Why they are ‘Masters’

This week I was fortunate enough to travel with a friend of mine down to Augusta for a couple of the practice rounds at the Masters. 
If you didn’t already know, like many old hockey players, I love golf.
So this week’s blog is going to tie golf in to what we do.
“How is that?” you ask. Well, with the hockey season ending and tryouts going on or finishing up, I wanted to address off season training and your ‘plan‘ for the summer. 
I was struck and amazed while I sat at the practice range at Augusta National and watched Tiger Woods and some of the best golfers on the planet work and prepare. Now remember, this is after playing 18 holes of golf in about 84 degree weather and walking one of the hilliest courses in the world. Tiger stood there and hit ball after ball after ball and focused on every shot for hours after he already played his practice round. This is a guy who is ranked number 1 in the world and was playing great coming into this week. You would think he thought he was already ready. But no. He just kept going. Working, practicing, preparing. I knew and had heard about his legendary work ethic but once you see it in person, things really make sense. We only see a glimpse, the refined polished product, on tv for a couple of hours but the amount of preparation and behind the scene work is staggering. It is the same for a lot of those pros. That is why they are pros……
I watched Phil Mickleson who some say is the best chipper to ever live, work on his chipping for about an hour and a half after playing, with no break……The commitment level of those guys is off the charts.
So how does this relate to our sport? 
I remember a line I heard a long time ago that I love and it has stuck with me. It goes, “There comes a time in February when the hockey gods will ask you what you did in June.” I love this. It is something you should repeat to yourself all summer long.
One of the things I wish I did better as a very young player was  train harder than I did. That is something I want to convey to you. I remember winning the Memorial Cup, getting drafted in the first round to the Philadelphia Flyers and feeling pretty good about myself. I figured I must be doing things right….
I went to my first training camp and they put me in with all the veterans for fitness training. One of our tests was the bench press where you were supposed to be able to do your own body weight 10 times. At the time I weighed 182lbs and I think I eked out  8 reps. I then watched Tim Kerr who was a 50 goal scorer 4 years in a row in the NHL and weighed 225lbs, bench press his weight 26 times!!!! I was shocked and amazed. I also clearly knew that I was fooling myself thinking I was working hard enough to play with those guys.
So what I did the following summer was what I had to do and what I should have done earlier. I lived down in Philadelphia and every day that summer met with Philly’s legendary strength coach, Pat Croce. At the time I thought he was trying to kill me…..he came close. It was the best thing I ever did. I started the summer at 180lbs and by September I was 198lbs and in the best shape of my life. Although I never had a hall of fame career, trust me, I never would have played any games at that level if I didn’t take drastic steps and do the prep work to become a pro that summer.

My point with this story is sometimes you think you are prepared and doing enough, but you really aren’t.
Don’t find yourself shocked. Instead, be the one who shocks!!! Get a plan for the summer. Know what you are going to do training wise. Set your goals for what you are going to accomplish. Do the work that will make you noticeably different come September. Work with the people who are going to train you and prepare harder than everyone else. When you think you have trained hard enough, train harder. When you think you can’t do anymore, do more……..Be ready for next season and when someone asks you in February what you did in June, you have an answer. 

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