As we move forward in the 2019 season and playoffs are on the horizon, we start looking forward to great and memorable playoff performances.
Will I rise up and perform to my potential?
Will it be just the same old thing with similar results?
The sport of hockey is literally defined by moments. It all comes down to one moment on the ice for you to make an impact on the game.
With this reality, I might suggest that if you "own the moment" in the coming playoff season - a little more than you did in the regular season, you can create a performance reality that exceeds your expectations - and bring a different level of joy to your time in the game.
Play in the Moment
There are three potential places your mind could be when you are on the ice. The past, the present or the future. Of these three places, there is only one place where you can absolutely control performance - that is the current moment. And this is exactly where noted psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his best-selling book "Flow" made his mark as a researcher. His research demonstrates that people are happiest and most productive when in a state of flow - when they are totally absorbed in the task at hand, and the challenge of the situation is equal to (or just above) their skill level. This is where you must strive to be when playing the game. The past and future are distractions to performance in the here and now. The past has happened, so dwelling on it is not productive. The future has not happened, so being fearful about what might happen is not productive. In this playoff season, adopt a practice that focuses you in the moment (a simple mindfulness practice is a good start) to help you own the moment on the ice. At every opportunity, pull yourself back into the moment you are playing in.
Fall in love with the process and results will follow
To help you further with "playing in the moment", a focus on your playing process can be a key for you. The key to every plan is not necessarily the ultimate goal or target - but the small steps needed to take you there. These small steps, often focused on a technique or strategy that you have worked on and tested in practice this year, keep your mind on your execution on the and not on outcomes like winning - that you have no control over. In order for you to "own the moment" and stay in the moment, put all of your attention on what's important to play your best in the moment - great positional play, an aggressive, proactive approach, your best effort on each shift or whatever "your" focuses in practice might be. Fall in love with your process and let the outcomes fall where they may.
This is my time - no one else's
It all comes down to you. You are the one who can make a difference in the game - or help teammates to make a difference. You accept feedback and instructions from coaches, but ultimately decide how you will use it. You are responsible for your own enjoyment in the game of hockey and determine who impacts that joy. Will you allow the many distractions in the game to dampen the reasons you play in the first place - because you love it. Owning the moment is about taking responsibility for your playing experience and your performances. Each moment on the ice, whether practicing or playing, is yours - no one else. In this year's playoffs, make a commitment that you are in control and solely responsible for your performance - there will be no excuses or blame.
These are three simple keys to help you own your play in the upcoming playoff season. The opportunity exists for you to create your reality and embrace the beauty of it in the coming playoff season. Each "moment" for you on the ice is an opportunity to shine and express your potential, so embrace each opportunity and own it!
Wishing you some great moments on the ice in the playoff season.