In the military US Army Rangers (among other soliders) have a saying for learning to enjoy the suffering they endure during long grueling training and while on extended missions in the worst environments…embrace the suck. It basically means that this mission or this training will be difficult and very challenging, but rather than bitch and moan about it, embrace the suck and get the job done.
In other sports like the Tour de France these guys suffer every single day during a 23-day long, 2000+ mile cycling race over some of most severe terrain possible. In this years 2013 tour, it was a pretty normal race until stage 18 (day 18). In this stage, riders completed a typical 107 mile ride over most iconic mountain in cycling, Alpe d’Huez. Alpe d’Huez is a 8.6 mile climb with an average gradient of 7.9%. To give you an idea of how hard it is to climb this mountain, the fastest riders in the 100 year history of the Tour have done it in around 40-minutes. In 2013, the riders went up Alpe d-Huez twice in the same stage (something never done in Tour history). Went interviewd prior to the stage a number of the riders were excited to complete such a monumental stage and that it would be fun to see who would last at the end.
Why is this important to hockey players you ask? The point of the military reference and the cycling reference is to show hockey players that there are other professions out there who suffer a lot more, and for a lot longer than during a hockey game or practice. Sure hockey is tough, and it’s tough to play at the highest level. But, hockey players simply don’t get the same “suck” as some other athletes.
When I work with hockey players I try to take the best of other professions such as cycling and the Special Forces and apply that to hockey training. I want players to train as hard as possible to prepare themselves both mentally and physically for the challenges of our sport. Too often I see players who walk through training or don’t take things seriously…and it’s not those players who move on to the next level. Instead, it’s the players who embrace the suck, get the job done each and every day who play the best hockey. Learn to do more, suffer more, and like the suck more and you’ll play better and better hockey!