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Soft Skills with Coach Marchi: Elevate Your Game Away From Sticks and Skates

Follow along as coach Steve Marchi rolls out a series of blogs to help you improve soft skills and how to think about the game away from the X’s and O’s.

There is something about the smell of the rink, the sound of steel cutting through ice, and the snap of a puck that brings absolute joy to a hockey player. At some point, we become obsessed and fall head over heels in love with the game.

Whether it’s a 5am wake-up for mite hockey, bone chilling winter pond hockey, or a midnight beer league game, we can’t help but come back for more fun on the ice.

I started skating 30 years ago (yikes) and still to this day, I can’t look at a stick and a puck without wanting to try something new, work on an old skill, or fire one at the net (who am I kidding, most likely high and wide off the glass).

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It’s in the hockey player’s blood, our DNA, to set goals, work hard, and try to get better at the game we love.

We Learn So Much More From Hockey Than How To Skate And Shoot

Have you ever thought about what makes great players, teams, and organizations? We hear about tight knit teams like the Big Bad Bruins of the 70’s, dynasties like the Islanders and Oilers of the 80’s, and a string of Stanley Cups from dominant teams like the Penguins, Blackhawks, and Kings in the 2010’s.

During the playoffs, announcers (miss you already Doc) regularly talk about the intangibles players and teams bring to the table – leadership, character, grit, resiliency, etc… But, what are these things? 

Soft Skills Are The Intangibles You Learn From The Game

Hard skills are skating, stickhandling, passing, and sniping. The type of skills you learn when you start playing hockey and continue to practice year after year.

Soft Skills are the intangibles you learn from the game, on the ice, in the locker room, and away from the rink. Things like confidence, attitude, mindset, grit, character, resiliency, teamwork, emotional intelligence and adaptability.

Quick Reflection – What Do Your Teammates Think Of You?

How about your coaches? Most importantly, what do you think of yourself?

The last question is one I ask to every player I’ve coached. My role as a coach is to develop strong young men and women, and this is done through soft skill development. Learning the game and working on skating, shooting, and passing is always secondary to me as a coach – and should be for all coaches.

Take some time to really think about those questions. The answers may not be the same. And if you are true to yourself, you may not be comfortable with the answers.

Not to worry, you’re in the right spot. Setting a baseline for yourself and feeling a bit uncomfortable is your first step in becoming a better hockey player and teammate.

You’ll use soft skills learned through hockey well after playing your last big game, so let’s set a foundation together for a lifetime of success.

To learn more, follow along as we roll out a series of blogs to help you improve soft skills and how to think about the game away from the X’s and O’s.

Steve Marchi helps organizations revamp People and Culture initiatives. He’s a lifelong hockey player and coach always chasing a learning journey. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Hockey Players Club Forum: The Best Hockey Content on the Internet

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