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To Reach The Next Level - Build a Unique Hockey Identity

Do you dream about dominating the ice, scoring goals, and playing pro hockey?

I get DMs almost every day from players saying this is what they want.

There are so many players who all want that same thing.

The question then becomes - what should I do?

I'm sure you have been told to "work really hard and trust the process" right?

That’s terrible advice for most players.

All this advice really does is leave you more anxious because you know you are not doing enough to make the NHL and people just say it doesn't matter.

YOUR DREAMS DO MATTER - that's why I am writing this.

I truly want to help you reach your potential and help you get as far as you can in the sport.

I made it to NCAA D3 and then decided that my passion truly is coaching.

I want to help you get way past me (if that's what your goals are with hockey).

Should I Trust The Process?

Trusting the process sounds good on paper, but in the real world, it only works if the process is the best one for you.

If not, you want to question the process.

You want to study the process and develop systems. 

This is the reason you feel so anxious all of the time about hockey.

It is because YOU AREN’T SURE YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH, and you still have not addressed it...

So, that's why it's super f***ing annoying when people tell you “Don’t worry! It will all work out. Trust the process”.

They really only say this because nothing is really at risk for them if YOU fail. 

They also probably say this to get you to stop annoying them with questions.

Having Skin in The Game

The biggest problem I see with advice in hockey is that coaches don't any skin in the game.

"Skin in the game" basically means that you have something at risk like time, money, energy, status, etc. 

You have skin in the game with your hockey career because if you fail, you deal with the consequences.

So be careful taking advice from people without skin in the game with your career.

That includes me too (haha), but I do hope to earn your trust when you apply these principles and see results.

Only a few people have skin in the game with your career.

You have skin in the game.

Your parents have skin in the game. 

But few other people do...

Yet they want to tell you to just relax and it will work out.

I am here to tell you it might not all work out if you continue on your current path.

Some strategies and systems can help increase your chances of success MASSIVELY.

We will talk about some of them later...

What Most Players End Up Doing

So here are the two main paths that most driven players follow when trying to get better and develop with hockey:

1. If they think they have some good trainers (and they have the money to afford them)...

They go the personal trainer route

  • Go to skills training

  • Do workouts with a trainer

  • Shoot pucks and stickhandle at home

  • Dont see many results 

  • Blame the skills coach, trainer, or lack of work ethic

  • Then they usually end up going to path #2

2. If they start to question their trainers, don't have the money, or are too fearful to invest in themselves...

They go the Internet Scavenger route

  • They get on youtube, Instagram, or Tiktok and search for scraps of info (this might be what you are doing right now)

  • They work super hard on whatever skills they saw on Instagram or TikTok

  • They copy their favourite player and become a knock-off version of them

  • They don’t really see much improvement 

  • They think it’s because they didn't work hard enough, or just didn't search hard enough

  • They keep searching and repeating the same process 


The Problem

I went down both of these paths and can honestly say that the personal trainer route is a much better one.

I say this because personal attention is extremely important.

Some general youtube and Tiktok videos can be helpful but they lack the personal context a personal coach or a well-thought-out training philosophy and/or system contains.

It is fragmented information.

You will be relying on getting lucky and finding the right information in the right sequence. 

That's not the ideal approach to follow.

Relying on Luck

So if you are not following any system, you are basically hoping to get lucky and stumble upon what works.

Think about it for a second...

See what I mean?

Not to say it’s impossible to succeed without a thought-out system, I am saying it relies on a lot of luck.

I am not a big luck guy. 

I am a  "put the systems in place and keep levelling up forever" type of guy.

So before we dig deeper into systems, we also want to consider a trap people fall into when it comes to development strategy.

The Trap of Being "Well Rounded"

When a player isn't sure what to do after searching and not improving, what's the logical solution?

“If I get good at everything I will be a much better player due to lack of weakness,”

Makes sense right?

Well, here’s the catch…

If you become average at a bunch of skills you probably will not become elite.

You won’t have any uniqueness to your game.

This lack of uniqueness will make you blend in with every other player.

If you blend in, you will not get to the next level.

Most players will simply go through a career of mediocrity and never scratch their potential because they just did random skills work and random workout plans.

If that’s the path you are on, then you may want to consider what I am about to say.

I will explain why the problems you are facing are probably because of two core issues:

  1. Lack of unique Player Identity (average at a bunch of things and nothing stands out)

  2. Try too hard to copy just one player (end up a crappy version of that player)

What Is Your Player Identity?

The first place to start is the Unique player Identity. 

The Player Identity is all of the abilities you have.

I like to think of it like a blob -> Identity Blob

Within this Identity Blob are all of your skills and abilities as a player.

You can expand the Identity Blob by improving your abilities. 

The shape of the blob is always changing as you add skills or as skills get worse due to a lack of attention.

The Identity is not the player you say you are but rather the player you are when you play in games.

It’s just like a personality.

You can say you are friendly, but if you are always mean, then you are mean. 

You can say you are a skilled forward, but if you don’t play with high skill and you hit then your current Identity is one of a lower-skilled hitting forward.

You have your current Identity and then you also have the things you aspire to be.

Now, the expression of your Identity is often limited by things like:

  • Your mindset

  • Your confidence

  • Your role on the current team

So that’s why we start with the mental game in the Next Level Academy and Next Platinum Coaching Program.

Because it's extremely valuable to be unique

The Value of Being Unique

Your player Identity is what makes you unique.

No one has your exact player Identity like your own fingerprint it is unique to you.

Many players try to copy one player and end up being a weaker version of that player. 

Smart players instead look at many players and they stack parts together to build their own unique skill stack (Identity).

They don't just do this randomly.

They do it with someone who can help them like a development coach or a skills coach.

Your unique skill stack is always evolving.

You start off with some abilities, then you slowly expand over time by stacking on abilities.

The main challenges are:

  1. Making sure you keep expanding your ability so you can play your current role and others

  2. To make sure you develop the right abilities for you, not wasteful skills that don’t help you in any way

  3. Being able to adapt and use different skills in different situations (this is where hockey IQ comes in which we will cover in later posts)

The great development coach Daryll Belfry once said: 

“Know your role, expand your Identity”

I believe this fully.

The game is constantly evolving. 

You must adapt or die -> You must expand your identity or fail. 

So now the question becomes what is a role and why is it different from Identity?

Role vs Identity

Your Identity is everything you can do which is unique to you.

Your role is the way your team needs you to play to win.

Sometimes you may get to just be your full Identity on the ice, but rarely will that ever be the case over the whole season.

For example, think of a player who is playing the role of a shutdown defenseman.

Suddenly your top offensive defenseman gets hurt and your job is now to step into that role. 

If you have the ability (expanded Identity to handle it) then you can step right into it and dominate.

This may allow you to keep that expanded role.

This was all because you expanded your identity to be prepared for the opportunity.

Others will say you got lucky, but you will know it was because you prepared your skills for the opportunity.

As the great Connor Mcgregor Said: 

"Luck is just when opportunity meets skill"

If not prepare for when luck finds you, you will very likely fail and may not get another chance. 

So by expanding your Identity you actually allow yourself to get "lucky" more often. 

Ultimately this all makes you more valuable as a player! 

We will dig deeper into value and how to increase your value as a player in next week's Identity Letter.

So make sure to subscribe so you don't miss it!

Hope you enjoyed this one! 

- Corson

If you want a shortcut to the next level and want a deeply thought-out system to fully transform your Identity in 8 weeks.

 (I spent 8 years developing this program)

Then check out:

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
Hockey Academy

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

Implement our Next Level Confidence System - To learn how to program your mind for deep confidence, Boost Your focus levels, & and systematize your training approach to align with your ideal Identity

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