freezer. And regarding your wishes, most people don’t have worst wishes – those are called nightmares.

To me, few things in life are more off-putting than insincerity. Either care or don’t, but don’t fake it.

Expand Your Horizons

Hockey is a territorial sport. Generally speaking, in coaching circles, there are eastern guys and western guys. Players have a tendency to gravitate towards their home area. People get put into boxes, whether it is major junior, DI, pro, etc.

There is something to be said for the familiarity factor this brings. Coaches know their level and the players that would be successful at their level. Players know their teammates and the other players in the region. Scouts get a feel for the talent level and how those players translate to the next level.

At the same time, there is a major drawback to the territorial nature of hockey. You fail to expand your boundaries. You lose out on other perspectives. You stay comfortable, often never stretching beyond your current worldview. Players from different regions have different styles of play. Coaches from different backgrounds teach the game differently, practice differently and bring a different view of the game. Scouts have different eyes for talent, valuing some attributes more than others.

Hockey offers opportunities for you to reach beyond your territory. It takes initiative and some confidence to get outside of your comfort zone and encounter new ideas. Travel to hockey camps outside of your area. Call coaches from different leagues and tap into their ideas about the game. Challenge yourself and your own worldview on a regular basis.

The more your horizon expands, the more your own game grows.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Bobcat 2v1

Bobcat 2v1

A drill that involves a regroup into a 2v1 rush. Defensemen start in the middle of the ice with Forwards at opposite blue lines. The first defenseman exchanges a puck with the first forward in line (black line) while skating backwards. At the top of the circles, the D receives the puck and transitions it to the forward on the opposite side of the ice (green line) who is coming back towards his line. When the F receives the pass from the D, he bumps it to the next forward in line (pink line/pink F). The F coming back towards his line swings to the middle while the F who receives the pass steps out. These two F’s then go and attack the D that was exchanged with initially in a 2v1 rush. The D is attempting to gap up after completing the transition pass to the opposite F.

A quick hitter 2v1 with multiple passes and a gapping element from the defenseman. This drill was a special contribution this week from Steve Needham, Assistant Coach at Wesleyan University.

Analytics – So What?

Analytics. The buzzword in the hockey community these days. Big Data is quickly moving in to the hockey world and changing the way we look at the game. There is no doubt that this will change hockey at a number of levels, but ultimately it’s about winning hockey games.

E vs M

E vs M

Enthusiasm vs Monotony

A daily battle. Who will win? The enthusiasm, passion and energy? Or the dull monotony that day-to-day life can drill into you?

Is today just like yesterday? Do you have a “case of the Mondays?” Are you merely getting through life’s challenges? Monotony is winning the war.

The choices we make every day determine the outcome. What music do you listen to? What articles and stories do you read? What videos are you watching? What conversations are you having (hope or despair)?

These seemingly minor decisions have a major impact on our mood, energy and outlook. Make today the day that Enthusiasm stages a comeback and beings an epic counterattack. Choose your music with intentionality (start the day with something that gets you fired up). Watch videos and read stories about successes. Bring energy to people and talk to those that have a high level of excitement.

One of my favorite phrases of all time belongs to the Harbaugh family: “Attack today with an Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind.”

Pushing Your Limits

05-14-15StillsNorth-R (34)

Three weeks ago I went on a night snorkel with Manta Rays. I am not the biggest fan of the ocean. It was dark and we were in water about 40 feet deep. Who knows what was out there…(sharks?)

DCIM100GOPRO

Sunday, I jumped out of an airplane at 7500 feet. Who knows what could have gone wrong (parachutes anyone?)

High risk activities? You betcha.

Easily two of the most incredible experiences of my life. And two things I never would have thought I would have done 10 years ago.

Both of these things stretched my limits. We all have a fear of the unknown. I had no idea what to expect when I jumped into the warm evening waters of Hawaii. My heart skipped a few beats when the airplane door flew open and I had to stick my foot out on the ledge. Each time, the experience was beyond anything I could have imagined. (as an aside, I highly recommend both – absolutely amazing!!)

If I had said no to these life changing experiences, I wouldn’t have really known the difference. My life the next day would have been relatively similar to the day before. But my life is exponentially improved having done these two things. Jumping out of an airplane at 7500 feet and jumping into dark water 40 feet deep (at night) helped me redefine what it means to be nervous. It also gave me a new definition for amazing.

Every time you step on the ice to play, there is a chance that you may fail. When you try a new move or work on a new skill, there is a risk of failure. There was also a chance that I could be attacked by a shark or that the parachute wouldn’t open. If I had let my fear of danger and failure rule the day then I never would have had the chance to experience amazing. To get to amazing, you have to get past your fear of failure. Pushing your limits usually requires risking failure and a little bit of danger.

You cannot know what else is out there until you stretch your limits to reach beyond the world you presently know.

After these two life changing experiences, I’m excited about the future. I’ve redefined amazing and now know what it truly feels like to conquer fears (I’m afraid of heights and I used to hate the ocean…). I pushed my limits, stretched myself and have a whole new threshold to meet. I challenge you to do the same. Get outside of your comfort zone and grow, whether its your game, your career or your life. You’ll never know what is on the other side until you get there.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Diagonal Timing

Diagonal Timing

A timing/flow drill this week. Warning: This drill will chew up ice quickly when done with older players.

Two lines start on the same side of the ice (black and red X’s). One player starts on the blue line closest to their line, while one player starts on the dot on the opposite corner of the neutral zone. The players all skate in a circle (red players skate counter clockwise, black players skate clockwise). The player at the blue line receives a pass midway through his tight circle and quickly moves the puck to the player at the far dot. The player at the far dot receives the pass and goes in to attack the net. All players follow their pass – the player in the corner who started the passing sequence moves to the blue line, the blue line player moves to the dot, the player who shot returns to his/her line.

This is a continuous drill with players constantly moving from spot to spot. Once it gets moving it self-sustains. The volume of players skating in circles will chew up the ice quickly so coaches need to be aware and limit the number of reps on each side.

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