By Brad MacDonald
As you progress through your hockey career, there becomes less and less available spots on teams that you are trying out for. For example, in minor hockey, you are only competing against 50 odd other players in your jurisdiction for 20 spots. In Midget hockey, there are 75 kids trying out for 10 available spots. And in Junior, there are 100+ players vying for 5 available spots. As you get older, you will quickly realize that it becomes increasingly more challenging to earn a spot on a team. Many players, go into tryouts, believing that they are going to make a team, only to later find out that they were cut. It can be very discouraging to be cut for the first, second or even tenth time. However, there are some key lessons each player can take away from being cut:
It is a privilege, not a right, to play competitive hockey. Be grateful.
Even though you have been cut from the AAA team, it is important to remember that you are privileged to be able to play competitive hockey. Many of your peers in school or in your neighbourhood can only dream of playing hockey at a high level. Many families cannot afford to pay for their kids to enroll in competitive hockey. Others do not have the talent required to play high-level hockey. Be grateful for the opportunities that hockey has provided you.
Dealing with adversity
Just because you were cut, it does not mean that you cannot fulfill your dreams. By being, cut, you joined the exclusive class of athletes, who have been cut from teams before (Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi, Martin St. Louis, Adam Oates, Dan Boyle, Ed Belfour, etc.). These athletes have at least one thing in common: perseverance. They faced tremendous adversity, from being cut from teams, and came back stronger than ever. They use the adversity to fuel their fire, that ultimately led them to greatness.
Areas in which you need to improve
Obviously, you were cut for a reason. You were not good enough for that team, at that particular time. It is time to look in the mirror, and be honest with yourself. You need to determine areas in which you need to improve. Some areas, that you might look into improving or changing, include:
-Off ice habits: Getting proper rest, nutrition, workout regimes, etc.
-On-ice skills: Shot, skating, passing, etc.
-Work ethic: Playing a hard, two-way game. In most cases, you will need to earn the coaches trust in all three zones.
Hockey can be cut-throat
As with in life, hockey can be tremendously cut-throat. Often times, coaches are not going to hold your hand and monitor your progress, after being released from tryouts. You need to take matters into your own hands, to relaunch your hockey career.
 The key to preparation
If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is a great quote to live by. Were you joking around in the room, or were you properly preparing before your ice sessions? Did you get proper sleep, or were you up past midnight, scrolling through Facebook? There are many sacrifices that you need to make, in order to perform to the best of your abilities. Most elite hockey players have a routine in place, that they swear by. It enables them to get into a proper state of mind, prior to competition.