For those of you who are competing in our sport in hopes of advancing to playdowns and the potential rewards that await (i.e. regional, provincial and perhaps even national participation) it's getting to be crunch time.
If you're a coach, you've achieved a level of certification, you've helped the team prepare a training plan, you've planned and helped execute on ice and off ice training sessions, you've attended a coaching seminar and, you've lost more than one night's sleep wondering if there's more than you can do to help.
As an athlete you've prepared yourself physically and nutritionally, you've attended the training sessions your coach has prepared (in some cases only those for which your life's responsibilities will allow and that's perfectly understandable), you've worked hard to be the best teammate you can be, you've maintained a daily journal of both your everyday events and those within the confines of competition, you've sacrificed some social time to be with your teammates. In other words, you've done as much as you are able to prepare yourself to contribute to the team's success.
That said, I recently looked the members of a team just like the fictional one to which this blog alludes and said the following, "The success you will enjoy both individually and collectively will depend more on what you do on your own than what you do with your teammates in team training sessions!"
With that team, I have spent a good deal of time demonstrating how to train individually, from on ice sessions with a friend and a hand-held recording device to reading publications on performance to learning how to practise making curling shots in the privacy of the athlete's dwelling place through mental rehearsal.
But, I always added that it's hard work, it's no fun but the rewards are off the chart!
When you stand in front of the mirror, you can't fool the person who stares back at you. That person knows if you're in the last group! Knowing what it takes to perform is my responsibility. Being willing to do what it takes to perform is the athlete's responsibility.
Only one men's team and one women's team will win the world championship in each of the categories for which world championships are contested. Does that mean that every other team failed? Of course not! That would make competitive participation meaningless if that were the case and thankfully it's not because, to use an of-cited phrase, "It's not the destination. It's the journey"!
Those rewards to which I referred are not the medals, crests and banners that are the spoils of victory for all to see, it's the person you know you've become as a result of the preparation for competing and the lessons learned by competing.
There's a quote on the title page of my coaching manual ("A Pane in the Glass: A Coach's Companion") that states it better than I ever could (author unknown) and I'll leave you with it as my best advice for performance success.