Friday, 17 April 2009

Commit and dedicate

Commitment is something some of us are afraid of. Whether it is a relationship, work or sport we are required to commit our time and efforts into this element and make it work for us, rather than the other way around. Commitment is what makes champions and winners out of us and the time we have dedicated to our goals will have been rewarded.

In sports, specially a fast paced contact sport like hockey, commitment and dedication are the keys to success. It takes a lot of commitment to be successful and even though some of us may never achieve the stellar levels of Alex Ovechkin, Martin St. Louis et al. it is commitment that makes us thrive and succeed in our own plateau of competition and it pushes us forwards to higher levels of competition.

I came across a comment a hockey dad told his son on the internet a few days back and I think that if I ever have kids and they pick up any sport (preferably hockey) and want to make it as a pro, I would tell them to model themselves after and follow the best players in the team and commit to their sport 100%. To live it and breathe it.. Truth is that 90% of the guys in junior levels will never make it as a pro because they see it as a bit of fun and don’t necessarily have the mental toughness and commitment levels required to make it to the top flight in sport.

Commitment in sports is something that takes time and can put a severe strains on your family and friendships. I remember when I played in the Dutch first division that during the long and arduous season, all the weekends and the daily activities were modelled around my schedule. There were foods my mom would make to ensure that I would take on the appropriate amount of carbs and proteins. My parents were committed to both mine and my brother’s hobbies. My brother had acting and whenever he was in rehearsals we would arrange our family diaries according to his comings and goings. That is the type of commitment required from your parents at an early age. I was blessed, even though I didn’t make it as an NHL pro, that I had parents who were committed to catering for my desire for hockey. It was a big ask on the family and meant that my dad would spend considerable time on the road with me as the team didn’t have a bus to get us to our games.

Commitment from an athlete means constantly thinking about plays and how you can improve yourself. It is putting in the hours at the gym during the post season, pre season and in season periods. It is working back from an injury and making yourself believe that you can do it and that you are the best that there can be. It is making sure that things are OK at home and that your relationships with your partner and kids are in good order. At this level, we spend a lot of time away from home during the summer and the commitment to both our sport and our families is put to the test. It takes a lot but most of the guys turn up week after week to trainings and spend their weekends away from home on back to back road games. As Don Cherry would say; “It takes guts!”

Commitment to me is working my ass off on the ice and at the gym. I want to make sure that I have good wheels, good shot and good eyes for the game. For me that is my commitment. I want to be the fittest person on the team and make a difference every shift and I have to commit to the goals and to the work that will make it happen. Where I would like to be able to dangle like Robbie Schremp on Youtube, I have made a conscious decision to ignore the flashier plays that guys practice at trainings, but rather work on the skills that I listed above. It is unlikely that I’ll have a chance to pull a move that would involve me shooting from between my legs, and if I did that in a game situation, my coach would most likely have my head on a silver plate.

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