I spend a lot of time on the internet.
Much of that time is dedicated to answering emails and researching ways that I can help you become a better hockey player.
Over time, I have identified a common theme in many of the conversations I have, and emails I receive, from players across North America.
Some players express frustration with not being where they think they should be.
It might be where they fit in the lineup, how much ice time they are getting, or how many offers from scouts they are receiving. Drafts...Tenders....Trades...
I completely understand, because I too was in your shoes many years ago, trying to break through and advance my career.
But some players allow their perceived lack of success to affect their mindset. They put the cart before the horse.
Instead of just focusing on continual progress and improvement, they let negativity, frustration and entitlement creep into their mind.
They become distracted by things that are out of their control.
It affects their confidence, their consistency, and ultimately their play.
And a distracted player will simply not perform to his or her ability.
It brings me back to my own college hockey days.
I arrived on campus with high hopes and big expectations.
It was an exciting time and I couldn’t wait to start my freshman season.
Unfortunately for me, I spent the first 15 games in the press box.
I wanted to get in the lineup so bad but it became clear very quickly that it wasn’t just going to be handed to me.
I was going to have to earn it.
I battled everyday at practice.
I stayed out late and worked on my weaknesses.
I thought I was doing everything that was asked of me.
And still I sat.
It was a huge adjustment for me.
I was used to being the top dog where I came from.
Now I was on a team full of guys who were top dogs where they came from too.
I was far from home, working my tail off and not even in the lineup for games.
When the team was on the road, I was one of a handful of guys not making the trip.
I was frustrated.
I even entertained the thought of quitting.
But I stuck it out.
In spite of my circumstances, I believed in myself.
In spite of my internal feelings and the mental battle being waged in my mind, I continued to show up and compete.
I tried to remain positive and be the best teammate I could be.
Eventually, I slowly began to earn the trust of my coaches and my teammates.
I didn’t play my first game until almost halfway through the season.
Starting in a limited role, I worked my way up the lineup, and ended up playing every game the rest of the season.
Eventually, I was able to prove myself to my coach, and became an important member of the team for the rest of my college career.
There was a time that I could have quit, but I remained patient.
I was completely down and almost defeated, but that experience taught me the importance of GRIT.
It is never a straight line to success.
I could never have played another ten years after college if I didn’t learn to take control of my circumstances instead of allowing them to control me.
I did that by taking ownership of my attitude.
It’s not what happens to you but how you respond that counts.
We all know how important talent and skill is in the game of hockey.
Every day you show up at the rink, you work on improving your skill level.
But from my perspective, the one ingredient in a player that carries even more weight than talent, is GRIT.
Physical GRIT, and even more importantly, mental GRIT.
It is the great equalizer.
If playing at the next level were strictly based on talent, teams wouldn’t have training camps.
They would just pick the top 20 players on paper and start practicing.
But it doesn’t work that way.
You have to show up and compete.
And sometimes “will” triumphs over “skill”.
If you learn to develop this trait, you will have a decided advantage over others.
Research suggests the greatest predictor of success is a player's level of grit. More than coaching, training techniques, intelligence, IQ or almost any other factor. Gritty players often succeed and nothing builds grit like experiencing adversity.
And that's why I think there is something interesting going on today.
We have it so good with technology. Too good.
We can get almost anything we want at the tip of our fingers.
Just order it from amazon and you can have it on your doorstep over night.
Want to see a movie?
Instant access on Netflix.
Want to meet someone?
Just sign up for a dating app and start shopping for dates.
What’s my point?
Well, this microwave culture we live in has us accustomed to getting almost anything we want and getting it quickly.
It’s called instant gratification, and it is a cancer to you if you are a hockey player.
The problem arises when things don’t come quickly.
When things don’t go your way, many players don’t know how to cope.
They quit. Fold the tent. Pack it in.
There is no “GRIT”.
Wayne Gretzky said it best when he described what he learned from losing in the Stanley Cup final before winning his first cup the following year...
There are certain things that you can't expedite. Two examples are experience and achievement. If you want to succeed you have to dig down far beyond when your mind is telling you to quit.
Embrace this moment when you reach it, because this is when you are growing and becoming a better player.
You are learning how to win.
How do you deal with adversity?
Do you pack it in, or do you accept the challenge?
Many players allow their mind to limit them before their body gives out.
Right when victory is within reach they get distracted or give up.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from all of this is that achieving your goals is a process.
Be patient, and focus on progress not perfection.
Work on improving just a little bit each and every day. Make this your focus and the results will come.
Reaching your true potential takes time.
And there is no app for that.
Hope this helps… P.S...If your strategy to get recruited consists of crossing your fingers, closing your eyes, and praying that the right scout will come see you play and sign you, you're doing it wrong. Truth is, it's hard to stand out from the thousands of players who all have the same goal that you have...to play at the next level. You're busy trying to become an awesome hockey player. Don't get distracted by drafts, trades, and tenders, and let us help you with the heavy lifting so you can concentrate on what you do best. Playing hockey! Email us at [email protected] to see how we can assist you with your goals! We're dedicated to your success.