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Confessions Of A Junior Hockey Coach – You Can Not Rush Development

In business, it is a simple known fact that you do not try to sell  product until the product is ready and has been tested to be ready.  Ford would not try to sell a truck until it is proven the truck is up to sale standards.  Bauer would not sell the skates until they were tested for the sale and usability of the player.

Why then are you player and parent trying to sell the product before it is ready to be sold?

Each and every player is different.  We have said this many time before.  Every player develop differently physically and mentally.  Aaron Ekblad is different from Haydn Fleury.  Both are big defensemen.  Both were taken in the first round of NHL draft.  Both play Major Junior.  Both were born in 1996.  But that is where similarity ends.

Ekblad is right handed, Fleury is left handed.  Ekblad is NHL top four defense ready, Fleury is not.

Player develop at different rates.  It is simple to understand, so why are so many player and parent trying to rush the development?  It is time to wake up and understand you will get “there” when you are meant to get “there” and not a minute sooner.  And, most of you will not even get “there”.

If you are a young player, why are you trying to play at the higher level than you are meant to play?  If you were meant to play at that level, you would have been drafted.  It is time for the reality check.  It is time to look in the mirror and make the honest assessment of yourself.  Until you can do that you will never realize your own potential.

I have been to camp this summer, many have player who may one day reach that higher level.  Many too have player who simply should not be at the camp trying out.  I listen to the player and the parent talk in the stands, in the lobby and as they leave the building.  Year after year it is the same story.

Player and parent complain they did not make the team and then come up with the excuse or the comparison.  Well if a 16 year old is good compared to a 19 year old, the team is not taking the 16 year old in most case because the 19 year old is more mentally and physically mature as well as more experienced.  Count in the fact that the 19 year old is running out of time, and they take the 19 year old player.  The 16 year old has time to develop left and there is no need to rush him.

But parent and player think, key word being think, that they should be at that higher level.  This could not be further from the truth.

Young player, unless he is exceptional talent should play in his appropriate age group.  Hockey Canada say so, and USA Hockey say so.  The top level coaches in the world also say so.  Exceptional talent player does not mean the best player in his home town, it mean one of the top player in his whole country or one of the top player in his age in the whole world.  Those are the player that can make the jump to the higher level at the early age.

You can not rush development.  Period.  There is no hurry other than the one that the parent and player create.

Most of you player will not reach a level you think you should reach.  There are reason for that and it usually start with an unrealistic view of yourself and your ability.

If you have potential, it is much better for you to realize that potential at the appropriate level than it is to struggle in the next level up.  To be a player that is sometime on ice is not as good as being the player with the ton of ice time.  It is simple math, more ice equal more development.  More game experience and more practice experience equal more development.

Stop trying to rush the development.  Be smart, don’t be like so many others who reach too high too fast only to fall and be disappointed.  Success is habit forming, form that habit at the appropriate level for you.


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