With the new season starting up, we're all excited to get back to playing, watching or just enjoying hockey. With the new season comes new opportunities, new leagues, new teams - and for many that means it's their rookie season. No matter where you play or at what level, at some point in your hockey career you will be a rookie. It can be overwhelming at times, possibly playing in a new city or with a new team so here is a survival guide to help get you through your rookie season.
Depending on your team and skill level, you are going to have practice at least a couple of times a week. If we’re all being honest here, no one truly likes practice (I know I didn't) but all great players spend hours practicing. To make practice a little less dreadful and to help it run smoothly, rookies usually get stuck with the little extra jobs.
Filling water bottles: Somebody has to do it! Make sure it's cold water – no one likes the warm stuff.
Pegging nets: The sooner the nets are in place, the sooner you can get to shooting.
Puck cleanup: At the end of practice someone has to pick up the pucks, and sadly, it's usually the rookies.
Dressing room cleanup: Whether you’re always in the same locker room or you just rent it for the session, it's the rookies’ job to make sure that the room is clean before they leave. Pick up those tape balls, sweep the floor, and grab the garbage.
Keep the Veterans Happy
It is very unlikely that your team is going to be made up of all rookies, so you're going to be the young kid coming up. One of the main things you can remember is to keep the vets happy. You do not want to get on a vet’s bad side, as you will regret it when it comes to rookie initiation. If a vet tells you to do something just do it, don't complain, and don’t argue. Next season you’ll be the one bossing everyone around.
Show No Weakness
This tip kind of goes with the point above, but remember to not show weakness. You are going to have eyes on you at all times, just waiting for you to do something that they can hold against you. If they do find something, learn to laugh at yourself. Your teammates mean no harm to you, it's all fun & games. They're just testing you to see how much you can take. A good motto is to “take it now or take it all year.”
You are a hockey player! What is there not to be confident about? Be confident - not cocky - in your abilities and I promise you good things will come. You could be the best player on the team, but don't let that go to your head. You are playing a team sport so use your talent to benefit the whole.
Lean on your Teammates
As much as your team will give you a hard time, they will be like your second family during the season. Get to know your teammates, find the guys/girls that you chive with. Especially if you're playing in a new city, chances are you aren't going to know very many people. Having a whole team of friends behind you and supporting you will make your rookie season that much easier. Chemistry off the ice usually tends to mean chemistry and success on the ice. One thing you have in common is the love of hockey. The bonds between you will become much more than just teammates, it will be a friendship that will last a lifetime.
Being a rookie can be hard. You may not be getting the ice time you want, the games might be tough, but when it comes down to it, it will be one of your best seasons. Your teammates mean no harm to you and they are just trying to bond with their newest member. And, hey, it's only for one season! If the vets can make it through it, so can you. Have fun with it, play your heart out, and be the best rookie you can be! Good luck!