Bouncing Back After Being Dropped Down a Division

Hockey Helmet

Bouncing Back After Being Dropped Down a Division

Hockey HelmetBy Elaine Veltri

Imagine the exhilaration when an athlete is recruited from farm level to professional status. Then consider the sting when an athlete is asked to step down a tier. In either instance, such is the ebb and flow of competitive sports.

Rejection is never easy for any athlete. But it is almost unavoidable when playing a sport, especially hockey, when players are elevated or demoted because their skill set has either strengthened or diminished. It’s how you handle rejection and/or change that becomes key in moving forward. Will you take it personally and overreact? Or will you process it and look for a door that opens new opportunities?

Players are often asked to leave a hockey division because their waning skill set or other factors have impaired their ability to play up to par.  Returning from an injury may be another reason a player steps down a division while they recover. Whatever the reason for the call to action, being dropped can be an uncomfortable experience for both the bearer of bad news and the player on the receiving end of the message.

To cope with the disappointment after an unwelcomed change, consider the following:

  • Take time to process your thoughts and feelings. It’s normal to feel disappointed when you’ve been asked to step down. But avoid taking the decision as a personal attack. It will only make it more difficult to move forward. Approach your next steps with positivity and with courage to transition in a new direction.
  • Keep your emotions in check. It’s easy to become angry at the decision, but it’s not healthy going forward. If you want honest and reasonable feedback, avoid allowing anger to be the over-arching emotion. A positive response will speak volumes about your character and the objective feedback will give you an opportunity to take something valuable into the future.
  • Use it to your advantage. Rather than letting the outcome define your future, use it to your advantage when pursuing other opportunities. When you join another team, remind yourself you’re bringing your best performance, your experiences playing with more advanced players and your enthusiasm for meeting new players and forging new friendships.
  • Prepare yourself for your next adventure. If you’re stepping down a level, look for ways to better your game as you prepare for the next opportunity. Talk to your new co-players, register for pickups and get in some stick times to keep yourself connected and in shape. Playing with your new teammates will give you a chance to get to know each other better, which will help the team perform better as a whole.
  • Keep things in perspective. Remember, players evolve, peak and decline over time. Even the best players will experience performance highs and lows. If you keep things in perspective, you can overcome and avoid eroding your self-confidence, which can hamper your performance in your new endeavors.

Even if you were asked to step down because of your skills, remember that it doesn’t mean you won’t excel in another division. Believe in yourself, avoid being too hard on yourself and view the change as an open door to new opportunities and life experiences.

Elaine Veltri is a freelance writer, blogger and retired journalist. She writes for a number of publications, covering everything from health and home to sports and life experiences. Before becoming a freelance writer/blogger, she covered crime, courts, health and senior issues for The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, SC. Learn more at

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