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Why You're Not Getting Ice Time In Hockey (Looking Beyond Politics)

Updated: Jan 4

Look, I get it.

Politics plays a role in hockey for most players.

We have parent coaches, bad coaches, and many more shades of bad.

I went through most of those challenges in my career.

I am not here to argue that these things don't exist and that they arent frustrating.

They are of course frustrating.

But being bitter about them will not help you.

I know because I stayed bitter for years, heck, I probably still hold some it subconsciously now.

But if I could go back and give my younger self advice when I was in minor, or junior especially, it would be what I am about to break down in this week's Identity Letter.

So let's get started...

Showing up to the rink and playing consistently is something very few players truly have.

Everyone at the next level laughs at the player who plays an amazing game 1/10 games and horrible 9/10 times

Everyone at the next level drools over the player who shows up 9/10 games at a high level and only has an off-game 1/10.

Coaches at the next level want consistency.

They have to make a big investment in their players (with scholarships and salaries for example).

They don't want a player who they can only rely on 1/10 times.

Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.

But what does consistency mean in hockey?

Consistency doesn't mean perfect - everyone makes a few mistakes each game.

Consistency in hockey is acting or doing something in the same way over time.

It's about making consistently positive plays (plays that contribute to the teams goals).

When you make consistently positive plays, over time, your coach will trust you more to do so again in the future.

Trust leads to more opportunities.

More opportunities mean more chances to make positive plays.

More positive plays breed more opportunities.

The cycle continues.

The Coach Player Trust Cycle

It's a powerful cycle.

It can spiral up, and it can spiral down.

Both spirals can take you in very different directions.

Sometimes they spiral left (fail to execute), and sometimes they spiral right (succeed in execution).

If you are not getting much ice time - it is likely because you are alternating between these two spirals.

You are playing success/failure ping pong.

This makes it hard for a coach to trust you.

This makes it hard for a coach to play you.

One moment you're crushing it, the next moment you’re turning the puck over.

If you're not getting the ice time you want, you have to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself:

Is it really just politics that I am dealing with?

Or am I playing success/failure ping pong?

Am I really building positive trust with my coach?

Or am I losing trust every time I go on the ice?

The One Exception

The one exception to this rule of consistency and coach/player trust is for Outlier Offensive Players.

This means the players who can create/score a large amount of goals.

These players have such a high upside that coaches essentially gamble on them to score more than they get scored on.

Think a young (and maybe current) Mcdavid-style player or Ovechkin.

Both have been known to play very high-risk games, often guessing on the offensive side of the puck, keeping speed, and always ready to leave the defensive zone.

They can do this because his upside is so ridiculously high.

They are still relatively consistent players over the season, but coaches will accept a player stuggling to score for 5 games if he can put up 5 goals in 5 games right after.

I don't recommend this style though because unless you have that freak skill, it's hard for a coach to pick you and/or play you.

Without the massive upside, you become a huge liability.

This is why it's so important to honestly assess your game and know what you are capable of.

That leads us into the real issue most players deal with.

The Real Issue

So if we ignore the obvious exceptions (Like McDavid or Ovechkin), what is the real issue you are dealing with?

The real issue is that you are not in a positive trust spiral with your coach.

If you have had dominant games in the past, then you have the skill, and/or physical ability, to make consistent positive plays in the future.

You are the same player from game to game.

It's a myth that you have lost your scoring touch.

You don't just lose the ability to make plays in a random moment.

If you have the ability and have executed it before, you can do it again.

You don't have a skill block right now, you have a mental block.

The mental black you have is a consistency issue.

Consistency issues can be solved.


Working With The Problem

When YOU play inconsistently, it's because you lack the mental tools to make consistent positive plays.

That's the key problem to solve here.

When solving problems, I like to think of skills and abilities as water flowing down a river.

The wider the river, the more water (skill) that can flow through the river.

But if the river gets more narrow (bottlenecks), or has large objects (blocks) in the way then the flow of water (skill) slows down.

The bottleneck that YOU have - is that certain mental skills are limiting your ability to play with skill.

Your mental abilities are not allowing your physical abilities to shine through right now.

You are mentally bottlenecked.

If you want to play confident, tension-free hockey, you must first release tension in the mind first, the body will follow.

Once you release the mental tension and blocks, the flow of skills opens back up.

The Switch

Once the mind is removed as a block, you get to see what skills are lacking.

Most player I work with think that they have a skill issue when in reality they were just playing with too much fear, or tension to express their skills fully.

There are so many great players that hide in the shaddows, never really shining becasue they have such major mental blocks in their way.

Then you can work on the next bottleneck.

But if you keep hammering away at your stickhandling, but never solve the mental blocks, you will have so much skill that is not getting to flow through.

And if you want my help to:

  • Unlock your mental game

  • Play with high confidence

  • Unlock tension-free hockey in your game

I used to charge 1500 to learn these for 3 months, but now I am giving it to you for FREE to show you that this stuff works and builds your trust.

It might be the most valuable hour of hockey training in your life.

See you in the Masterclass!

  • Corson

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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.


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