There comes a time in hockey when players realize that they are no longer the ‘go to player’. When this happens, the success of the individual is a direct result of how they handle these situations. As players continue to strive to succeed, they often run into roadblocks. As a player moves up the ladder and into higher levels of play, there is a sort of funnel effect. At each rung of the ladder a lot of players are left behind wondering what they did wrong or frustrated because they did not achieve their goal.
Players have to understand that despite playing ‘AAA’ hockey throughout their youth hockey careers, they may only be an average player on a Junior A team. Nothing is guaranteed to you and the earlier you realize this, the easier it will be to attempt to transition to the next level. This is the case for the ultra skilled players and the bubble players. What most people do not understand is these roles can swap over and over again.
What decides this is the amount of work, effort and dedication you have to hockey. If you want to play college hockey or higher, you have to understand the effort that you put in will have a direct impact on your success. If you were the Captain of your Midget team, you may struggle to stay in the lineup in a league like the NAHL or USHL. These leagues are pulling players from all over the world and the funnel effect is clearly seen. Where your Midget team covered a region or players, your Junior team now covers at least a nations worth of the best players.
So how do you excel at this level and push towards the next level? By remaining positive, working hard, and doing the intangibles. You have to really evaluate how bad you want it and then formulate a game plan to achieve your goals. The funny thing is, this isn’t just carried through in hockey, but also in life.
Spending an extra half hour in the weight room is no different than spending an extra half hour with your professor going over lecture notes. Using extra time on-ice after practice is no different than taking a free class offered by your employer to further your knowledge and career.
For some of you who may be reading this, you are bogged down, depressed and unhappy with the current situation. Maybe you aren’t getting the ice time you think you deserve or maybe you aren’t contributing on the scoresheet as you would like to. My advice to you is to put everything in perspective and acknowledge the fact that nothing is given to you, in hockey or in life. Whether you put in the work on the ice, in the classroom or in the office, effort, drive and determination will be the only ways you can reach your goals and achieve success.
Don’t let the little things get to you and remember that once today is over, you can never get that time back. Do not take an off day for granted and go the step further in anything you do. Understand that every time you are putting forth the extra effort, there are 10 other people who are chasing the same goals that are also putting in the work. Never underestimate this and always strive for success!