Whether you’re a rec hockey player, in youth athletics, going to college, or becoming a free agent in a professional league, you typically have the freedom to choose the right team where exactly you want to play. And that’s a pretty major decision.
Remember, where you play isn’t just about the actual location. The decision you make must also take into account the actual club/team/organization that you’re about to become a part of: How do you fit into the scheme and culture? How do you mesh with the guys on the team or coaches? Is there good leadership in place?
As a pro, the act of choosing the right team obviously becomes a bit more complicated, with contracts involved and a higher number of suitors. But as a youth or amateur athlete—where you generally have the ability to choose where to play based on the clubs, organizations or schools in your area—the decision is still a difficult one.
Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate through your decision:
1 – Meet Your Goals
Why do you play hockey? What personal goals do you want to achieve? Do you want to set records, win championships, or simply have fun and stay active?
Different organizations have different goals based on how they operate and the talent they have. While it’s easy to assume that the goal of any athletic club is to win a championship, that’s not always the case from year to year. Sometimes teams need to take baby steps and simply get to respectability and stability first.
When you look to choose the right team, be sure that your goals align with those of the organization. If you only want to have fun, you likely don’t want to be in a program that is all about winning. Similarly, if you are looking to push your game to the next level, you won’t be happy with a team that lacks talent.
2 – Fit Your Style
Every athlete in every sport has a certain playing style. For instance, you may be the aggressor or the facilitator, the scorer or the defensive hound. No matter what your playing style is, it’s important to know what style fits you best and how that style fits within a potential new team. Make sure that you are a good fit. Your new squad shouldn’t just support your style, but need someone of your skill set to succeed.
As a scorer, it may not be advantageous to go to a team that has two of the most elite shooters in the league; as a selfless passer, you may not be inclined to go to a team with puck hogs. Much like your personal goals, you should play for a club that aligns with your personal style.
3 – The Right Chemistry
Most importantly, no one wants to be put in a bad situation. Time and again we see professional athletes go to ill-fitting teams solely to make a money grab, and then be miserable midway through their first season.
Be sure to research the organization you’re planning on playing for. That doesn’t just include the players and coaches, but the organization as well. Talk to as many people as possible that have been a part of the team or club. What were their experiences like? Would they play for the organization again? Get a sense for the organization’s strengths and weaknesses.
If you want to accomplish your goals, be certain you’re aligning yourself with the right people. And when it comes to picking a new team, you should always put yourself in the best possible situation. Make sure the organization you choose is the best fit for your style, strengths and goals.
Travis Armideo is Marketing Manager at Gladiator Custom Mouthguards. Travis is a lifelong ice hockey player who played for various club and junior teams as well as playing lacrosse at the college level. Travis continues to be involved with sports by coaching high school and youth ice hockey. Find more of Travis’ blogs here. From an article appearing on CrossIceHockey.com—Where Rec Hockey Lives. © 2016 Digital Media Publications, Inc. Published with permission.