As an elite hockey player, things can get a little stressful. Whether it is dealing with school, hockey, friends and other commitments or handling a 6 game tournament that takes place over two days, stress is a thing that hockey players have to battle. However, for far too long, the mental side of the game has been ignored, and we here at Roster Point wanted to showcase some great mental tips to allow you to improve your game on and off the ice.
Pre-game – Visualisation
Visualisation is the key to success. Yes, it seems like a silly thing to do before a game, but for your body to have the confidence to do something in game, you have to be able to do it in your head. When you get to the rink, simply start blocking the other distractions out. You do not have to think about your crush, or what you are going to have for dinner, think about offensive and defensive plays that you can make. Think about making that breakout pass, or finishing that one-t at the top of the slot. Positive visualisation will help you succeed on the ice, and that has been proven from pee-wee up to the pros.
During the game – Emotions and Hockey IQ
First and foremost, a large part of the mental game is emotion. Hockey is an emotional game, and a single play can change everything. Do not get discouraged if you let someone beat you to a puck, or you get hit in the corner. A tough mental game will allow you to focus on the play, and be a difference maker on the ice, no matter the emotions that are running. A team first player will always get ice time, be smart, pick your spots and ensure that your emotions do not get the better of you.
There is an amazing Lowell Cohn quote on the Great One “Some guys play hockey, Gretzky plays 40 mph chess. The ability to read a play, know where someone is on the ice, and more importantly, where they WILL be on the ice is integral to success at the next level. This mental ability to ‘read the game’ has been dubbed hockey IQ. Hockey IQ is something you can work on, but it normally only comes to those who can play at the next level. Imagine the advantage you will have if you can predict where an opponent will place their block, and you will simply be cele’ing in the corner with the team when you roof it.
After the game – Meditation and relaxation
I know you are already rolling your eyes on this one, but meditation or some sort of relaxation will allow your mind and body to rest. If you are looking for meditation practices, I would strongly suggest a Yin Yoga class on YouTube or your local yoga place. This combines stretching with meditation and will leave you relaxed and stretched out, which is never a bad thing. If yoga or meditation is not your cup of tea, do what you need to do, no matter if it is a nap, or simply watch a movie, allow yourself the time to decompress after a tough game. This will allow you time to prepare for your next game, and most importantly get some much-needed rest.
Roster Point will get you to the next level, but your mental game is going to be a large part of the reason that you will be playing there. Take the time to learn your mind, and you will see amazing results both on and off the ice.