Hockey is not only demanding physically, but also mentally. The mental area of hockey is often ignored, it can make the difference between a good player, and a great one.
Here is a list of mental characteristics associated with excellence and top performance. Apply them and you will greatly accelerate your development and performance level as a player.To be in top mental health, remember to eat as many nutritious foods as you can and try getting good quality sleep every night. You will not be in good mental health by eating a poor diet and getting little sleep.
Setting goals will give you a sense of direction and purpose in what you are trying to attain. Are you trying to make the provincial team, get a hockey scholarship, develop a better shot? Once you have established your goals, work and focus your energy on trying to attain them. Make sure your goals are realistic and remember to not be to hard on yourself if you don ’t attain them right away.
Mental Rehearsal (visualization)
Visualization is the ability to create a mental model of an event or situation. It is a natural common behaviour and can greatly help you achieve your goals and perform better as a player. For example, if you are trying to develop a stronger slap shot and are having trouble, try visualizing yourself executing a good one. By mentally rehearsing yourself achieving what you are striving for, you will increase your chances into developing the desired skill a lot faster. Visualization will also make you perform a lot better in pressure situations.
To perform at your best, you must be able to relax, especially when your body becomes stressed. To increase your relaxation response, try meditation or deep breathing (deep breath from your abdomen). For simple meditation, find a comfortable quiet area in your house (your room, living room), and try focusing on your breath while letting your thoughts come and go. The key is to become in a very relaxed state without trying to control thoughts. Let go and try relaxing as much as you can. Don ’t get discourage if you have trouble attaining relaxation. Meditation takes time to develop. As you become better at it, increase your meditation sessions. You may also want to use relaxation music to help get you in the zone. You may also want to try yoga, tai chi, or other forms of relaxation exercises.
Concentration and Focus
Concentration can be defined as the ability to focus your attention on a selected target or purpose. In hockey, being able to concentrate if essential to becoming a great player. An example of concentration in hockey would be trying to find an area to shoot at to score a goal, or it might be looking for a teammate to pass while being scanned by opposing players. The key is to be able to concentrate on a desired area, without letting other distractions get to you. Improving concentration can be achieved by working on being able to zone your focus on the task at hand. Another trick to increase concentration is to not to overthink or let distractions get to you. During games, focus one shift at a time. Try to refocus your energy when you get distracted and frustrated during a game because you missed a scoring chance, or during a questionable call by an official.
Positive mental attitude and belief
Believing in yourself and being positive can be developed and trained over time. By continually giving yourself positive feedback, you will greatly increase self-confidence and self-esteem. Try replacing negative self-talk patterns by more positive ones (For example, instead of saying "I couldn’t score a goal on this goaltender if my life depended on it" say "I will find a way to score". Try using positive confident goal oriented statements such as "I will, I can, I am going to". Also, when visualizing, try seeing yourself performing the way you want to (confident, energized, and fully focused).