Jeff Lovecchio: Advice to My Younger Self

Rest, study and fearlessness are crucial for making dreams a reality.

If I could go back in time and give my younger-self advice, what would it be?

I have read tons of these from retired NHL Superstars. I love them. I love listening to older people give advice.  They have already done what we want to and now have the ability to look back and pinpoint pivotal crossroads during their careers that lead them to greatness.

However, these are the greats. Whether they were superstars or the average NHLer (still amazing hockey players), these are the guys that made it.  Why would they look back and want to change anything? For me, it’s a much different exercise. I never got to play in a NHL regular season game.  I didn’t have a hall fame career.  Other than the team’s I played for, no one knows who I am or what I’ve done. When I look back, I would obviously change things because I didn’t make it in the NHL. I would tell baby faced, skinny, awkward fifteen year-old Jeff four things.


This is a super weird piece of advice, but follow me here. After retiring from my last season of professional hockey I immediately began running my off-ice training company full time. Being a strength coach and someone who is obsessed with learning how to get more from our bodies, I now know how important sleep is. Your body heals itself during sleep. Your brain resets. Sleep quality, not just quantity, is probably the easiest way to enhance performance. I always gave everything I had to training, practicing, playing and nutrition, BUT for someone reason, I was always a bad sleeper. Better sleep = better performance.


I almost never watched hockey growing up. I never had a favorite team and didn’t care who won the cup every year. For whatever reason, I loved playing hockey and practiced all day and night my whole life but didn’t want to watch it. I missed out on nightly learning opportunities growing up. Watching hockey and studying what the best in the world do every game is the easiest way to learn the details that make players successful.

It wasn’t until my sixth-year pro that I really started watching Youtube videos of the best NHL players. It gave me so many ideas of things to try, ways to position my body, where to go to score goals, puck trends etc. When I was younger my hockey sense couldn’t keep up with my speed and I think a huge part of that was because I never watched hockey!

…studying what the best in the world do every game is the easiest way to learn the details that make players successful. 


For the rest of your career, don’t be afraid to make mistakes in practice and try new things that will help to expand your skillset. Right around 15 years old is when I started to notice what worked for me on the ice and what didn’t. I was tall, fast, and had a good shot. When I played simply by beating guys wide, shooting from everywhere and using my speed I had success. So what did I do? I put so much focus on getting better at those things that I stopped trying things in practice.

I never worked on my hands or used my edges for quick cutbacks and deceptive stops and starts. I’d put my head down and only beat D wide and drive the far post. Although that’s what gave me success, the rest of my game never developed as it could have. I was scared of failing, trying other things and getting told to keep it simple. When you’re a young player, try everything you can. Don’t limit yourself to a “role.” Learn as you get older when it’s okay to try things and when it’s smarter to keep it simple. Until you play junior hockey (when the game becomes a business and winning is what matters) you’ll have to learn that line, but until then work on your mental and physical skills!


Start reading about sports psychology and how your mind affects your play. Visualization, positivity, learning from mistakes, focus, mental toughness, all of these things can be learned. This stuff isn’t a farce. It’s probably more important than anything on this list. The sooner you learn these, the sooner you’ll be playing chess while everyone else is still playing checkers. If you focus on these things (and strengthen your neck so maybe you don’t get a ton of concussions) you will have a great shot at making it, you future ‘meat stick’!

"The sooner you learn these, the sooner you'll be playing chess while everyone else is still playing checkers."