Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks Talking About the Winning Streak

The Chicago Blackhawks are attempting to make history tonight as they take on the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center. They are attempting to draw even with Anaheim Ducks of 2006-07 for the best start in history - 16 games without a regulation loss.

I have watched the Hawks a number of times and I am impressed with the confidence and dominance they exhibit. They are skating and showing great skill, and yet are winning the dirty battles on the boards and in front of the net. The Hawks will score beautiful tic-tac-toe goals and then also jam the front of the net and push the puck across the line.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Skill of Letting Go of Guilt and Embarrassment - Something all Players Must Have (Post 2 of 10)

Joel Ward of the Washington Capitals lived a hockey nightmare last May. With his team up in the third period of Game 5 versus the New York Rangers, Ward received a double minor for high sticking. Helplessly he watched the Rangers score with 6.6 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. To make matters far worse the Rangers carried the second power play opportunity in to overtime and won the game on a power play goal. Needless to say, Ward was very upset after the game.

Nicholas Cotsonika of Yahoo! sports wrote about Ward's feelings of letting his team down after the game:

Three times, he said he let down his teammates. Three times, he said there was nothing he could do as he sat in the penalty box. Three times, he said he had been hoping for a chance to redeem himself. He called it "a little mentally disturbing."
He could have just called it "hockey."
"It's a game of inches," Ward said. "It happens pretty quick. We were a few seconds from winning, and it turned into overtime into a loss, just like that." (Ward's late penalties give chance to Rangers, yahoosports.com)
How disappointing would that be for any hockey player, let alone an NHL player? Ward was feeling guilty and probably a little embarrassed about his penalties and how it changed the outcome of the game.
However, there is no benefit for Ward, or any player for that matter, to dwell on these feelings of guilt and embarrassment. Other than using them to fuel your commitment to preparing for the next game, dwelling on these feelings can become a distraction, lower your energy and confidence.

2. Avoid dwelling on guilt and embarrassment.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Mental Game Plan - Something all Players Must Have (Post 1 of 10)

Nothing like a good plan in a bad situation.

This sentiment about having a plan comes from the character Sam Axe from the show Burn Notice. It is a popular show on USA Network that details the life of a burned spy. In every episode the burned spy, Micheal Weston, has to come up with an elaborate plan to either to bring down the bad guys or save himself, his friends, or someone in need of protection.  At the show's core is the idea that a spy has to plan and be prepared for difficult situations to execute under pressure.

Like Weston and Axe, you too need a good plan to succeed in pressure hockey games.  And, because pressure hockey games are as much mental as they are physical, players need to develop a mental game plan that will allow them to be confident, focused within their role.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

10 Mental Toughness Strategies Every Hockey Player Should Know

Want to develop your hockey mental toughness? Then you are ready to take your game to the next level. 

While many players think mental toughness is something you are born with; this is not completely true. Yes, some players are more mentally tough just by their nature, but most develop their toughness over seasons of hockey. Mental toughness can be developed through your experiences. Furthermore, it can be learned by systematically training your mind to handle the pressures of hockey. 

What you need to know is that mental toughness is not a cure-all and is something you work on all the time. You do not master mental toughness and then never have to use mental skills again. Like communication, mental toughness is something to be mastered and continually worked on.

As I work with elite hockey players I am realizing that there are 10 keys every hockey player needs to know related to the mental game of hockey that are not talked about enough or at all. These skills or strategies you should use the rest of your hockey career.

  1. Have a mental game plan
  2. Avoid dwelling on guilt and embarrassment
  3. Avoid negative outbursts just to save your pride
  4. Venting is important, but do it in a positive way
  5. You are not perfect; it’s about the bounce back
  6. Before big games break a good sweat in warm ups
  7. Set process goals for games
  8. Train to play your game under pressure
  9. Recovering your energy is as important as training the body
  10. Develop mental weapons
Over the next five weeks I will post each one of these skills and provide details on how to develop it. Come back to the hockey edge blog to read some of the most important mental toughness strategies you will ever learn, and probably will not learn just by experience.