I have the fortune of working with some of the best players in the world. And, while they have the best skill sets, speed, power, you name it they all wrestle with a question that will determine the fate of their hockey careers. How to become a consistent hockey player at an elite level.
I am asked this question often by players and coaches. I think they sometimes assume either I have a trick to make it happen or the answer is so difficult that it is unrealistic for a player to carry out. The answer is, however, somewhat simple but requires much discipline. Brett Henning writing for the Avalanche Cares web site breaks it down rather simply: You, the player, chooses whether to be average or great in the way you prepare for and think about each game.
Playing Consistent Hockey comes down to a Greatness Approach by Brett Henning
I agree with Henning that your approach, mindset, preparation plan for each game are the keys to consistency. You need to consistently make the commitment to be your best. Messier's approach was to play each game like it was his last. Bringing that kind of intensity is good for many hockey players, however, the mindset does not work for all players.
Ultimately, if you want to be consistent you have to take personal pride in your performance as well as feel compelled to support your team (or flip it, not let them down). You must understand yourself, your goals, why you want to be an excellent hockey player, and what personally can get in the way of you being committed to excellence.
Through self-awareness you make the choice to pursue greatness. Then, you plan to avoid and overcome the distractions that sidetrack the most well intentioned hockey players. Therefore, each player will have his own approach to keeping himself motivated to bring his "A" game everyday. The real trick is in determining what preparation routine, what mindset consistently brings out the best in you.
One of the biggest distractions we all face - the trick of time. I have time to get better, to make the team, to win this game, to be ready to play. Time has a funny way of disappearing without us taking advantage of the time to pursue greatness. It is human nature to lose sight of the goal, to become bored, to lose focus. Players with a greatness approach waste less time than their teammates and opponents. And, they take more advantage of their time by making each repetition in the weight room, each sprint in off-ice, and each drill during practice count.
The true secret to consistency - constantly encouraging yourself to be your best.