By Brandon Naurato –
At this point in the season, where is your focus? I ask this question of everyone – players, parents and coaches. Hopefully it’s where it should be, and not on something in the distant future.
As a player, there is no better feeling than approaching the end of the season and having the opportunity to play for a championship. Your summer workouts, private lessons, traveling all over the country for tournaments and showcases have all been a part of the preparation to have the opportunity to play in the big game when the time comes. You have been through the grind of the year, experienced your ups and downs, and now nothing else matters because it is a clean slate for everyone going into league playoffs and the state tournament. I remember this time. Teammates showed up earlier than usual for games, we had high-paced practices in preparation for the big weekend and we couldn’t sleep at night or think while at school because all we wanted to do was go to the rink, compete and win. These feelings ring true for players in the youth hockey circuit, too. What is better than experiencing playoffs and trying to play for a championship?
Unfortunately, there is a huge elephant in the room and there are distractions all around us when our focus should be singular. Suddenly, amidst the best time of the season, the worst time comes. Oh yes, parents, the time of the year that coaches and players dread and you stress about…I call it Silly Season. Silly Season is the time when we are more worried about what is going to happen the following season than we are about what is going on right now.
Listen to the questions I am hearing…
- Who is coaching that team next year?
- Is Bobby going to play for that team instead? If so, who are we going to pick up?
- Do you think they will take Johnny if I bring them Timmy and Jimmy too?
All the while, the current season is still going on…and the focus should be on the “right now.” Instead of worrying about situations that are several months away, let’s stick to the process and worry about the result of this season instead of the result of the line-up for next season. Would you go to the car dealership and ask questions and test-drive three different cars without even having a license? I hope not. Stop putting the cart before the horse – it’s simple. This is the best time of the year and its being pushed to the back burner because Silly Season is in full effect.
Parents: stop asking your child and their coaches about next season…instead, ask your child what they are doing to improve right now and if they are having fun.
Players: stop thinking about next season, where your friends will be playing and if you will even make the team. Instead, think about what impact you are going to make in your next game and which intangibles you are going to display to everyone at these games that are watching you. The message is simple for the players and it will save parents a ton of time on the phone as well as at the rink. The bottom line right now is that players need to go out and perform. This is the time to sell their brand as a hockey player and it’s not about flipping a switch and turning it on for the final month of the season. This has been an ongoing process throughout the whole year in which they have developed their skill on the ice, bought into the team system, grown as a young man or woman, and taken steps forward for the big test at the end. Why put Silly Season in their minds at all? Why muddy this great time with thoughts and worries about next season?
I promise you, the questions I mentioned above about what will come of next season will still all get asked after the fact. The chaos that goes into who coaches where, who makes what team, who is ticked off, who thinks they weren’t treated fairly and what the lineups for next season are will all fall into place. But it doesn’t need to be right now. If you remember anything from reading this, remember this:
Stop Silly Season. Let’s have the players focus on what really matters and let’s have the adults in their lives help them with this. Control what you can control at the time you can control it. Let the kids’ skills and play on the ice dictate their future opportunities.