As someone who is a diehard hockey fan, I always wondered how early NHL players arrive at the rink to prepare for a game. I wanted to know for myself what they do and why they arrive to their game so early, so I asked a few of the players personally.
As it turns out, the NHL players’ individual routines vary greatly. Some players arrive to the rink early to do their own stretching, while others take to the ice for some extra shooting or passing drills. All of the players I spoke to agreed that they arrive early to be able to settle down before the game. It’s their way of setting the tone for the night, to get into their own zen and to focus on their team chemistry. I was so amazed by the deep understanding the players had of their own routine and how their preparation helps them play better as a team.
The earliest I heard of a player arriving was two hours prior to the game. I think that speaks volumes of how serious they take their game and how invested they are in their performance. It’s amazing how much thought and preparation they put into their game. They clearly understand consistency and recognize the need to arrive early to ensure they are ready to contribute to the team at the highest level every single night.
A couple of the players I spoke admitted that they find solace in the silence of arriving early and getting into “the zone.” They told me that it is a great way to prepare both mentally and physically for the long journey ahead. They spend those early hours repeating drills, visualizing the plays they need to execute throughout the game, stretching, and getting themselves laughing, all in an effort to increase focus and create team spirit amongst their teammates.
I wanted to experience the same preparation process, so one morning I arrived early to an NHL practice. And it was exactly what I expected. All of the players had their own individual routines. Some were in the weight room lifting weights or stretching, while others were on the ice doing drills. All of them were in their own world, while still being part of the team. It was a sight to behold and made me understand why they arrive early.
Generally, during the regular nhl shop season, the majority of the players arrive about 1.5 hours before game time. This allows them ample time to stretch, review film, and focus on their strategy for the game. But even before they arrive at the rink, they can be starting their preparation process with a pre-game meal, some type of light exercise, or stretching.
When the players do arrive, they’re usually already focused and in the zone. Their teammates help build upon this focus by taking part in team activities and gatherings before the game starts. This is done to ensure that everyone is on the same page and feeling a sense of togetherness.
It’s clear that NHL players understand the importance of being prepared for the game. They are willing to sacrifice sleep and time with family to ensure that they are giving their absolute best on the ice. Their dedication and commitment to become the best possible player they can be never cease to amaze me.
That amazed feeling also fuelled my research further. Doing a bit of digging around I found out that part of their dedication also extends to off-season too. Several of the players I were in contact with discussed the importance of training away from the team and forgetting the habits from the season and dedicating themselves to brand new workout routines and diets. This is done to not only to optimize their performance and increase their strength and agility but also to prevent getting into a rut or hitting a dreaded performance plateau.
At the same time, many of them also embrace more fun activities as part of their off-season routines – like golfing, biking, hiking and canoeing. The players explained that heading outdoors helps them to relax, have some laughs and explore alternate ways to keep in tip top shape. This type of diversified preparation puts them in a much better mental and physical state to hit the ice and give their all come the start of the season.
Another aspect of NHL players’ early arrival that they shared with me was special meetings. Before some games, teams often gather to plan out strategies and discuss how they can win the game as a unit. On some evenings, extra-curricular team activities such as dinners or even moderate escapes are also arranged for some team bonding. To make these meetings or team events as productive and impactful as possible, the players arrive early so they can be fully present and focused.
On top of that, I also learned that early arrival gives the players some time to warm up and get used to the temperature of the arena. With the colder temperatures inside an nhl jerseys arena, it can take some time for them to get accustomed to the change in temperature, so they arrive early to give themselves that time. It’s all part of the preparation and focus they need to get into the game.
In conclusion, NHL players arrive early for a variety of reasons. Preparing mentally, physically and emotionally all play an important role in their performance. Whether it’s for some extra stretching or drills, team meetings or warming up, it’s clear that NHL players understand the importance of early arrival for their ultimate success.