7 hockey lessons that translate to everyday life

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Do you remember those stickers that said things like "Baseball is Life", "Fishing is Life", "Hockey is Life"? What about "Hockey AS Life"?

About a year ago, I started learning to hockey skate so that I could participate in one of the adult leagues in Pittsburgh. I've always wanted to play hockey. Let's just say that life had a way of interfering with me doing so all the previous times I tried. Now, I integrate it into my regular workout schedule.

Although I haven't started actually playing yet, I suddenly realized one day how the lessons I've learned on the ice equal lessons for life. Here are 7 such lessons:

  1. Choosing the right tools is crucial. In hockey, your equipment needs to fit right. This isn't any different than choosing the right tires for your vehicle. I bought skates that were too big for me last year. Now, I have the right fit, but skating on the wrong ones for so long means I'm having to re-learn how to skate (thus, why I haven't played a game yet). In life, make sure you have the right tools to see you through.
  2. Don't overextend yourself. Trying to do too much too soon on the hockey rink can cause you injury. I learned this the day I tried sprinting on the ice, before I was ready, and without elbow pads on. I still have pain in the forearm I landed on, more than 3 months later. In life, overextending yourself can lead to exhaustion, relationship issues, even getting fired, so don't do it.
  3. Bad habits will, in fact, hurt you. Like sprinting on the ice without elbow pads (bone bruise, see above) or no helmet (mild concussion). In life, whether your bad habits are smoking, overeating, cheating, or just staying up too late, trust me, they will bite you in the ass eventually, so it's probably best to try to root them out now.
  4. Going backwards is scary but 100% necessary and even rewarding. Skating backwards the first time is scary; you can't see what's behind you real well, and you feel like you're going to crack your skull open. Once you get the hang of it, though, it's great. In life, going backwards can be scary, but it can teach you about yourself. Don't fear it so much. When you have to go backwards, just mind the wall, and you'll be fine.
  5. Falling hurts but teaches you what not to do next time. Ice is hard. When you fall on it, especially without pads, it hurts a lot. But, falling is how we learn on the ice and off. It teaches us what we did wrong. Falls happen. It's the getting up again that's important.
  6. Letting go of fear will get you to the next level. If you're afraid to push yourself a little on the ice, you won't get very far in hockey. Your equipment is there to catch you, though, so when you trust in it and push a little each time you go out on the ice, you'll go far. In life, trust that someone will be there to catch you when you stumble, and push yourself a little bit. You'll go farther.
  7. There is no reward without risk. Every time I go out on the ice, I risk a broken bone. I accept that risk willingly, because I know I must in order to reach the reward of someday shooting a puck into a net and scoring a goal. In life, if you're afraid of risk, you will find fewer rewards, so go out on the ice now and then, and take the risk. Hopefully, you find the reward worth the risks you took.

A.M.