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The Reason 99.99% of Hockey Players Fail To Reach Their Potential

I am writing this article for YOU. 

When I say “you” I mean the hockey player who is 13-20 years old and has a dream of playing NCAA, CIS, or Pro. 

Dare I say it, who has a dream to play in the NHL.

You also probably dream of dominating on the ice and being truly confident as a player and person.

But, you know that you aren't doing that right now. 

If you are anything like me, you are working your ass off.

You are also searching for answers about how to get to the next level.

I bet you also are not finding anything that clicks or seems like it will really help you.

I was once in your shoes.

When I was younger, I dreamed of having someone write the stuff I am going to break down in this article and the many more to come. 

So hopefully you enjoy it as much as I do!

The Harsh Truth

You must first understand the harsh reality of hockey and life. 

No one gives a shit about how badly you "want it" or how you "feel".

They care about what you provide.

They care about results.

Most players either don’t know this, forget about this, or get wrapped up in the politics of the game.

When I say politics I mean:

  • Not playing enough

  • Certain players are favoured

  • Getting scratched

  • Etc…

Here’s the thing… If you are good enough, you are very unlikely to face politics or be affected by them. 

And even if you do face them, your greatness will shine through!

The sad fact is that most hockey players never make it to their full potential because they lose sight of what they control and focus on what they can’t control.

It's not that these players “don’t want it bad enough”. 

It’s that they put their focus in the wrong direction and waste valuable energy placing blame on things they can’t control. 

So, the question is… what are the things that they (or you) should focus on? 

The Secret

Are you ready for the secret that only the top guys know?

It may seem stupid simple, but oftentimes the truth is more simple than we realize...

The secret is: our total focus should be on getting better every single year! 

Said another way: they should focus on their own development and nothing else.

That’s the secret the sons and daughters of NHL players get. 

It's what the top guys do and don't tell anyone else. 

They invest in their development and forget about the stuff that wastes their time, money and energy.

Now you have heard of the word "development" before, but most people say the word development and then just leave you stranded to figure out what it means. 

Let’s break it down in clear terms together here so it makes an impact on you. 

So first of all, there are core two components to development: Timing and Direction. 

1. Timing: Speed of Improvement

Many players fail because they don't develop their skills quickly enough. They fall behind their peers, and the gap widens over time.

When the gap becomes wide enough the player gives up on trying to close it and accepts their current identity as a lower-ability player. 

2. Direction: Right Skills, Right Time

Others might improve rapidly but in the wrong areas. 

They become masters of skills that aren't critical to their success at the next level.

This is almost worse than not developing because they have developed bad habits that hurt their game at the next level.

This is like the player who has a super high-quality shot at a younger age but becomes too reliant on it and neglects to develop supporting skills. 

If other players catch up in the shooting department, they are not good at any other supporting skills and they fall into the first trap we talked about (timing of improvement). 

Why Does This Happen?

So, why do players fall into these traps? 

It boils down to a lack of information and lack of clear development coaching & advice.

This crushes players during their most important years of development.

Let's think about this from the context of a junior player who is 15 years old and entering junior hockey. 

This is truly where players separate themselves when it comes to NCAA and professional opportunities. 

Limited Junior Development Time 

As players and parents, we often underestimate the limited time we have for development. 

We either assume there's unlimited time, or we rush and focus on the wrong skills.

At about age 15, this is the point where things need to get serious and yet we often think we are in no rush to improve. 

Players created a fragmented system of:

  • A strength and conditioning coach

  • A skills coach 

  • Maybe a mental coach (my areas of expertise haha)

But there is no alignment between these and players are simply just doing what everyone else is doing.

They are not building their own unique set of skills at all (Unique Player Identity).

Limited Ice Time

Here's a simple calculation to understand the limited time you have in games throughout your junior career:

Average Minutes Per Game x Number of Games Per Season x Seasons in Junior

Let's say you play 15 minutes per game, in 50 games per season, for 5 seasons. 

That's 62.5 hours of game time. (subtract 12.5 hours for each year you have played).

That's all the time you have to earn your spot in college or pro.

That’s not a lot of time. 

Limited Development Time

Now, let's look at the amount of time you have to hone your skills.

You are awake about 5840 waking hours per year (if you sleep 8 hours a night).

If you were to train 5 hours per day, you would hit 1,825 hours per year of hockey training. 

Over a junior career that means you have about 9,131 hours over five years. 

(subtract 1826.2 for every year of junior you have played)

Pretty crazy when you put the numbers out in front of you.

Everyone is going to have that time.

So YOU must learn to get more from your time, money, and energy.

Leveraging Time

Now the question is: How will you use that time?

Will you be using it wisely?

Do you have a clear development system in place?

Here are the two biggest things you can do to leverage your time most effectively.

1. Work 5% Harder

The first thing you can do is make sure you outwork people.


So that should be your base: 

***Work 5% harder than everyone else on the ice each session.***

I realize this isn't new, but this mindset WILL separate you from the middle 50% if you follow solid training advice.

2. Don't Let Your Development Get Derailed

Many players' development gets derailed by:

  • Coaching advice from too many people that lack clarity

  • Coaches focused on short-term wins

  • Parents who lack information

  • Agents who don't have the player's best interest at heart

3. Get a Development Coach To Advise You

You need more than basic advice or advisor connections. 

What you need is someone who genuinely cares about your development. 

You need a clear, consistent roadmap to success.

You need a laid-out system that can adapt as you grow and that helps you prepare and successfully level up year after year.

And that’s what a true development coach will do for you.

That’s what I do for my players in the Next Level Academy (Online) and the Next Level Platinum Coaching Program.

Facing the Truth

So let’s face it… change begins with accepting the reality of the situation. 

The truth is :

  • That you're NOT as good as you want to be and 

  • Your plan will NOT get you where you want to go.

It's okay to admit that you're lacking clear advice or that you feel like you are in a fog of confusion.

Once you accept this, you've laid your foundation of truth. 

From here, you can build. 

You can assess what's not working and create a plan to fix it.

In the next articles, we'll dive deeper into these concepts, providing you with the tools and strategies you need to reach your full potential. 

Stay tuned. 

- Corson 

If you enjoyed this article and want to go deeper:

🏒 The Next Level Hockey System - Unlock Your Hockey Potential Online 🏒

Why did I create the Next Level Hockey System? To provide players like you with the guidance you need to reach your hockey dreams. The Next Level Hockey System isn't just a program; it's a roadmap designed to propel you to the next level.

Here's what we do:

🎯Step 1: Define Your Unique Hockey Identity

We kick things off by getting to know you. Through video analysis, coaching, and online courses, we'll uncover your unique strengths and playing style. Together, we'll forge an identity that sets you apart on the ice.

🧠Step 2: Forge Your Next-Level Mindset

"90% of the game is mental and the other half is physical" - Wayne Gretzky

True champions master their minds. At NLA, we'll develop your focus, confidence, and hockey IQ, laying a solid mental foundation for your hockey success.

🏒Step 3: Perfect Your Skill Stack

We'll help you hone the skills that align with your unique playing style. No more wasting time on mismatched training. We've got a game plan custom-tailored to your strengths.

💪Step 4: Optimize Your Physical Training

We've seen players hit the gym hard, but not smart. With our world-class physical training systems, you'll train effectively, focusing on the right areas that truly complement your hockey identity.

🤝Step 5: Integrate Your Existing Coaches

Got a personal trainer or skills coach? Awesome! We're all about teamwork. Our approach seamlessly blends with your existing coaching resources, ensuring a united front for your development.

🔄Step 6: Connect the Dots

We don't believe in fragmented training. At NLA, we help you pull it all together into a cohesive, efficient system. It's a full-fledged development plan designed to elevate you, level by level.

Ready to get started?

Are you ready to become a next-level player? Are you ready to stop guessing and start progressing? If you're serious about your hockey future, it's time to join the Next Level Academy. 

Book a FREE Discovery Call anywhere on the site and we will:

  1. Look over your elite prospects page

  2. Analyze your game film (that you send us)

  3. See where you are

  4. Understand where you want to go

  5. See how we can help you get there!

  6. And if we think you are the right fit we may offer you a spot in one of our player-specific Next Level Programs!

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Who is Corson Searles?

I am a former player & mental/performance advisor for AAA, junior, college, and pro hockey players. I am obsessed with dissecting atheletic performance potential, lifestyle design, and hockey development.


When You're Ready, Here's How I Can Help You:

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The Free Mental Masterclass

Unleash your on-ice performance by unlocking your mind

Join the hundreds of players who have taken control of their mental game and found their path to the next level

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The Next Level
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A next level group coaching program for serious hockey players who are looking to learn the mental tools and strategies to move up lines and levels. Learn to master your mental game and entire long term development system. Over 20 years of hockey experience and 1000s of hours of hockey study in a guided system to make you great!

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The Next Level Hockey Blueprint (Coaching Program)

A masterclass for high-level players who want a proven system tp get to the next level. Learn to master your mental game and entire development system. Use my Identity Shift Blueprint and in-depth curriculum to productize yourself as a player and become someone coaches scouts droiol over.

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The Confidence Mastery Manual

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