The game happens so quickly that we have to react to situations instead of having the time to take a step back, evaluate the data and then decide on action. It’s a game of training and preparation, like being taught to pivot both ways so you can always turn towards the play, there are tools and strategies we learn that allow us to instantly react in these high pace situations.
Physically, we learn these talents, and through practice turn them into habits. The more efficient the habit, the more efficient the player. Well, the same goes for the mental part of the game. If we’re taught to yell and scream and throw water bottles at referees (because that’s what the coach does) we learn that getting upset when things don’t go our way is acceptable.
This type of behaviour, over time, becomes habit…and it becomes our reactive response.
The problem of course, is that reacting in such a negative way to situations detracts from our ability to perform at our best in stress filled situations.
The good news is, you can learn new mental habits, change your behaviours and consequentially change your results. By implementing a habit of focusing on what next great thing is about to happen, instead of seeing a bad call from the ref possibly ruining the game, you begin to look towards the better feeling place, and stay out of the drama of the negative. In doing so, like automatically turning toward the play you’ll create new mental habits which allow you to instantly focus on what’s next, and what you have control over now.
Do any of these statements sound familiar?
For the Player:
I can’t seem to let go of what just happened.
When I don’t play well or things don’t go my way I get angry.
I'm frustrated with my performance, no matter how hard I try; I can't seem to get anything going!
I've lost my confidence in games and I can't seem to get out of this slump.
I wish I would have the same confidence in games that I have in practice.
I feel like I play the game trying not to make mistakes.
It’s like I’ve just lost my desire to play…the game isn’t fun like it used to be.
For the Coach:
No matter what I say my team just doesn’t seem to get it.
If only the parents would stop telling their kids what to do and let me coach the team.
My team constantly takes retaliatory penalties.
The ref’s have it out for us this year.
Our team’s not very talented; I don’t have much to work with.
For the Parent:
My son/daughter deserves so much more ice-time than that other kid.
I wish my son/daughter would put in a better effort.
I can barely stand to watch (my goaltender child).
This coach hasn’t got a clue.
If any of the statements above apply, then you’d definitely benefit from mental training.