I am sure a lot of players and parents have debated this question… Is it better to be part of a higher level team/league and be a practice player or 3rd or 4th line player who gets the occasional shift or be in a lower level and be the dominant player and lead the team and the league in at his/her position?
I have listened to this question be asked and answered by Coaches, Advisors, Parents, Players and people who are just interested in the perspective of what is good for a student athlete….
Now I am sure a lot of people will debate the answer, but I can tell you when a player is between the ages of 15-19 they need to develop. A very important aspect of development is playing the game. When you are sitting and watching that is not going to help you achieve your goals.
Yes, it might feed the ego of the player to be able to say ” I am part of a higher level”. But it could also take you out of being the dominant player the following year when you have not had the playing time and training, one would expect when you are in the higher league…
and as we all know….
Someone is always in the rear view ready and wanting to take your position which is where that old saying comes in “What have you done for me today”.
Elite student athletes try to jump to higher levels thinking if they are part of the team they will automatically get to where they want to go because they are on the same team as the player that is already there.
You have to ask yourself in order for me to be successful at the higher level was I successful at the level I am currently playing?
A player who is always the dominant player, putting up 100 points in their current role will benefit from moving up and will be challenged at the higher level. If a player is putting up 20 or 30 points at the level they are currently playing in should NOT ever consider the move. They simply are not ready and have not developed at their current level to justify moving up and could actually be detrimental to where they aspire to go with their future for long term advancement.
It would be like a baby who goes from crawling to sprinting without walking first and developing their muscles to be able to sustain the sprint for the rest of their lives. Players, but most important Parents of these players need to fully understand that D1 commitments do not come when your child is sitting on a bench watching or practicing.
It comes from training harder then anyone else, it comes from competing harder then anyone else, it comes from being stronger then anyone else, and it comes from ripping one league apart and being “THE” player to move on to be the dominant player at the higher level.
It is unfortunate that so many players think playing at the Tier ll level is in reach when they have not even performed at the Tier lll level. I know, I know I know…alot of you are going to say “but playing with elevated players will make me a better player”..
STOP and think; a Coach at the higher levels want to see players who can make other players around them better, NOT take a player who relies on someone elses talents to make them a better player and shine.
Sometimes the road to success is not sprinting before you can crawl but actually going through the process of truly putting in your time, being the leader in every way on the ice at the level you are in and then making the move to the higher level..
I cannot tell you how many players have moved up before they were ready and miss a year of hockey to just be able to say I am part of the team…
Players have to demand of themselves and understand there is absolutely no shortcut to the process. And staying in a League, or with a team, as long as that program is will provide advanced training, conditioning, is the best course.
Learning, the critical intricacies of the game at the highest level, before you get there, is much more advantageous to the long term goals as a student athlete who wants to play at the highest possible level.. D1, USHL, and even the NHL !!!