Wouldn’t it be great to start a weekly podcast showcasing the pressure that all young aspiring hockey players are under and the toll it takes on their mental health. Obviously, there wouldn’t be any guests on the show because of the games archaic code and culture, young players wouldn’t dare to share their stories because of that stupid code and culture.
As much as hockey helps players develop positive life skills that will carry them through life’s hardest lessons, some things need to drastically change. Young players are struggling in silence.
Those struggling are intimidated to share their experiences because of the perception surrounding the game and their place within it.
I’ll never forget watching the “Replacements” starring Keanu Reeves for the first time. His famous quote regarding fear is truly legendary in my mind.
When asked to talk about fear, Reeves character said,
“Quicksand, no matter how hard you try, you just keep sinking.”
Well that sinking feeling is ever present in sports when players get in over their heads.
The pressure and anxiety that is felt by young players is real, it’s undeniable, and its hardly ever talked about.
As a scout, I see it every year. Something is clearly wrong, it goes deeper than just the normal struggles involved with the game.
We can talk about confidence all day long, but pressure rots all of that away, the pressure takes it toll every day. It’s inescapable. It never subsides.
If I could talk to every Draft eligible prospect I would tell them the following.
I realize the pressure and expectations are astronomical, but that’s all out of your control.
As the pressure and expectations mount, your passion, skill and love for the game will hopefully deepen. Things happen for a reason, don’t let the pressure, negative feelings or anxiety define who you are as a player or person. Your resiliency and character will be your guide.
Even if you don’t think you have, you’re constantly growing as a player and person more than you ever know.
In the moment, you might feel alone and on an island, but you’re never alone, everyone feels this way, everyone is experiencing the pressure. It takes a toll on everyone. You feel alone, because of the perception surrounding the game. Never let the code or the culture get in the way of talking about your thoughts and feelings.
I would love to be able tell every draft eligible or every player for that matter, to believe what I just wrote, but that’s not the case or the reality and they absolutely know it.
The games code and culture prevents countless players from coming forward. That’s the problem, that’s why these young players struggle in silence, that’s why they feel alone. That’s why the pressure feel insurmountable at times.
The culture and code that praises, promotes and rewards “team first” mentality stifles individuality and self-worth. It prevents players from voicing their feelings, emotions and experiences because of how they will be treated or perceived by teammates, coaches and organizations.
Players feel this way all the time, because they know it’s true. That’s the code, that’s the culture and unfortunately it starts very early on within the game.
Players feel vulnerable, they feel terrified that they will be perceived as being weak if they come forward.
To ask for help to come forward is a sign of courage not weakness. The code in the culture would leave players to believe the complete opposite, that’s the problem.
Wouldn’t it be great to start a podcast showcasing the pressure that all young aspiring hockey players are under and the toll it takes on their mental health.
Wouldn’t it be great to share these stories so every player wouldn’t feel alone.
The pressure is real, just like hockey’s stupid code and culture.
If you need help, if you want to talk, always reach out no matter what, always talk about it, you’re not alone, there are tons of people that are experiencing or have experienced exactly what you are going through.
You’re not alone. You’re never alone.