Hockey players must learn many physical skills to be any good, and we train hard at practice so that we can apply them effectively during the games. But a skilled player still needs a clear head to guide him or he will likely just be spinning his wheels. This implies that players must devote time to mental training as well or all the hard physical work may be for nought. Consider the following four key elements of mental preparedness in your training: positive self-talk, pre-game imagery, pre-game focus and goal setting. Use these elements to prepare for practice as well as games; as with any skill, we must repeat it many times in order to master it.
1. Positive self-talk: Use your inner voice to inspire yourself; be confident and focus on what you and your team can do, recall positive and successful past events; be determined to do your best and rise to the challenge.
2. Pre-game imagery: “See” yourself doing things well; “see” your team connecting on plays; “replay” in your mind successful past events.
3. Pre-game focus: commit yourself to the “game”--be in the present only; commit positive energy to the team and game (leave problems at home); warm up and play as if nothing else exists.
4. Goal setting: do you have a performance goal? where do you want to go with hockey and are you working towards a goal? have you set goals for skill improvement?
Of course, mental preparedness requires practice too, and applies to a lot more than hockey. Putting mental and physical preparedness together adds up to the total effort that can bring us success in the challenges we face. Remember that the effort to do the best we are capable of doing is what really counts, and gives us peace of mind.
“As long as you try your best, you are never a failure, unless you blame others.” John Wooden
If a formula for success truly exists, Prof. Tom Morris from Notre Dame has articulated a pretty convincing one. He formulated his 7 Cs of Success after years of studying the thoughts, writings, habits and methods of some of the world’s most successful people dating back to ancient times. According to Prof. Morris, for true success, we all need:
(1) A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
(2) A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain our goal.
(3) A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach that goal.
(4) A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision.
(5) An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we're doing.
(6) A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course.
(7) A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.
Try incorporating these thought patterns into your efforts to stay mentally prepared.