Tretiak once said "talent without diligence is nothing." It is this attitude that was ever-present when he began his long journey into the world of hockey and the history books. Tretiak grew up with a father who was an airline pilot and a mother who was a physical education teacher for the Central Army Sports Club. Young Tretiak wanted to grow up to be a pilot like his father, but fate had a different plan for his life.
Tretiak began the steps towards his career in hockey when his mother first began to teach him to skate at a very young age. A few years later, at the age of 11, he began playing hockey as a forward for the Red Army Hockey School in Moscow. Later, he chose the position of goalie because he wanted a uniform and that was the only uniform left. It was this incident that changed Tretiak's life forever and brought him to a position where he truly shined.
Tretiak was very diligent in everything he did. He was quoted as saying, "I like to do my job best whatever I do," in an interview for the Sporting News. Because he felt he was not getting enough practice, as the Red Army played only two games a week, he began playing in any game he could find. He truly wanted to refine his game and knew the only way that was possible was through a great deal of practice. Those many hours of practice playing with other teams paid off, as at the age of twenty he was feared and revered by those in the world of hockey.