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Your Best Shot At Making The NHL (WHAT YOU NEED TO HEAR)



Let’s be real, it’s very f****** hard to make the NHL.

It’s even harder if you are not a gifted athlete.

And it’s basically impossible if you’re not a gifted athlete AND your training sucks.

So let’s face it…

You will not get to the NHL doing what you are doing right now with your training.

There, I said it.

I bet you needed to hear that.

Too many players get too comfortable.

They get too warm and cozy saying they are going to make it to the NHL.

Then they lay back and hope the contract will appear in their lap.

If you are a minor hockey player you think that you have tons of time and things will just fall into place, just know time moves faster than you think.

If you are a junior player, you are probably starting to see that it’s going to be pretty tough to close the gap with the top-end guys who are getting drafted into the NHL.

Once you reach around 20, you start to realize that there is a solid gap forming between you and the guys on track or already in the NHL.

If you are one of these top-end guys, then it probably feels good to see how this gap has formed.

If you are not one of those top-end guys, it probably feels like your hopes and dreams are lightyears away.

They might be far, but they are not completely out of reach for some players.

Even if the NHL is not on the horizon, then there is still a massive opportunity to carve out a career for yourself in hockey.

You are limiting your potential because of your mindset.

You are missing out on a career of fun and excitement because of your mental game.


What You Need To Here Right Now

I want to tell you something extremely important.

If your goal is to make it to the NHL you need to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself:


  1. Do I really have the athletic talent to do this, or am I completely dreaming of playing in the NHL? (because you do need some level of base athleticism)

  2. Do I REALLY want this? Or am I just saying that to sound good? (because the road ahead will require a ton of effort)

  3. Am I really going to go all in with my career? (this is something few players really do, they just say it like I did

  4. Am I willing to push myself to my true limits? (Because you have far more ability than you think, but you will need to get uncomfortable to get there)


Take a few minutes to pause and really ask yourself these questions.

These questions must be answered honestly.

If you don’t have time to answer them, then maybe this NHL dream is not for you.

Maybe you don’t want it that bad.

That’s ok too.

Just be real with yourself.


A Small Window

You have a very small window to succeed in hockey.

You really only have from the age you are reading this, to about 25 years old to really establish yourself in hockey.

Some may even say it’s closer to 22 to 23 years old where players are either:


  1. On the rise coming out of college

  2. They are kind of level off and focus on other things like a full-time career outside of hockey, and/or a family.


It's not a hard cut-off, and you definitely have the chance to pursue a pro career in your 20s, it’s just a lot harder and more complicated when you have to provide for yourself and play a sport at a high level.

It’s also harder when you have watched a massive gap form between many players who were on your level a few years before.

I want to be clear: it would be silly for me to say that something is impossible.

It would also be silly for me to say you ‘should’ or ‘should not’ do something with your life and/or hockey career.

You can totally start taking things seriously in your 20s and make high-level pro.

I simply want to prepare you for something you will likely need to face as a player.

You are not doing enough and you are not doing the right type of stuff.

This may motivate you to work harder now so that you have much better hockey options when you are older.

I am directing this article more specifically at players who are under 20 and that have that 10-Year Development Window from about 13-23 to get them on the NHL or high-level pro path.

This is intended to be a wake-up call for those players.

I want to give you your best shot at making it to the highest level possible in hockey.

So you can have no regrets at the end of your career.


The Harsh Reality Coming

Here is the problem you are walking into…

You are doing the same general thing that everyone else is doing and expecting different results.

Doesn’t it sound crazy now that you hear it?

Of course, you might be doing a little more work than the lower-level or average players.

Just so you know, there are still thousands of players out there doing power skating lessons, skills lessons, and working out a lot.

If you want to get different answers you must ask different questions.

Some good questions to ask yourself if you want to start doing something different:


  1. Do you have a clear understanding of who you are as a player? (if not you should establish your unique player identity - which we will talk about later)

  2. Do you have a detailed training strategy to build you into the player you want to be? (if not you should put one together)

  3. Do you even have an organized system for your training? (if not, you should use my training Tracker to start getting things organized)

  4. What are you doing for focus, confidence, and IQ training? (If you don’t have a system you should start with my free mental training course)

  5. What is your system lacking that would make it better for you? (go through everything that you do each week. Figure out what’s making you better. Remove what is not.)



Gaining Traction

You can work as hard as you want, but if you don’t do effective work, you will get little, to no results.

Poor development strategy is like spinning your wheels while your car is stuck in the sand or snow.

You might get a little traction and creep forward, but you will mostly stay in place.

Or worse, you can develop poor habits and drive yourself away from your hockey goals.

Developing poor habits is like losing traction driving up an icy hill.

Your wheels spin out of control and you start slipping back out of control

This is a terrifying feeling in a car.

It’s also similar to how it feels in hockey when you have put your whole life into your career and you feel like you are just sliding backwards.


A Good System

A good system is like when your car wheel finally gets traction

It’s that feeling when your car rockets out of the rut and you know you are finally free again.

That’s what happens when players find the right system for them.

When their mindset clicks into gear: they find their inner drive, figure out they have great potential, and their development takes off.

Players feel like this when they join the Next Level Accelerator Program.


So What’s Your Next Step?

What are you going to do now?

If you want to go all in on your hockey dream, then the rest of this letter should help.

If you don’t feel connected to what I am saying, then probably best you stop reading now.

Let’s get into it…

Let’s talk about what you can do to truly go ALL IN WITH YOUR HOCKEY CAREER and give yourself the best chance at playing in the NHL and/or high-level pro.

(we will keep digging into this in future Identity Letters too)


Potential Over Professional Mindset

Let’s get one thing clear.

You do not NEED to make the NHL to have a great career.

Some players will never make the NHL.

They just aren't gifted with the athleticism, physicality or natural skills required to compete against the best in the sport.

I know this may bug some people, but it’s a fair point to make.

If you are in this boat, no reason to be discouraged by this.

(Also, no reason to not work to prove my belief wrong).

I do believe for all players, there is a mindset shift that needs to happen if they want to have the best possible shot at making the NHL…

I believe that instead of stressing yourself out about making the NHL, you want to focus on:

REACHING YOUR FULL POTENTIAL.

Circumstances may get in the way, or try to slow you down, but if you stay laser-focused on how good you can become by the time you are 25 or 30, I think most of your stress would melt away.

The pressure is suddenly removed when your goal is to see how great you can be.

It makes things a lot longer term and it makes it a fun game you get to wake up and play.

Each day you can wake up and ask yourself what can I improve today?

And then have fun experimenting and levelling up.


Is Working Hard The Secret?

This is one that you hear all of the time.

Everyone says to work harder.

I want to expose you to elite hockey players and athletes who are trying to make it.

Let’s get this clear though: this is not referring to what current NHL stars are doing, because these guys already made it.

You are not Johnny Gaudreau, so you don’t want to train like him.

You want to learn from players who are similar to you in size, and skillset and who came from a similar position as you are (age, area, league, ability, etc).

Do not get caught in the trap of thinking you want to copy what a few freak outliers do at the end of their journey.

Instead, focus on what people like you, from similar situations, did.

What these players did was work super f******* hard.


Setting a New Hard Work Standard

First off, this is not what MUST do, this is just how I would recommend doing it if you want to maximize your days.

Understand that there are athletes out there who are committed every hour of the day to get better.

They Train, Eat, Recover, and repeat as many times as they can per day.

They do that every day except for their rest days.

Olympians dedicate every waking moment to being an Olympic champion.

They either do that, or they have no shot at being a champion.

There is real “time off”, only work, and recovery (which may look like time off to you, but it is all part of a system)

This video of one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time shows what it takes to be the absolute best at something in terms of work ethic:

In hockey, we get away with slacking off.

We can blend into a team and hide our insufficiencies.

But they do catch up to you eventually.

So you must ask yourself if this is really what you want to do.

You don’t have to get ALL-IN.

But if you want to give yourself the truly best chance at playing in the NHL, you do have to GO ALL IN.

It’s obvious, isn’t it?

If you don’t want to do it, there is some player just like you who is willing to sacrifice it all for the dream that you have.

One day you will probably meet that person and you will have to face that they put the work in and you didn’t.



So how bad do you want it?

Are you going to be the best version of you?



It’s time to set a new standard OR stop saying you want to play in the NHL.

Because if you really want it, going all in is not negotiable.

Going all in is the BASELINE.

It’s that simple.

Next.


A True Work Day

Before I leave you, I want to break this down a little bit more.

I want to give you some actionable advice to push yourself each day.

If you have decided you are going all in with your dream to make the NHL, then here is what a typical day should look like.

If you have a job, then you must pack as much as possible before and after your shift.

You must also put in the work on weekends too.


Here is a general ALL-IN Plan:

Wake up early 5-7 am

Eat

Meditate to build focus

Visualize to build confidence and IQ

Stickhandle and/or shoot pucks to build skills

Eat

Skate / or rollerblade session

Eat

Hit the gym and hit the first main session

Eat

Nap for 90-180 minutes for optimal recovery

Eat

Complete the second mini-workout, or skate (if you didn't in the morning)

Eat

Study film to build hockey IQ

Meditate

Stretch

Plan next day

Sleep 8-10 hours


(I work with my 1 on 1 client to build a custom system for them based on their goals, needs, and lifestyle).

If your day isn’t packed with mental training, skills training, physical training, and high-quality recovery then you are missing out.

Someone else is doing it.

If you don’t know how to do these things we cover it all in the Next Level Accelerator.

Or go on youtube and try and find some tools.

But realize great players invest in themselves.

Bedard, Mcdavid, Matthews, and most NHLers worked with skill coaches constantly.

They had physical trainers as well.

So either use my all-in-one program or go find someone else’s program.

This is what my top guys are doing to get better in our Next Level Programs.

You talk the talk, it’s time to walk the walk.

No more excuses.

Plan your days and pack them with smart work.

Next.


1) The Development Zone

Skills are like a muscle in a lot of ways.

If we want a muscle to grow bigger or stronger we must strategically increase the load on it.

This will send a signal to the muscle that it must adapt by growing larger, and/or stronger.

Skills are very similar.

Far too many players live in the comfort zone where they never mess up and always look good.

They are told that good players don’t mess up, so they assume the key is to make the smart play that works.

But that’s not how you grow.

You wouldn’t go to the gym and keep lifting 1lbs weights and expect to develop strength, power, size, etc.

So why would you expect that going easy in practice, or doing the same thing over and over is going to help you?

You wonder why you suck in games.

It’s because you never forced their skills to adapt.

You didn’t fall in a single training session.

You never lost the puck in the drill.

The game became hard because the practice become easy.

“You can be comfortable in training, or in the game. You can only pick one. Choose wisely.” - Corson Searles

Read that again.

And again.


Where the Development Zone Begins

Where the comfort zone ends is where the development zone begins.

The development zone is where you make mistakes about 2-4 out of 10 times.



You know you are in the development zone when you are moving so quickly that you are messing up a lot.

By pushing yourself here you will become faster and more skilled over time.

One key thing to know here though: You must also return to some form of mechanics work to make sure you are moving well.

You don’t want to learn poor mechanics.

You also want to be able to learn how to relax and tense your muscles on command (this will be covered in a future blog article).

But if you practice on the development zone at least 30% of the time you are on the ice, you should be safe.

So start getting into the development zone every session to force your skills to adapt and grow.

No more trying to look like everything is easy in practice.

Work.

Improve.

Let the game be where things look easy.

Next.


2) Smart Work

So now that your work ethic has been established, the next question becomes: how do I get the most out of my training?

Every player has the same 16 hours of waketime if they sleep 8 hours.

So what can they do to maximize their time?

This is a complex topic and I built an entire course in the Next Level Accelerator Program.

The first place to start is understanding what kind of player you are and want to become.

I call this establishing your Player Identity.

To avoid taking up all of your time, we will talk about this in detail next week

THE NEXT LEVEL ACCELERATOR - PAID

In just 8 weeks to complete confidence and dominance.

The Next Level Hockey System isn't just a program; it's an online coaching roadmap designed to propel you to the next level.

Here's what we do:

🎯Step 1: Define Your Unique Hockey Identity

🧠Step 2: Forge Your Next-Level Mindset

🏒Step 3: Perfect Your Skill Stack

💪Step 4: Optimize Your Physical Training

🤝Step 5: Integrate Your Existing Coaches

🔄Step 6: Connect the Dots

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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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