Lots of things go into making your performance great, no matter what you’re doing. Playing hockey is no different.
The equipment that you have especially the quality of it and its reliability, play a part, as well as your mental attitude. You might often underestimate how much your mental attitude impacts on your performance.
Let’s explore this mental side of things.
When your mind is clear you perform the best
How often do you turn up to your hockey game thinking about other things? It’s an easy thing today in today’s world where you have so much to do. You might have homework you haven’t finished or a family commitment that you’re looking forward to. Each of these creates lots of thoughts that clog up your mind.
The funny thing with each of these examples is that you are thinking about either the past or the future.
When you focus on the past you think about all the things you should have done. They’re the things you wanted to do and didn’t. Or places you wanted to go and didn’t. Bottom line is, you didn’t do them then, so why worry about them NOW?
You can’t change what you did or didn’t do. Accept that and be okay with it. Set up a strategy for how you will finish your homework AFTER you have played your hockey game. If you do that and make peace with what is; the fact that you didn’t do it, you will stop worrying about it and free up space in your mind.
Funnily enough, once you do that you do feel clearer in your mind and that’s when your ability to focus in the moment happens.
When you can focus in the moment you make the best decisions
Focusing in the moment is all about being fully present with where you are.
You’re on the bench, waiting for your first shift change.
You’re in the net, set and ready to stop that first goal.
You’re on the ice concentrating on the opposition player that’s making a rush for his goal.
When you are able to be fully mentally present in the moment, your ability to make a decision becomes easier. You’ll instinctively shift left to block his rush. You’ll dive left to save the puck.
Things will happen more naturally and as I said instinctively.
Whereas when your mind is not focused on where you are and what you are doing, guess what happens? You aren’t able to fully focus on the play. Your ability to concentrate and make clever informed decisions diminishes.
Simple exercises to test if you’re focused in the moment
Here are a couple of simple things you can do before you step out on the ice to test your focus.
- Stop and standstill. Close your eyes. Notice if you can feel your toes and your foot in your skates. This is going to show you if you’re too much in your head and not fully in your body. the more rational your decision-making ability.
- Notice what you are thinking. Are you focused on what you should have done? Are you worried about what’s going to happen during today’s game? That’s future thinking and is just as dangerous as focusing on the past. Come back to the here and now. Where are you? What are you feeling? Get in touch with whether you are hot or cold. Do you notice a draft in the room? What sounds do you hear? What can you smell? Use all of your senses to focus on that moment. You will then notice that you aren’t so in your heads, and your thinking.
Do this each and every game, and during the game too, if you notice you’re not playing the way you want. Then notice the difference in how you feel during and after the game.
Karen Cherrett is a Sports Mindset Coach who specializes in coaching hockey players. Your game is only as good as your mindset. Karen coaches players to be more focused and play with ease, not stress. Life playing hockey should be fun. Your mindset matters. Your mental health matters. Play the game you love without the mental overload.