After the NAHL draft ends today, and the great majority of you are not picked, it will be time to seriously consider committing to a team.
Those of you still eligible to play U18 or U16 should do so, and there are plenty of opportunities available.
A simple Google search on the success of USA Hockey’s NTDP program will tell you several very important things;
- The top players play within their “age specific” group and dominate within that group before moving on to Junior;
- The “age specific” AAA programs available are the center of all scouting for Junior Hockey teams. The Major Junior, USHL, NAHL and NCDC drafts prove this in their results;
- International playing experience is of critical interest to all teams at every level, so if you have the opportunity to play internationally, don’t waste any more time thinking about it and take it;
- The NTDP players train at least 5 hours a day on the ice, in the gym or in the classroom. Look for programs that mirror this if you are serious about success. If they don’t have the amenities or the facilities, then you are wasting your time and money;
- Be prepared to work harder than you ever have; if it were easy, everyone would have success.
Now that all the important drafts are over, it will be important for you to make a good decision. Don’t fall for the hype. Don’t fall for the same old “we have a great dressing room” or “we have great fans”. Because no dressing room and no fans will get you to the next level.
Focus on amenities, and training. If they don’t have a gym, you don’t sign. If they don’t have a dedicated dressing room, you don’t sign. If they don’t have showers in the dressing room, you don’t sign.
If they don’t have a goalie coach, you don’t sign. If they travel in vans or make you drive yourself, you don’t sign. If they don’t offer a real plan for exposure, you don’t sign.
The league you play in doesn’t matter. There are bad teams and bad organizations in every league. What matters is training. Period.
Success begins and ends with training properly and being prepared. Organizations that prepare you for the future don’t talk about winning and all the other superficial sales gimmicks that people fall for.
The best organizations talk about hard work, being prepared and training the right way. Because if you do those things, success is inevitable.
If you are looking for a U18 or U16 opportunity, I look forward to your email.