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The Difference Between Elite Talent & Elite Work Ethic

02/08/2017, 5:00pm PST
By Kelvin


We all know the feeling. 

It’s a Monday morning in the rink following a tough weekend. Your team was up and down and ultimately didn’t get the results it desired. That’s alright though, it’s not about results, right?

Well, sometimes it is. Winning is nice. Winning is fun. The pursuit of the W is why we play. 

I’d imagine it’s the same for coaches, parents, and certainly the players: hockey is a mentally draining pastime and sometimes we invest so much time and energy into it it makes my head spin. 

But then something funny happens. We look to the future. We take stock of the week to come and the opportunity we have before us. The opportunity to get better. 

The opportunity to work. 

The definition of elite work ethic is the ability to seize that opportunity when every drop of blood in your veins is telling you to retreat into the shadows and go back to bed. 

Now, imagine you had equal talent to go with that work ethic?

Where Does Elite Talent Come From?

I’ve had the pleasure of coaching some of the lower mainland’s most talented hockey players. From atom players to midget players to university players, I’ve witnessed firsthand the incredible things a hockey player can do when they’ve been blessed by the hockey gods. The skill that these kids are displaying nowadays - it’s beautiful to watch. 

So where does that skill come from? Like I said, much of it is dished out by a natural unseen force. Genetics, motor skills, reaction time - these all play an enormous part in determining whether or not a player can be considered talented or not. 

Quantity comes into play as well. Being good at one thing isn’t good enough anymore. The player who’s good at everything? Well that’s simply a wonderful stroke of good luck, right?

But whether you’re a well-rounded, talented hockey player or you’re distinctly lacking in a certain area, there’s a tool required by every player and every athlete if they truly want to get somewhere. 

The Reality of Elite Work Ethic

The hardest working athletes in the world are those who do so when no one is looking. When the crowd is roaring and the parents are hollering, it might not be easy to work hard, but it’s sure hard to not put in an effort. 

An athlete has only him or herself to count on when no one is looking. These are the moments when elite skill doesn’t count for much if there’s no work ethic to act as a skeleton for achievement. Again, it sure helps to have a base of talent, but it’s not a chicken or the egg scenario. 

Work ethic comes first. Then skill. And then more skill. And through more work, even more development of talent. 

The great thing about elite work ethic is it applies to everybody. Whether you’re Jaromir Jagr or Jaromir Nobody, everyone can work hard with the talent bestowed by the hockey gods. 

What would you rather have?

Both, right? Yeah, me too. 

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