Any draft day can be emotional.

Heck, the whole draft year can get the best of athletes.

As an athlete in the midst of climbing the ranks – the draft can become all encompassing.

From where you are sitting as the athlete – it can seem bigger than what it actually is.

Too many athletes get consumed in the unknown, the predictions, and the expectations – this results in 3 common challenges:

  1. Deterioration of your mindset and performance
    Which can be very costly during these crucial years of your career.

  2. Stress & worry about your career
    Instead of just enjoying the journey, which is a key to performing at your best.

  3. Slowing down your development
    You end up too focused on short-term results and overlook playing the long-game.

We work with a lot of players during draft years for those exact reasons.

Here are the 3 key steps to keep a healthy perspective and handle the “draft”:

STEP 1: Take a Critical Lens to the Draft

Be sure to use a “Critical Lens” when thinking about the draft.

It is not a make or break moment in your career like you might think.

The draft might be important, but the results (positive or negative) DO NOT predict the trajectory of your career.

It’s just a day, it’s just a result, it does not determine your future.

For example, only 60% of OHL first round picks ever get drafted into the NHL.

Positivity Bias

One of the biggest challenges is all the positivity bias players receive about the draft.

Everyone is going to want to tell you how likely you are to get drafted or how you are going to get selected. No one wants to be a “negative Nancy”.

Even the teams drafting you will say things like “yeah for sure we will take you in the third round if you are available” then BAM – change of mind in the midst of it.

So it’s important to take a critical lens to all this positivity bias. This does not mean to put yourself down but rather keep a healthy perspective on the range of results.

The mistake most players make is adopting this positivity bias and then putting all this internal pressure on themselves.

If you start telling yourself “I should get drafted in the top 3 rounds”, well now you will feel the need to meet that, and the reality is you can’t predict when you are going to go and every year many players go later in the draft than they were “predicted”.

STEP 2: Own Your Story & Move Forward

It is important to OWN your story, regardless of what happens.

If you are happy with your selection, don’t get complacent and take your foot off the gas.

Getting the result you wanted doesn’t ensure future success.

Yes, you can celebrate your achievement and own your success, but the work is not over, you need to keep developing.

If you are NOT happy with your selection, don’t get demoralized and lose motivation.

Not getting the results you wanted doesn’t prevent future success.

Turn the result into an advantage. Cultivate your resilience, increase your drive, and develop a “positive” chip on your shoulder.

Proving others wrong should not be your primary motive but it can be like adding rocket fuel to a fire.

It is Just a Result

The bottom line is that the draft is just a result.

It doesn’t predict the future – so don’t give it more weight than it deserves.

There will be players that get drafted very high and not pan out. While others will get drafted very late or not at all, yet go on to have great careers.

So regardless of your result, continue to be the hero of your story and take initiative in writing the next page of your life by staying grounded, centered, and enjoying the game you love.

STEP 3: Stay Connected to the Love of the Game

Remember to stay connected to the love of the game.

As you rise the ranks and your sport becomes more serious, it is very easy to lose sight of why you started playing in the first place.

When you were younger you didn’t start playing to get drafted, make lots of money, and become famous.

You played because it was fun!

But now all the flashy results of the draft, the next level, the fame, and the contracts can consume your focus.

You can have the goals and intentions to achieve those various results, but don’t confuse your goals with your why.

Your goals are changing but why you play remains the same.

The more you block out extrinsic motivators, and stay focused on things such as your love of the game, embracing and enjoying challenges, and having fun – the better you will perform.

Yes the draft might be important, but it is not everything.

Do not let it skew your perception of who you are as an athlete or person!

In summary any draft can be an emotional process, but you can keep a healthy perspective by following these 3 steps:

  1. Take a Critical Leans to the Draft
  2. Own Your Story & Move Forward
  3. Stay Connected to the Love of the Game

By handling the draft, you will be able to enjoy the journey of your career and optimize your performance.

Please share this with anyone you think would benefit.

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