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!
It seems like summer goes by too fast. Some players, looking back, feel that way about their hockey years too. They wish they’d squeezed more out of every season.
The secret to getting the most out of your upcoming season is preparation. By now, if you’ve been following the recommended training cycle, you’ve given your body and mind a few weeks of post-season downtime to recover. Now it’s time to start thinking about preparation and goals for the upcoming season.
First, you need a strategy for your pre-season preparations. Decide what it will take to get ready, then plan out a realistic timeline for completing the preparations. In planning your strategy, consider three main components: on-ice prep, off-ice prep, and mental preparation.
For each component, think about where you are, then decide where you want to be on day one of the season. These are the two end points on your preparation curve. Now break the work down into time periods, so you know exactly what you have to do, and when, so you'll be primed and ready when camps and tryouts start.
Now look at your schedule and decide how much time you can allocate to on-ice, off-ice, and
mental preparation. For many players, off-ice and mental preparation can be done individually or with teammates or friends. For on-ice training, it’s critical to have the proper instruction to get you ready to hit camp at your highest level.
A great way to get ready for the season is to take advantage of both Progressive Power Skating and 45/45 sessions that Power Plus is offering in July and August. The July sessions are designed to allow players to develop their technique and grow skating confidence. The August sessions include 45 minutes of high intensity power skating and conditioning, along with 45 minutes of elite skill-based puck drills to get athletes ready for the season. The 45/45 sessions are specially designed to maximize each player’s skill base and conditioning. They’re a great way to ramp up your preparations so you hit the season in full stride. For younger players, proper technique is especially critical. It's the foundation for years of enjoyment to come!
Contact Tanya today at (780) 933-6814 or email@example.com to book your spot. Limited spots available.
There’s a reason that the NHL doesn’t play all summer long. This is true for all leagues and players alike, regardless of ability. When the season is over, it’s time to get away from the rink for a while. Which is not to say that you want to turn into a couch potato over the summer! What seems to work best is to divide the summer into two stages: active rest, followed by conditioning & skills work. The first stage, “active rest”, involves doing enjoyable, low-to-moderate intensity activity three times per week. Active regeneration activities like swimming, cycling, volleyball, hiking, Frisbee, and similar kinds of activities are recommended.
The focus should be on play, cooperation, and fun. The goal is to keep lightly active while your body and mind rest and recover from the stresses of the season.
SUMMER ACTIVITIES: VARIETY IS GOOD!
After your period of active rest, it's time to get going again. The secret is to get involved in a wide variety of activities. In hockey, we tend to use certain muscle groups more than others. Over time, this can cause an imbalance that actually limits the player’s potential. Branching out into other activities during the summer can help rebalance a player’s body and benefit the player in the long run. Another reason to do a lot of non-hockey activities over the summer is to provide a different training stimulus. That’s why expert trainers will change the athlete’s weight workout periodically; they know that a new training stimulus is needed to keep the athlete’s development going.
So even if you’re doing a summer hockey camp like Total Package, summer is the time to go out and have fun with some cross-training. Sports that involve foot speed and have an aerobic element, like basketball and soccer, are ideal. In fact, you’ll get benefits from any sport that involves one or more of:
· cardiovascular challenge
· quick movements and changes of direction
Another thing to look at over the summer is hockey-specific conditioning and skills training. This doesn't mean game play! This means something like a power skating camp, where the major focus is on conditioning and skills, with maybe a scrimmage or two thrown in. This kind of skills work helps to fine tune the player's biomechanics for the upcoming season.
A CHANGE WILL BENEFIT YOUR MIND, TOO
It isn’t just your body that needs a change. Your mind needs a change too. After grinding out a tough winter schedule, you might not be as keen to get to the rink as you were at the start of the year. Spending the summer away from game play can help bring back that intensity. Do other activities, work on skills, stay fit. Then when fall rolls around, you’ll be keen to get back to the games.
To summarize, your summer should involve a variety of activities, with an emphasis on
fun, conditioning, and skills. Enjoy!
As we move into the summer off season many athletes and parents wonder what the best off-season formula is for success in the following season. A recent phenomenon that is occurring is athletes wanting to “specialize, specialize, specialize”. I am a strong believer that it is important for athletes to develop skills specific to their sport to achieve their goals, however I also believe in the benefits of young athletes participating in multiple sports.
Recent research outlines the many benefits of young athletes participating in multiple sports. A few of the benefits of multi-sport participation as indicated by Smith (2016) are outlined below:
1. Fewer overuse injuries – Studies have shown that multi-sport participation leads to better muscle, motor, and skill development. There are many cases present where young athletes are experiencing “grown up sport injuries” such as ACL injuries for example.
2. Less emotional burnout – Kids who are too focused on one sport risk becoming emotionally tired of the sport all together. Extreme focus on one sport can put an exceptional amount of pressure on a young athlete and be detrimental to their success.
3. Exposure to different kids and roles – Allowing children to play multiple sports allows them to interact with different groups of people and experience new roles. Children can interact with an entirely new group of peers and expand their social circle as a whole. Additionally, by being put into different roles it allows athletes to practice flexibility and be exposed to different situations, increasing the ability to be a multi-dimensional and coachable athlete.
It is important for children to experience new roles and become “well rounded” athletes. Multi-sport participation can have major benefits for young hockey players as Active For Life (2014) outlines that “Hockey Canada recommends that players engage in other activities – such as lacrosse, soccer, and even gymnastics – to help them improve in hockey”.
As the weather improves in the upcoming summer months I recommend allowing your young athletes to experiment with other sports. One key to this is that the sport does not necessarily have to be organized. Allowing a young athlete to experiment with a sport in a non-structured environment provides the opportunity for creativity and enjoyment.
Thank you for checking out my blog, as always if you have any questions or would like information on upcoming camps please feel free to contact Tanya @ 780-933-6814 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?
“Leadership is influence - nothing more, nothing less.”
John C. Maxwell
A leader is a person who has a vision, a drive, and a strong commitment to achieve
that vision—and who takes action in support of their vision. The “action” part is vital. Just
having a vision is not enough. Good leaders take steps to achieve their vision and
move forward when faced with difficulties. A great leader does not give up, and
always finds another way to do something in the face of adversity.
WHO CAN BE A LEADER?
“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price
all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
For people who believe that “being a leader” means telling everyone else what to do,
there can be only a couple of leaders on a team. But once you see that leadership is
really about vision, drive, commitment, and taking action, it opens up possibilities for
every team member to be a leader. At the beginning of my hockey career, I truly believed that individuals were born as leaders. Now, based on many experiences, I have shifted my thoughts and believe that effective leaders are made, not born. Anyone can be a leader, regardless of their position. If you have the desire and willpower, you can cultivate effective leadership skills. For really solid team results, it’s important for everyone on the team to remember that the captain and assistant captain are not the only leaders in the group. It is important for you, as a player, to step up and lead your line by showing your vision, drive, and commitment. There could be 10 or 15 leaders in the room, depending on how many players have the desire and commitment to lead. Although every player has the potential to be a leader, it is up to each person to make that choice. Some players may simply not have the motivation, passion, or drive to fulfill a leadership responsibility.
AN EXAMPLE OF LEADERSHIP
A great leader in my life has been Hayley Wickenheiser. I’ve been blessed to be able to
play on a team with an Olympic gold medalist and Captain of the Canadian Women’s
Olympic hockey team, and it has been such a rewarding experience. Hayley has
taught me a lot about leadership—not just on the ice, but off it as well. On the ice, she is
so motivating and everyone follows her by example. She models the behavior she
expects from her team, and does not expect anything from others unless she can do it
herself first. I believe that every good leader is always searching for opportunities to innovate, grow, and improve as an individual. As Head Instructor at Power Plus my goal is to strengthen leadership within Canada’s hockey community by inspiring others to develop their own leadership. If you are in a leadership role in your hockey community, I urge you to commit to developing leadership in yourself and those around you. The more players you have who are committed to leadership, the more they will motivate one another, and the more successful your team will be.
When was the last time you set out to fail? Fell on your face, tried something risky and failed? Have you ever once done something with the sole intention of failing?
My guess is probably not. We are programmed to want to succeed. Yes, we sometimes fail but it is generally not on purpose. We are so used to getting in trouble from our coaches or teammates that we are afraid to fail. We are programmed to avoid failure at all costs, thus we often settle for mediocrity.
To fail harder means to try harder. In life, you are usually not successful without failure. Most athletes try to minimize failure therefore they do not take risks or pull themselves out of their comfort zone to get better. Here at Power Plus, we want you to fail harder. Take at look at this amazing inspirational video and see how Power Plus approaches its philosophy. We want our athletes to try new things, and not be afraid to fail. How can you fail harder?
Fail harder now so you can succeed easier later!
"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan
Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness." - Oprah Winfrey
"Failure is success if we learn from it." - Malcolm S. Forbes
In all the Power Plus sessions this year, by far the most common obstacle to performance that we saw was lack of knee bend. But why is knee bend so important, and how do you get it?
Why Knee Bend Makes a Superior Player
Here’s what a deeper knee bend will do for you: When you bend your knees you get lower to the ice, a lower stance gives you more balance (less likely to fall), and harder to knock off the puck. In order to get power in each stride you need to bend your knees. The more your knees are bent the more power you can get from each push. More knee bend = more power and speed.
Why Most Skaters Don’t Bend Enough
There’s a simple reason that most skaters don’t bend their knees enough: it feels easier not to. Getting a deep knee bend takes strong abdominals and lower back, and strong hip and groin muscles. Skaters with insufficient strength in these muscle groups will feel a sense of weakness in their core when they bend their knees deeply. To get away from that feeling, they subconsciously straighten their knees. Unfortunately, skating with less knee bend may feel easier, but ultimately it reduces your speed, power, and stability. If you want power and speed, you have to build up your strength so that knee bend feels natural.
How to Get Great Knee Bend
Focusing on leg strength alone won’t give you great knee bend. Great knee bend requires strong abdominals, lower back, hip, and groin muscles. To deepen your knee bend, you’ll want to do exercises that target these muscles and teach them to work together effectively. A few possibilities for off-ice exercises are wall sits, lunges and weighted squats for older athletes.