I hope everyone had a great summer and all the kids are doing well in their tryouts if they are still going on.
I wanted to write a note about NOT making the team you wanted and how to deal with it.
Before I start I have to tell you that I have been “CUT” from many, many teams. You probably think most NHL players were always the stars on their teams growing up. I can tell you honestly that is not the case. Every player develops at different times and every player faces adversity along the way.
I will tell you this…
Almost every player I know that has made the NHL has made it because of his attitude (not his talent). Talent without a good attitude and personal drive will not last long.
NHL hockey players face adversity every shift of every game. It’s an emotional roller-coaster. One day you think you are a great player, the next you are wondering if you’ll ever get your skills back. It’s a wild, crazy, emotional, physical life of ups and downs, highs and lows, that keeps you on edge for an entire career and I wouldn’t have changed a second of it.
So here are a few tips to deal with the bad news that you (or your child) didn’t make the big team.
1. Consider the source: Many teams are coach pick. This coach right or wrong believes there was someone better suited for the team than you. Don’t take it personal. If you are lucky enough to have the coach tell you why you didn’t make it work on those aspects that need improvement and come back next season and show them how much better you are. If the coach didn’t offer this advice, don’t be afraid to approach them nicely and ask “Hey coach, I was just wondering. I really thought I had a good tryout. Do you mind telling me what it was that kept me from making it or what I should work on this season”. You might be surprised by the coaches answer or it may reaffirm what you already suspected.
2. Keep a positive attitude: If you’ve taken step 1 (as tough as it was to take) and gotten back on the ice you are doing great. Look at every practice and every game as a chance to get better. Ask yourself each ice time “Did I learn anything today?” Hockey is full of ups and downs. Savour the ups and learn from the downs (and appreciate both). Tomorrow is another day and another chance to have a great game.
3. Be honest with yourself: Lots of players when they get cut get defensive and place blame elsewhere. “Coach doesn’t like me” or “Hockey is full of politics”. Even things like “My boy is a way better skater than that boy”. C’mon, you probably know why you didn’t make it. Be honest with yourself. I knew everytime why I got cut. I was just afraid to admit it to myself. And in the event you are honest with yourself and you really should have made the team then just look back to step 1.
4. Look long term: It’s easy to look at “Right Now” in hockey. As much as you have to keep your game up night in and night out it would help to look at hockey as a marathon rather than a sprint. Every step is one closer to your goal. Lets say you made the Pee Wee A team this year. How do you look at that? Is it a stepping stone to another team next year or is that your final destination? It’s great that you made it but now what? Hockey players are always setting and re-setting their goals. It’s ever-changing. Where do you want to be at Christmas, end of the season, next year, 5 years from now, 1o years from now?
5. Have fun: If you’ve read the last 4 your probably thinking. “Getting cut was NOT FUN” and it’s not. But I know lots of families that were devastated in September and by February of that season were claiming it was the best year ever. Maybe you played a bigger role on your team than you would have. Maybe you made a new best friend. You don’t know until you get there. Hockey should be fun at any age.
So take your positive attitude and your strong work ethic and go make your season an enjoyable one. You may not be in control of your placing in tryouts but you are in control of your attitude and how you deal with things.
I wish everyone the best of luck.
Here is another great article from USA hockey about getting cut if you want to read more.