I hope you are all doing well and happy to be back on the ice, in some form or another. I have had a chance to skate now with many athletes (socially distanced of course) and let me tell you I am so grateful to see all the smiling faces!
I wanted to take the time to talk about one of the main fundamentals of skating: stance. Proper hockey position is the building block for every other hockey skill. It can give you twice the power on every stride; better passing accuracy and even a harder shot. When we teach a proper hockey stance we want to see:
*Knees bent at 90 degrees.
*On Flatts, feet roughly shoulder width apart, chin in a straight line with your knee and toe.
*Hips are low; butt is out and shoulders back.
You want to have a solid stance so you can get a full extension stride. On every stride we want to see you push at a 45 degree angle to a straight leg and finish with a toe flick. You are only able to get full extensions strides and proper toe flick if you are nice and low and have a solid hockey stance.
I know I am constantly saying ‘bend your knees’ and ‘get lower’ but it really is the most important part of skating. Staying low with help you have better balance and lower your center of gravity therefore making you a stronger more efficient skater.
Organization is the ultimate tool in times of uncertainty and uncharted waters. Ensuring you have a solid routine in place can provide balance and allow you to be mentally prepared during challenging times. Set a daily routine that is attainable and manageable with your schedule. If you have a pathway set up for your day it will provide direction and can relieve the stresses of your busy schedules. As the saying goes “failure to plan is planning to fail”.
Good luck to all athletes in tryouts these coming weeks, just remember to work hard and no matter the result be proud of your efforts and hard work.
“Uncertainty” is a common word we hear about the world we live in these days. As both an athlete and a person some other words may come to mind such as “fear, sadness, and challenge”. It is completely normal to have these feelings during these times our world faces, however a positive and healthy mindset can be a great defence to these unsettling thoughts and feelings. Here are a few aspects to utilize on a daily basis to stay prepared and well during these uncertain times:
Our entire team at Power Plus hopes you and your families are staying safe and well. If you are interested in any of our remaining Summer Camps visit www.powerplushockeyskating.com to register TODAY as there are limited spots available for our August Camps. Stay safe, stay well, and we hope to see you all soon!
As the great John Wooden famously quoted “Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” Now that the world is re-opening its doors and we are starting to come out of a time of challenge and adversity it is an excellent time to start fresh. As an athlete we may have missed games, workouts, playoffs and some of the most exciting times of the year, but think of the positive that came out of that…….a recharge for your love of the game.
In the current generation there has never been another time period where our favourite sports and activities were forced to such an elongated absence and an abrupt halt. Now is an excellent time to reflect on why you love the game of hockey and what makes you excited to return. As your time on the ice approaches take a moment each day to write down or journal an aspect you love about the game of hockey (i.e. getting to see your friends again, exercising, working on your skills).
Returning to the game of hockey is extremely exciting and we couldn’t be happier for our athletes, however getting your body and mind back into hockey shape is of the utmost importance. When returning to the game take it at a gradual pace, your body needs time to adjust and activities such as stretching, warm up, rest, and nutrition are critical. Don’t be discouraged if it takes longer than normal to “knock off the rust”, setbacks are to be expected, enjoy the process of getting back to the arena and having an opportunity to enjoy the game of hockey again.
Our entire team at Power Plus Hockey Skating wishes everyone the best in their return to hockey and hope to see you at our camps this summer. For information on camps for Summer 2020 visit www.powerplushockeyskating.com. Stay safe and take care!
Uncertainty is uncomfortable for everyone. As athletes we are concerned about our future, not sure when we are able to be back on the ice. It is easy for us to become easily distracted and unproductive. The question is how can we keep athletes focused while also helping cope with feelings of change and uncertainty?
1. Acknowledge the uncertainty- our intention as parents and coaches is to keep athletes focused but we need to acknowledge the feelings of concern they may be feeling. Acknowledge that things seem unpredictable at the moment. Don’t get caught in a negative spiral. Move on to talk about how one may overcome these feelings of concern.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others- you may be looking around wondering how other athletes are keeping it together while you’re unable to be productive. Encouragement from parents and coaches is key. Remember things aren’t always, as they seem. If you are having a hard time getting motivated chances are others are as well. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Once step at a time and stay positive.
3. Focus on what you can control- during uncertain times one thing for certain is you are in control of you. Setting goals and taking the steps towards achieving those goals will help you feel more determined and motivated. Have goals that are attainable and try to do something everyday that is going to get you one step closer towards your goals.
Challenge yourself during these uncertain times. Try a new sport. Work harder off the ice. When you challenge yourself and find your focus you just may be surprised what you can achieve.
We can’t wait to be back on the ice with you all when its safe to start training. In the meantime give yourself some grace and don’t forget to work hard, we will all be on the ice before we know it!!
I hope that during these unprecedented times you are taking the moments to enjoy your family and the extra time you get to spend with them. Although this time can be seen as extremely challenging I want our athletes to look at the positives and do everything they can to make the best out of a unique situation.
An aspect that is critically important that you can take control of is your positive energy, your overall mindset, and in turn your mental health. Take this opportunity with the extra time you have to write down three positive aspects in your life everyday. This exercise will not only show you the areas of your life to be grateful for, it will also exercise your mind to inject positive thinking in an otherwise negative time period. An additional activity you can take part in is controlling the information that you take in everyday. With the current situation there is an excess of negativity driven information and it is important to ensure that you are feeding your brain a healthy dose of positive ideas. How you can practically put this into action is to complete activities such as reading a new book, challenging yourself with a new skill, listening to a podcast and ensuring to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. If you focus your energy into these positive areas there is a great opportunity for you to learn and come out of this situation even stronger than before.
While we all would like to be exercising with our friends, or watching playoff hockey it is important we focus on the aspects of life we can control. As athletes, mental preparation and having a positive mindset are so important both on and off the ice. Challenge yourself to complete these exercises and it will in turn benefit yourself and the people in your life. Stay positive, stay healthy and stay safe everyone.
The sacrifices you have made during this crisis of COVID-19 do not go unnoticed by your coaches, teammates and parents. It truly is a disappointment for all involved to end your seasons prematurely, and not have the opportunity to compete in playoffs or provincials.
Acknowledge that these sacrifices are significant, the situation is out of your control, you trained extremely hard, and you were prepared for big games.
We all need to take a moment to draw on crucial lessons we have learned through sports: to have a positive growth mindset and become leaders on and off the ice.
During the course of the season athletes are asked to come together, work as a team, support one another, and be positive leaders. We are now being asked through these extraordinary times to come together and support one another as a community, a province, and a country.
As coaches and parents I believe its crucial to acknowledge that athletes will be disappointed, as they should be, they have worked extremely hard to get to the critical “finish line” of their season. It is our job to help these athletes understand that it’s not fair, along with assisting them to shift their focus on what they can control.
In sports we are taught to overcome whatever obstacles are thrown our way, and I believe this is a good teaching opportunity to emphasize that we want to be athletes for life, along with responsible individuals who care for their community.
While we are in this crisis lets focus on what we can control as athletes, such as:
I am a strong believer that sports are a way to develop better athletes, but more importantly better people through character development. During this uncertain time, you are not alone, we are thinking of you. Know that when you are not hanging out with your friends and teammates right now, you should be proud of yourself. You are helping fight the battle as a bigger part of a team.
Take Care and reach out if you need support in any way,
Have you ever noticed that when somebody doesn’t play up to potential, the player’s parents, and often the player him/herself, often chalk it up to mental causes? You’ll hear things like, “he didn’t focus,” or “I just psyched myself out,” or “she just can’t handle the stress of competition,” or “I couldn’t get motivated.”
Although it’s true that some games are lost by pure physical shortcomings, much of the time the mistakes are mental. And yet, what do we do? Go back to the ice and focus on more physical skills—as if another drill in getting to the line faster, or working on our passing, will fix it.
There seems to be an underlying expectation that if the physical skills are up to par, the player will have the confidence and mental toughness to deliver when it counts. Yet we’ve all seen too many talented athletes who didn’t deliver when it counted, to believe that this is true.
So what role do mental skills really play in the success and enjoyment of the game? And how do we help players to develop these skills in age-appropriate and level-appropriate ways, keeping the player’s overall well-being as our goal?
What Are Mental Skills, Anyway?
Mental skills are procedures that help athletes to control their minds consistently as they go through their sport. Mental skills include things like:
Age-Appropriate Mental Skills Training
It’s never too early to start building mental skills. The crucial thing is to build them in age-appropriate ways.
Sports psychologists stress that, although elite teams of older players should focus their mental training on hard work, team play, and playing to win, the coaching and parental emphasis for youngsters should be quite different. With youngsters, parents and coaches should concentrate on building the player’s interest in the game, and on teaching skills and values that will make the youngsters better hockey players and better people. With younger kids, the focus should be on having fun and learning the broad positive values that sport can teach—things like fair play, self-confidence, and the satisfaction of improving skills. As Bobby Orr put it:
“ We’ve got to let our kids go, have fun, and not overstructure them. The values we can teach them while they’re having fun they can use for whatever career they choose.”
(Bobby Orr, as quoted in Hockey Tough: A Winning Mental Game)
Only as players reach older, more elite levels, should the focus shift to the competitive aspects of the game.
How Do We Train Mental Skills?
The simplest principle for mental success at any age or skill levels is: focus on the positive.
With young children, this means encouraging them to think about the good things—the fun they had in the game, the things they did well. Dwell on the positive. Boost confidence and enjoyment. Minimize criticism. Later, as players mature, criticism becomes more necessary, and the player’s mental training can include ways to spin constructive criticism into fuel for improvement and increased confidence. But with children, minimize criticism and focus on what the child did well.
Positive self-expectations are a crucial key to success. One technique that coaches can use with players at any level is to set aside a few minutes before a practice or game to have the players sit silently and think about the good things they’re going to do on the ice that day. With youngsters, the coach might ask them to think of two things they are going to do well. With older players, the coach might ask the players to think of, and visualize, six things.
Players don’t need to share their thoughts. The important thing is for the coach to demonstrate the importance of positive self-talk by regularly scheduling time and having the players practice it. A similar exercise can be done after a practice or game, with players asked to focus on the things they did well, and to allow themselves a feeling of achievement. The key is to focus on positives, not negatives.
Players can develop their own methods of self-talk. For example, when you’re taping your stick, every time you swipe the tape around, say something positive. Swipe the tape and say, “I will make tape-to-tape passes today,” swipe the tape again and say, “I’m a great player, I can do this.”
Each player needs to find the positive strategies that will work for them. Try a technique one day and not the next, and see if it makes a difference for you. The key is to always use positive images. (“I will…” and “I am…,” instead of “I won’t…” or “I will not….” Always focus on the good things you WILL do.)
What about Mistakes?
The key to handling mistakes is to acknowledge them, learn from them, and move on. Spin the negative into a positive. Instead of saying, “I didn’t get to the puck fast enough,” say, “I will get to the puck faster next time.”
When you turn a mistake into a positive goal, you set yourself up for success. Everyone makes mistakes. The athletes who win aren’t the ones who are perfect; they’re the ones who can recover quickly from mistakes. So if you’re having an off day, just keep focused on your positive goals and images.
The key to dealing with mistakes is to recognize them, learn from them, then let them go by spinning the learnings into a positive focus. Parents can help their children immensely by helping them learn this simple technique and encouraging them to make a habit of it. The benefits will be life-long.
What about LOSING?
Argh! Losing!!! Players can get so caught up in losing that they just keep replaying all the mistakes they made. Sometimes players will come up to me and say, “I did this wrong, and I did this, and the coach yelled at me….” Well, dwelling on it isn’t going to help you for your next game.
The best thing that coaches and parents can do after a loss is to help the athlete understand that hanging on to the loss and the mistakes isn’t helping them. Players need to acknowledge the mistakes, spin the learnings into a positive goal, and move on.
What about winning? Just as you let go of a loss and focus on the positive, it’s important not to get too caught up on a win. Congratulate yourself (“Great job, you did all these things really well…,” and so on), but remember that it’s one game in a 30-game schedule. So enjoy it, then refocus on how you’re going to do great in the next game. That’s one thing about hockey—whether you win or lose, there’s always another game.
The conclusion is pretty clear: better mental skills = better hockey. And the great thing about learning mental skills is that once you learn a skill, you can continue to use it for success in your daily life.
For anyone who wants to learn more, here are some great resources:
Hockey Tough: A Winning Mental Game -Saul L. Miller
In Pursuit of Excellence: How to Win in Sport and Life through Mental Training -Terry Orlick
***Good Luck to ALL players finishing out their regular season and as they start their playoff series. Just remember.. you have put the hard work in all season NOW is the time to have confidence in your abilities and let yourself shine! We believe in YOU!
The holiday season has come and gone and it is now time to kick start the second half of your season with a PURPOSE. Most of us take time over the holidays to indulge with family, food, and rest, all of which are important to enjoy. Now that most athletes have taken the time to relax it is time to hit the road on the second half of the season running. Utilize the second half of the season as a fresh start and an opportunity to finish strong and feeling great about your hockey season. There are a couple areas that I would recommend athletes focus their energy heading into this critical time of year: reflection and re-energizing.
Now that a large portion of the season has passed take this time to reflect on how things have gone, not just individually but team wise as well. Ask yourself the following questions:
Now that you have had time to reflect and have goals in mind, put a charge into your mindset, habits, and overall outlook on your season. Although it is challenging to be positive every skate, workout, game, and team activity, focused energy on a positive and an encouraged outlook will start the process of improving your mindset and make coming to the rink that much more enjoyable. To kick each week off in the right direction every Monday write a list of 3 items related to hockey that you are grateful for. For example one could be “I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with my teammates & friends this week at the rink”.
After utilizing the process of honest reflection, setting goals, and re-energizing your mindset you are now fully capable of excelling in the second half of the season. Heading down the stretch into playoffs and provincial tournaments is a great time of year, now go enjoy it and take charge of your New Year!
The season can be a long grind, and this is an important time for you to catch your breath and
reflect on your season as a whole. It’s true that only one team can win the honour of being local,
provincial, or national champions, but that doesn’t mean that other teams and players didn’t have
noteworthy successes worth considering and reflecting on as we transition into the post season.
I encourage all of you to look back on your season from the very beginning and reflect on what
goals you set, which ones were accomplished, and which ones you had difficulty attaining.
Taking the time to review your goals from a realistic end-of-season perspective will help you to
see what your strengths are, and where you can make improvements both on and off the ice.
As we come into the spring post-season or “transition” phase, this self-analysis is critical. Once
you’ve done it, it’s time to take action. First, I recommend taking some time off to rest and let
any injuries heal to the fullest. Once you’ve rested and recovered from any injuries, it’s time to
begin putting in the post-season work that’s critical for any successful player. Post-season is a
critical time for athletes to continue developing the skills they’ve gained during the season, and
ramp up their strength and aerobic abilities. Athletes who skip training in the “transition” period
of the season will find their pre-season phase (the 8-12 weeks prior to the start of the season)
much more arduous and challenging.
This is a great time of the year for hockey players to:
· focus on the areas they want to improve on
· continue to develop their areas of strength
· maintain and increase their physical strength and aerobic abilities
A great way for young athletes to capitalize on this “transition” time is to participate in Power
Plus’s Total Package program. Total Package (Bantam & Midget level) caters to the specific needs of each individual athlete, in both the mental and physical aspects of the game, on and off the ice. Total Package starts on April 25 and runs to the start of August with optional 45/45 conditioning sessions. Power Plus’s specialized team has the expertise to ensure that young athletes maximize their off-season development and make the transition into the intense pre-season as seamlessly as possible.
For more information on Total Package, contact Tanya at 780.933.6814 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a wonderful day!