It’s not realistic for players to expect to perform at their peak every game. Ups and downs are part of life and the game. What separates the good from the great is how they make the best of their bad days. The key is to have a master plan and to stick to it. In sports, business and in life, if you fail to plan, plan to fail!
There are four aspects to any sport: the technical, tactical, physical and the mental. An elite hockey player has to develop all aspects of his/her game to develop consistency and confidence.
is an Overlooked Aspect of the Game
Create a training calendar with all of your games, practices and travel days on it. Use your off-ice days to engage in activities that will contribute to and improve your overall performance. You can vary the intensity and duration of these activities, depending on your schedule and energy levels, but make sure you fully commit to the activity. Practice perfection and always finish on a high note – it will contribute to your confidence and confidence is an important currency on the path to success.
you Off-ice Time
Doing a hard strength session in a gym the day before game is an obvious example of a counter-productive activity, as it depletes your physical and mental energy, making it harder to perform at your peak on game day. Strength training is important but it must contribute —not detract— from your goal of peak performance, so timing is very important. Better options would be mobility work or low-intensity skills training like shooting drills.
If your coach pushes you hard in practice and works your hockey muscles to fatigue, your focus should be on rapid recovery, so proper nutrition, yoga, stretching, rolling or getting a massage and lots of sleep are good options. All of these activities have a positive effect on you mood and mental state, and when you feel good, you play well.
Pain, Know Gain
At the elite levels of hockey, more is often less. The schedules are grueling and everyone seems to be tired all of the time. Immune systems are depressed by the lack of sleep, shorter days and the cold of winter. Avoid the “No Pain, No Gain” syndrome and develop the maturity and confidence to “Know Pain” and “Know Gain.” I repeatedly tell my warriors: “you don’t’ cure pain with pain, just like you don’t put out a fire with gasoline!”
The key is to have a training plan and stick to the time commitments. You can change the activity as your schedule or energy levels change, but commit to the time and make the most of it. If you only have 60 percent energy or time, give 100 per cent of that 60 percent to get the most out of that session. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 20-30 minutes of stretching, rolling, studying video footage or shooting practice. Again, finish on a high note!
Every player is different and has different needs. Figure out what works best for you and commit to it. You will feel better and play with increased confidence – and that’s when great things happen.
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