For a lot of players, making the transition from Junior Hockey to NCAA Hockey can be a bumpy road. The same can be said for those players making the transition from AAA, or High School to Junior Hockey.
Here are eight tips to make the transition more manageable. Notice I said manageable, not easier. Nothing in these transitions will be “easy” and the key to success is learning how to manage changes in your career while enjoying the journey.
- Recognize The Transition – The first semester of college, or the first few months of junior will be difficult for most of you. You can get frustrated with many things, like a lack of free time or social life. You can be uncomfortable in a new living environment or team environment. You could be homesick. Mental toughness will be critical at this point, and learning to deal with emotions and new challenges will be lessons that help you grow as a player and person.
- Leave The Past In The Past – You are entering a new environment. A much more competitive environment than you have been in before. Everyone around you is either at your level or above. The work that got you to this level is not going to keep you at this level. More will be required, and recognizing this will allow you to accelerate your integration.
- Compete – You are no longer in a situation where everyone plays or gets a participation trophy. There are a lot more players on the roster at the next level and you will have to compete for your ice time. Prepare for it, and accept it. Nothing will be simply given to you.
- Be Prepared To Sit – Youre a first year player in the program. Other players are a year or a few years ahead of you. Understand that unless you are a phenom, that you will have to sit in the stands from time to time, or even a lot of the time. Take advantage of the view. Take the opportunity to really watch what those players ahead of you are doing on the ice. Learn from it and grow.
- Prepare Properly – The players ahead of you are established. In order to reach their level or jump ahead of them, you are going to have to do more. More time in the gym. Extra time on the ice. Being more careful with your diet and getting more rest. Gaining ground means you have to prepare in the right ways, always.
- Acceptance – Accept that the coaches are going to tell you when you are ready for a bigger role. The higher you go, the more you will have to accept the coaches determination. Your role at the next level may be a lot different than you imagined. Accept it, master it, and then prepare to go through the same process again.
- Listen – Dont be the new guy who comes in and cant keep his mouth shut. Everyone in the room is there for the same purpose, and until you are seen as having earned your position within the team, just be quiet and listen. When you reach serious levels of hockey, no one really wants to hear your stories. Listen and learn.
- Make Friends – Within the first week or so you will know who the leaders are, who the coahes respect. Those are the guys you want to make friends with. Those are the guys you want to learn from because they already know what the coaches like. Notice who gets the most ice time and see why he gets it. Emmulate the successful players, make them your friends. Those that dont, probably wont be in the room next season.
When you reach the next level, nothing is sure. The sooner you accept this and prepare for what is to come, the more likely you are to make a successful transition.
For more information on reaching the next level, drop me an email.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser
When making decisions, Hockey Talent Management has been providing sound advice to players and parents for nearly three decades.