California Rubber

California’s and Nevada’s Authoritative Voice of Hockey

Behind the Bench: The work, the grind, the effort


In my last column, I talked about having perspective and appreciating where you’re at while accepting what you actually want to accomplish (and be OK with that).

Today, let’s assume you want to be the best and you are taking action to be the best.  

What does that look like?  Are you really paying the price?

People talk about sacrifice…

Sacrificing what?

What are you sacrificing if you REALLY want to be the best?

Nothing. You’re sacrificing nothing.

Every second you spend working, you are one step closer to your goal.

Every minute you spend working out, you are just a little bit bigger, stronger, and faster.  

And closer to your goal.

Every hour you spend on your craft, you “should” have gotten better and closer to your goal.

You sacrifice nothing. You do not sacrifice hanging out with your friends or not eating crappy food or not sitting at home playing video games.

Why don’t you sacrifice those things? Because you don’t care.  

They are irrelevant things done by other people that don’t want the things you want. You want to be the best. You need to be the best and you are focused on being the best. Everything you do is filtered through that lens.

Essentially, is this taking me toward my goal of being the best or not?  

If the actions are not taking you toward your goal, you’re probably not having as much fun as you could be having.  

At least for some, on the extreme.

The point is this:  For some of you, fun is getting betterThe act of improvement. That is great! For some of you, fun is winning. Also great!  

But in pursuit of your dream:

It should be fun getting under a bar squatting 325 for eight reps.

It should be fun getting ready to play your third game in three days when your legs hurt.

It should be fun paying the price to get you towards your goal.

Why is it fun? Because you are wired differently than everyone else. You don’t have fun sitting around watching a movie. You have fun working, working towards your goals, working towards your dreams and watching them come true.

I can tell you. It’s FUN. It’s really fun.

When all that hard work pays off, it is worth every second of effort.

I got a taste of it and then it was yanked away from me during my flirtation with the NHL, but I can report back and exclaim that almost any amount of effort is worth the pleasure of achieving it.

That said, if that is not your goal and this does not sound fun to you, GREAT! Have a ball and just enjoy the sport. Enjoy hanging out with your friends and enjoy the extra free time you have.

I, for one, am very jealous of you. I derive pleasure by working towards a goal at a rapid pace. It is how I find joy in life. It can be a hard road sometimes.


You want to be the best. Start having fun working, training, focusing, and achieving your goals. It is fun. The work is the fun.

If you do not have that mindset and want to get it, I have great news. You can get it! We will talk about that later.

For now, I want to urge one specific point: If you want to be the best, start enjoying the process — the work, the grind, the effort.

Truth be told, 90 percent or more of what you will do is a grind.  

So start learning to enjoy it!


Noah Babin played NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Notre Dame and currently coaches with the San Diego Jr. Gulls youth hockey program.

(April 14, 2023)

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