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Six Ways to Stay Engaged When It’s Not Your Shift

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 02/13/23, 1:45PM EST


Players can still be a part of the action from the bench

Photo Credit: Kha Vo Photography

Every player is an important piece of the puzzle that brings a team together. While there may only be five skates (plus the goalie) on the ice at a time, everyone takes turns in contributing to the team’s success. When you are waiting for your next shift and taking a breather on the bench, there are many ways to be a part of what’s happening on the ice.

Here are six ways to stay engaged when it’s not your shift:

Always Be Ready

When it’s your turn to hit the ice, make sure you are prepared. Stay focused on the flow of the game and be ready for any last-second instruction from the coach. Know what you're supposed to do and who you are replacing before you hop over the boards. Keep building the momentum for your team!

Encourage Your Teammates

Your teammates are working hard on the ice. Show them the same energy by remaining positive and cheering them on. Keep your teammates’ emotions under control. Make note of your body language and how it may have an effect on those around you. A fist bump or pat on the back after a hard-working shift are easy gestures to show your teammates that you appreciate their effort.

Keep Your Ears Open

Pay attention to what your coaches are saying. They could be sharing important messaging about strategy, line changes or what’s happening on the ice. Communicate with them if you pick up on a trend from the other team.

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Study the Flow of the Game

When it’s not your shift you should still be paying attention to what’s happening on the ice. The different viewpoint of being outside the action can be a great learning tool and you can see the other team’s tendencies that you may not have otherwise noticed. Maybe they like to bring the puck up on one side of the ice or make a certain pass before a breakout. Take this new perspective and apply it when you hit the ice.

Speak Up and Be an Effective Communicator

Talk to your linemates after your shift and go over what went well and what you can improve on together. Keep the talking to game-related topics. Save the non-game chatter for the locker room after the game.

Keep the Bench Organized

Put water bottles back in their proper place and don’t leave a mess on the bench. Your seat will become your teammate’s and don’t let them get distracted from what’s going on in the game. Be aware of your surroundings and remember there are coaches behind you. It will help the flow of your team.

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