Wednesday, 10 June 2009

On the Brink

It has been a while since the last update and there has been a lot that has gone on, both personally and within the team. The delay in the update is due to a much needed holiday, which helped me to recharge and re-focus. For the better part of two months, you might have noticed that there has been a lack of updates on this blog, which is mainly down to some issues that I will discuss in this, rather lengthy, post.

Part of this blog has been me talking about the mental struggles for hockey players and being mentally ready to play. However for a while now I have been fighting off depression, which has greatly affected the way that I approach the game. I had my goals set at the start of the season, which I am still working towards, but when you are questioning everything in your life, you will realise that a small bout of negativity can amount to an ugly ball of self-loathing and doubt. The confidence that I built up, disappeared, in what seemed like an overnight occurrence. I can admit that the few games that I have played I have not been as effective or mentally sharp to compete at the explosive edge that is required from competitive players.

While I was struggling with issues that weren’t hockey related, it ultimately affected my performance on the ice and more importantly extinguished the flame that I had for competition and that was my driving force in the game. However, I’m happy to say that the holiday gave me the sufficient time to reflect and refocus on things that I feel are important in life and that require a change in-order for me to be truly happy and effective both on the ice and off it in the office environment.

One of the greatest challenges for guys at this level of play is to manage the hockey, fitness, family and work. I think that 90% of the guys would rather put all their energies into hockey, though unfortunately we need to put food on the table and pay the bills, which hockey unfortunately doesn’t do for us. I would love to do nothing more than spend my days getting into shape and work towards bettering myself as a player, but I have other responsibilities that I must fit hockey around. I still train actively on and off the ice, which I am proud of, but when you are bummed down by other issues the joy of training disappears and you are left forcing yourself to move.

With my renewed focus and drive I feel that I’ve turned a corner that will help me renew that focus and the competitive drive that I have yarned for.

While I was away the team played two games, one was a close 3-0 loss, the other a 10-6 loss. After the 3-0 loss there was a flurry of emails being sent around by a disgruntled player who felt that he hadn’t been given the ice time he deserved. Though I can understand his frustration as I have been in the same position myself, I must defend my team captain’s decision to run the bench the way he did.

In a close game where you are playing for the win of the game, teams need to cut the bench short inorder to give the players that are known for converting a chance to capitalise on the situations and help the teams. Hockey is a team sport and there is no room for individual ambitions going ahead of those of the team. Weaker players must understand that sometimes these decisions are necessary. Take the NHL for example; every guy on the team wants to play just as much as the next one, but the truth is that the guys playing 4th line need to give up their ice time in tight games inorder for the team to win.

Where we are playing rec hockey, we still play to win and on an individual level I don’t enjoy travelling around the country and get thrashed every weekend. The team comes first in a competitive cup and players wishing to place their own individual desires ahead of those of the team’s better take a good hard look in the mirror and perhaps think of hanging up the skates, as harsh as it sounds.

The problem I have with rec hockey is that we need players of all abilities to come forwards and play, which puts us in a disadvantage against teams like Cardiff or Swindon who have strong rosters and are able to field strong players game in, game out.

The two losses and the internal meltdown of the team means that we are now playing on the brink, if we are to play in the playoffs in August. We need a miracle to turn things around and we need to stay motivated throughout the end of the season. Hopefully, with the exception of holidays, we will have a strong team to put out there every game. My sincerest hope is that guys put their own pleasures of getting drunk before a game night aside and dedicate themselves to the end of the season. It is what we need now and we need to play strong hockey in training to make sure that we are able to carry that momentum in trainings to our tough away game schedule we have coming up. I am a firm believer that with confidence and dedication we will be able to take the games to the teams we are facing and improve our position in the standings. I for one don’t want to end up last.

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