Laura Baker's Top 10 Tips For Playing Hockey in the USA

4 min read

This is a guest blog by FirstPoint USA Sports Consultant, Laura Baker; a former Virginia Commonwealth University field hockey student athlete.Having completed her Bachelors in Business Management and Masters in Sports Leadership degrees at the school, while also having a stellar playing career for the school, Laura continued to work for the University as a coach - starting out as a Graduate Assistant and eventually leading the hockey program as Head Coach for three seasons. Here, Laura shares with us her top 10 tips for field hockey players, prior to playing in the USA.

1. Start early

This is both in terms of starting to play early and also starting your recruiting process early. The longer you have to develop your skills the better your opportunities will be later on. In the recruiting stage make sure you are not leaving it too late to look into your opportunities in the US.

2. Video footage

This is the main way US college coaches will be watching you play. Make sure your video is of high quality, has both skills sections and match sections, and isnt too long! In the skills section you want to highlight basic skills, but also any advanced skills that you do at a high level. In the game footage make sure it is clear who you are! Coaches do not want to have to search for you on the screen.

3. Academics

Always remember you are aiming to be a STUDENT-athlete at a US college. So keep in mind the better you do academically the more options it could open up for you at American colleges to combine your academic study and hockey.

4. Research, research, research

The internet is a wonderful resource to find out lots of information about all the schools in the US that offer hockey. Many schools now offer videos online that show you around the campus, and make sure you always look at the degrees offered at a school. School athletic websites also offer great resources to get to know the hockey team and the athletic department.

5. Get to know the coaches

Be proactive when you start talking with the coaches. If you have the chance to Skype with them make sure you have some questions prepared for them to answer. Making sure you like the coaching staff is important, but also make sure you love the school itself just in case there is a coaching change while you are there.

6. Persevere

If you dont hear back from the coach after your first email always email them again. Also, email all coaching staff members and not just the Head Coach.

7. Fitness/Strength and Conditioning

American college hockey players are some of the fittest and fastest in the world. If you want to get ahead make sure you are working out off the pitch before you go over to the US, that way your transition to the American game will be smoother.

8. Commitment

Ask yourself the hard question do I think I would be successful in the US? Being a Student-Athlete is a very difficult job. You will be a full time student AND a full time athlete. Think about how many times a week you train/play right now and how many sessions you miss throughout the season. Do you have the desire to push yourself to high levels while also being able to maintain your academics?

9. Finances

Scholarships are widely available, but never assume you will be offered a full scholarship.

10. Team YOU

Who is your support team? Parents, coaches, family members? Dont forget about including them in your plans so that they can help you and support you, and you can thank them for everything they have done for you so far. Many top athletes never would have made it where they are today if it wasnt for their own Team YOUs.

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