What is ultimately a rollercoaster of emotions, the season is straining for any player, regardless of the level. I remember when I played in the First Division in The Netherlands four out of seven days were planned around my hockey season. Whether it was food or timing of the foods, curfews, homework and so on, everything was co-ordinated to fit around a rigorous schedule. Much hasn’t changed in the last five years since I returned to the sport. During the season, everything revolves around hockey. All our social life and activities are planned around it so that I have enough time to recoup, focus and train for my games and keep myself in shape. Yet another sacrifice the player and the family has to make.
During this rollercoaster ride, we as players go through so much during 60 minutes of playing. Tempers boil over, your team mates can be your worse enemies at times and you are trying to put all the mistakes you might’ve made in a period out of your mind so you can perform better in the next period or shift. It is a struggle against the other team, your own mind and body.
So how do we cope with all of this? How can a group of guys survive the company of each other for all the long road trips and games? We get through with humour. Laughter is one of your best friends during a tough season. No matter how pissed off you are that you lost, there are always a few guys who can lift the mood in the dressing room. Jokes that keep us going are something that people would normally throw tumble weeds at, but if it works and lifts the team’s spirit for the remainder of the game it’s something we will use.
People who are able to use humour to their advantage in tough situations act as great leaders of the team, whether or not they wear a C or A on their chest. Sometimes the people who contribute more in the changing rooms and on the bench can be more valuable than the top scorers. Ultimately it is these guys who get the team going.
The only downside of the season and the sport in general is that you spend most of your free time with 35 guys.