How to Become a Pro Hockey Player

Becoming a pro hockey player in the NHL or another major league around the world is the goal of millions of hockey fans globally. Playing in front of thousands of fans, making millions and getting to travel around the country (or world) are things many people would love to do.

However, actually making it to the show is a difficult task. There are a finite amount of spots available on pro teams, and they are filled with some of the best hockey players on Earth. So how can you go about securing one of those prestigious spots?

While there is no exact formula to decipher what it takes to make it to the pros, I’m going to go over a few tips that can help guide players along the right path of becoming a pro hockey player.

1. Start Young

Something similar between many professional players is that they started playing hockey very young. Many are skating by the time they are a couple of years old and never stop. The earlier you start learning a skill, the quicker and better you will eventually become at it.

Also, the earlier you can get comfortable skating, the earlier you will be able to begin moving onto more advanced things like stickhandling, shooting, and things like that. As a result, the earlier someone can get started on skates, the better their chances are of becoming special.

However, starting young isn’t always a prerequisite for becoming a pro. Take it from me. I started skating and playing hockey at only a couple of years old, and I’m certainly not a pro, so it takes more than simply time to become one of the best.

2. Hone Your Skills

Another thing young hockey players should be focused on is honing their skills. It will take years and years and thousands of hours of practice and running drills to become a pro, so you need to put in a ton of effort.

This includes long nights at the rink, early mornings for games, and working on your stickhandling, shooting, skating, passing and other skills as frequently as possible. No one can make it as a professional without working hard on improving, so don’t hesitate.

There is always someone willing to work harder for a spot on a pro team, so you need to be willing to make hockey the primary focus of your life for many years if you want a chance to play under the bright lights and in front of screaming fans.

3. Become Physically and Mentally Stronger

While hockey is a game of skill, size still matters. Even if you aren’t an enforcer or a physical player, you still need to ensure you are working on your physical strength. It’s hard work to play 60 minutes of pro hockey against some of the ebay and toughest players out there.

This is why working out, lifting weights and generally becoming more fit is a big part of being a hockey player. If you can’t take hits or can’t maintain the puck along the boards while being shoved around, you will find it hard to make it in the pros in most cases.

In addition to your physical health, you also need to become stronger mentally. Your opponents will often try to get under your skin, and you need to ensure you don’t lose your cool or lose focus during the game.

Also, if you are in a scoring slump or not playing your best on the ice, you need to be able to snap out the funk and bounce back. If you are mentally weak and have a lack of confidence in your skills, it can be hard to get over these struggles and once again find success on the ice.

4. Be Ready to Grind

No matter how naturally talented or physically gifted you are, you need to be willing to work incredibly hard to make it to the pros. But in addition to running drills and working on your skills, you need to dedicate your life, and likely many years, to the sport.

Many players don’t get their start in the pros by getting drafted as an 18-year-old and immediately getting called up to the big leagues. Plenty of players have to play in semi-pro leagues or major junior leagues around the world until they finally get noticed.

Perseverance and always believing in yourself and striving for something better are always important, too. It may take years, but if you have the skills and put in the time and work, there is a chance you will get your shot in the pros. 

5. Prepare for Handling the Media and Fans

An often-underrated part of being a professional athlete is being able to conduct yourself well with the media. After practices, games, and other events, you will have to face questions from the media. While these are often easy to answer, this is not always the case.

Many reporters try to get players to say something buzzworthy and are always looking for how they can start some drama. As a player, you need to be aware of this and keep things civil. Taking some media training is often a good idea, to ensure you know how to handle things.

While the media can often be more challenging and difficult for new and young players to deal with, you also need to think about the fans. When you and your team are playing well, fans are great and your best friend. But this unfortunately isn’t always the case.

If your team is struggling, or you are having a rough couple of games, the fans will often let you hear about it with boos and more than a couple of insults. You can’t let the fans (whether at the game or on social media) bring you down, and always remain professional and confident.

In a similar vein, be sure to conduct yourself professionally, whether online or in person. You are an extension of your team and don’t want to cause them any PR headaches by saying or doing something that could be deemed offensive or inappropriate.

While there are no guarantees that anyone will become a pro, following these tips is a great way to give yourself a shot. You need to be willing to put the time and effort in, but also be realistic with yourself.

Are there any other things you feel like I should have mentioned in this guide? If there are, don’t hesitate to let me know about them in a comment!

About Kale
Being from Canada, hockey is essentially a way of life. I instantly fell in love with the game since I was being put on skates. From playing as a child (and the occasional street hockey game with friends today) to being a fan for over 20 years, I’m here to share my knowledge and passion for hockey.

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  • Todd Mazzitelli

    Kale, I might be too old (53) to play professionally somewhere around the world. Maybe, but the possibility is very slim to none. However, I have a son who is 23, who could make an NHL roster and make an impact on a regular basis. The pros who have played with him always tell him to give it up. I think he believes them, to some extent, because he has told me that they have told him he’s not good enough. On the contrary, I have been around long enough to know that he could take their job! He didn’t play major Junior. He didn’t play major college hockey. He might be one of the best 23-year-olds flying under the radar and like I said, he could make an impact right away! Do I encourage him to get an agent? How do I help him get some visibility so he can take his skills to the next level?

    Reply
    • Kale

      Hi Todd,

      Social media is likely your best friend when it comes to getting visibility. If you can create a highlight video of some of his better plays and him showing off his skills, it has the potential of being seen by the right people. You can also send the tape to different scouts for professional or semi-professional teams all over the world.

      If you have a competitive league in your area that your son could join, that can also go a long way in getting more visibility. Any way that he can put his skills on display in a place that might be seen by scouts or team officials is a good option.

      As for the agent, I would say that probably isn’t necessary right away unless he is getting closer to signing a contract with a team. If you start getting more visibility and/or interest from semi-pro or professional teams and scouts, that is when enlisting the help of an agent could be beneficial.

      Reply