Mental Performance and Nutrition Tip – March 21, 2013
by Rita Wyczynski
The end of the season is fast approaching with the Lower Lakes Championship and the Provincial Championship just around the corner. You have prepared all season for this moment. It is now time to trust your preparation. It means believing that the countless hours you have spent on and off the ice have prepared you for your next on ice challenge.
Preparation entails both the mental and physical side of the game. Irrespective of whether you are in Toronto or in Ottawa, whether you are playing a tournament team favorite or not…it does not matter. You need to arrive physically (rested, fueled, hydrated, warmed up) and mentally (positive and determined) prepared. It is about following your pre game routine and focusing on the game at hand and NOT on the gold medal game that will happen two days later.
Game execution starts when the whistle blows. No “what if questions.” It is all about doing what you need to do, focus on what you can control and block everything else out. Use your mental tools (cue word to help you refocus, positive self talk, breathing, thinking about your strengths, visualizing your best moments) and stick to your game plan. Playing in the moment will get you to your ultimate goal. “What if we don’t win, What if we don’t score first” are the wrong questions to ask. The right question to ask is “what do I/we need to do right now to make things happen.” This puts you into the action mode, “The how”, the execution.
Because you have shifts and floods between periods in hockey you are lucky. It is an opportunity to do a quick debrief on the bench or in the change room with your line mates and with your team (e.g. this worked, let’s do more of this; this did not work, let’s try this). Holding back during a game can be a game changer. Never think, I need to save myself for the next period or the next game because you may not get another opportunity. During the game, hydrate frequently. After the game review what you did well, what you could improve and discuss how you will do this in the future. Make sure that your recovery food is with you in the change room so that you can start the recovery process while the coach is giving the post game talk. Always make time to cool down.
Finally, mistakes happen. Find out the why, learn from them and then LET THEM GO. Learning from every game is the key to becoming a better player and a better team.