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Soft Skills with Coach Marchi: Playing Hockey with Grit

Soft Skills with Coach Marchi: Playing Hockey with Grit

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.

What comes to mind when you think of the word GRIT?

And sorry Philly fans, we aren’t talking about Gritty today – although he’s taken the league by storm since his rookie year. 

For me, a great player example that comes to mind is Jaromir Jagr (one of the NHL 100 greatest players of all-time). At 48 years old, the guy is still putting up points while in his 33rd season of pro hockey. Yes, you read that correctly.

After 33 years of professional hockey, Jags is still punishing his body both mentally and physically to go out and play the game he absolutely loves.

Jagr is known for his relentless workout routine (check out this video). Ever since he was 7 years old, he starting doing 1,000 squats a day. He also is a fan of late-night practices while wearing a weighted vest and ankle weights to improve his strength and work on puck protection.

He is the epitome of Grit – combining his passion for hockey and perseverance to get better every day.

What is GRIT?

Grit has turned Jagr into one of the best hockey players of all time – but how did he get there?

Angela Duckworth, a psychologist, professor, and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania brings a fresh look to the idea of Grit. Her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance is a great read for coaches, parents, and players to understand Grit, and how to develop it from the inside out.

Her passion in life is researching Who is Successful and Why are they Successful. Is it Talent or is it Effort?

Here is a great video review of the book and her research:

The GRIT Equation

Let’s look at how to take your skills and turn them into achievement.

Duckworth and her team have been researching the idea of Grit and came up with the following Grit Equation:

If there is something you are passionate about and you have a bit of talent, you need to put in Effort to develop the Skill.

But then you need to put more Effort into working on your Skill if you want to reach an Achievement.

Talent x Effort will give you Skill. But Skill x Effort will result in Achieving your Goals. 


How do you work on GRIT?

Grit is the sustained application of effort towards a long-term goal. You need to have both Passion and Perseverance in order to achieve your goal.

  1. Develop Your Passion – You have to truly love the game of hockey if you want to work on your Grit and achieve your long-term goals.
  2. Daily Improvement – Finding a way to improve every day is key to success. The first step is showing up, the next step is improving. Find a way to persevere on the days when you don’t feel like it. Set daily goals that align to your long-term goals, and remember there are no days off!
  3. Find a Greater Purpose – Are you just another player on your team, or are you doing what you can to improve the community around you? It took me a long time to find my purpose with Hockey – and that’s to help improve players and coaches and give back to a game that has given me so much. Having a greater purpose helps me be a better coach, mentor, and leader. What is your purpose?
  4. Develop a Growth Mindset – Understanding that you control your own potential will help you improve your Grit and achieve your goals. More on Growth Mindset for Hockey Players in another one of our blogs here:

Let’s look at Jagr’s GRIT

As a young kid he fell in love with hockey. It became his passion and he set a long-term goal to play at the highest level he can, and for as long as he can. He took his Talent and put in daily Effort with his squat routine and both on and off-ice work to develop his Skills. He continues to this day putting in Effort to work on his Skills so he can achieve his goals.

His Grit Factor is strong. No wonder why he is still in love with the game and still playing at the highest level he can.

GRIT Takeaways: Effort Counts Twice and You Need Passion and Perseverance to Achieve Your Goal. Work on your Grit to become a better Hockey Player!

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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.

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