World Cup of Hockey: Why Team USA lost the grit battle
No matter how smart, skilled or precise an athlete is, the universe is much bigger than stats and salaries. Without the ability to adapt, regardless of the outcome, you become extinct — much like Team USA did when they failed to advance in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. With no shortage of talent in the NHL, how the hell does a seemingly perfect team like Team USA lose?
TJ Oshie's pre-game comment "If it comes to 100% skill, they win. 100% grit, we win" set off a spirited discussion over the merits of Skills vs.Grit.
This Tweet sums it up quite succinctly.
We decided to explain that while most professional athletes posses comparable degrees of Skills, the level of Grit varies from player-to-player.
You don't have to look too far back to find a similar "Grit vs Skills" scenario: 2016 Washington Capitals Stanley Cup run against the Pittsburgh Penguins. On paper, they were the team to beat. But when it came down to it, that Gritty X-Factor was missing and they were unable to match Pittsburgh's well rounded roster.
By looking at this Grit Factor (or variance) we can see clear examples of why and how teams can sabotage their strong Skills game.
SKILLS ARE A COMMODITY
In today's world "Skills" — while impressive and fun to watch in slow motion — are a commodity. Across every sport the media loves to hone in on the standouts like Sidney Crosby, Steph Curry, Tom Brady, Mike Trout and hold them up as untouchable. But in the absence of full context it's easy to overlook that to even compete at the Major/Pro level of any sport, mad skills are a "Must Have" requirement on the resume.
It should go without saying that EVERYONE on the bench has irrefutable talent.
With the odds of winning the Gene Pool Lottery about as good as wining the regular Lottery, most professional athletes take a different journey. They boot-strap their way through the ranks, matching the "Standouts" push-up-for-push-up. Only obstacle in their way? Their own mental endurance. Also known as their Grit Game.
THE GRIT GAME
Grit and passion can be fed and nurtured, but not taught. Each person is born with a certain capacity for emotion and drive and it's triggered differently.
There are many ways to define passion. In the context of sports and personality profiling, it's that ability to let go of perfection and play from a place of pure emotion; Trusting the unknown and allowing your game to evolve through a blind faith in the outcome.
Grit comes from a disregard of what "should" be and an acceptance of what "can" be.
As a writer for ZodiacHockey I use astrology to evaluate and predict how and why people react and respond in different contexts. It doesn't take much to understand how two different players with the same skill level may handle the pressure of a game totally differently.
What is more difficult to assess is the impact this unteachable Grit Factor has on a team's ability to unite toward a common goal – winning.
WHY CHEMISTRY IS KING
Grit is a contagion. Meaning it can spread rapidly and be highly impactful. Much like in many aspects of life, Grit is triggered and fueled by the masses; a shared energy, passion and desire for change and results. That said, if you're trying to trigger an emotional response from a large group, you need to have a balance of temperament. If everyone isn't inherently compatible in how they view or approach obstacles there will be an organic divide and the impact of "Grit" will be diluted.
Understanding where people derive their passion from and how they view challenges is revealed in a their astrological birth chart. The placement of the Sun, Venus and Mars at the time of their birth all provide hints to their emotional make-up and also how intuitive they are from night-to-night.
Building a roster of the right skill and temperament is the only way to win championships.
USA VS CANADA "GRIT FACTOR"
Team USA's roster had enough talent to take home the Cup, however they lacked compatibility. Emotionally they weren't in sync and their ability to get "Gritty" was visibly diluted.
By studying their roster allocation, only 17% of Team USA are Fire Signs. To win a championship you need more Fire. Fire Signs come with big egos and unwavering confidence — both attributes needed to defeat a team like Canada. What further compounded the chemistry was the high concentration of Water Signs. As everyone knows, water puts out fire and with 26% of the team water signs their energy directly conflicted with the 17% Fire Signs.
Highly emotional Water Signs can be huge assets as they are easily impacted by the Moon each night. They can contribute stellar performances one night and lack luster showings another. It's this potential for inconsistency that makes it important to not rely too heavily on them in a tournament or short series format. Water signs are quick to mentally exhaust and check out. The moody temperament of waters sign is contagious grit and quickly stifles high impact Fire Sign players.
Contrast the US allocation with Team Canada and it's easy to see why Canada has a strong and consistent showing each night.
What makes Canada unbeatable astrologically is their huge 43% Earth signs (the most technical and skilled players of the zodiac) and their 30% Fire players (the most passionate, proud and ego driven signs of the zodiac) These two alone aren't enough to win, so they carry a balance of 13% in both Air and Water signs — allowing them to avoid predictable and robotic execution. It's an impressive and appropriate allocation for a short tournament format.
Could this Canada Roster dominate across an entire season? Not likely. This roster would struggle over time with debates about the "right way" to do things and lack of satisfaction in playing time. Yes, even Team Canada has an Achilles' heel. It's not all roses every time they hit the ice, as daily planetary shifts can stir up ego issues. The only chance a team like Russia has at beating Team Canada will be to come in with Grit to spare and exploit any cracks in the Canadian ego armor.
THE TRUE GRIT
The Grit gene is here to stay. We rely on it as we continue to evolve; seeking to perfect and preserve the best-of-the best qualities to survive. You only need to take one look at Team North America to see how the evolution of talent is unfolding in the NHL. Survival of the fittest comes from the true belief that to win and survive you need to adapt and fight for your life.
- By Jessica Abel, ZodiacHockey