It’s that feeling you get before the game. Sometimes, it even happens during the game. You do your best to shake it off, take your mind off it, and psych yourself up…whatever it takes to not dwell on it. But, it’s there. It’s the one four-letter word you actually don’t like using or thinking about: Fear.
Hockey players all encounter fear at one point or another. It’s natural to experience it at some point or another. Yet, they know as well as any other player does, what fear costs them: being in the “zone” and having great flowing performances. So how can a hockey player overcome fear?
- Be Aware. Understand the origins of fear. Fear comes dwelling in the past or future: you start to think “what-if I mess-up and can’t score again?” or what “If I get hit and get knocked out of the game, again!” The first step is to know that fear does not exist when we are fully engaged in the present moment, as it requires horizontal thinking (past or future) to affect us. So, be aware of yourself and your thought world. In the present moment there are no fears, only situations. We can always handle situations. Sometimes better than others, but we can handle them.
- Be Accepting. Fighting fear takes a lot of energy. And often, fighting it doesn’t make it go away, because what we resist(focus on), usually persists. So, “Fear does not exist when we are fully engaged in the present moment…Fear comes from horizontal thinking (past or the future)”
“Fear does not exist when we are fully engaged in the present moment…Fear comes from horizontal thinking (past or the future)”
- Be at Choice. Most players, if asked, would say they make their own choices. However, the reality is, that most often they act in accordance with their programming – you know, behavior that has been shaped by their past life experiences, beliefs and core values. They all have, on some level, formed habitual patterns and behaviors rooted in FEAR, not an actual conscious choice (that which serves our sense of purpose in the moment). And when you act on fear, you limit your ability to engage your full energy in the moment. Always know that you have a choice at any given moment. You may not like the consequences of some of your choices, but never the less, you do have a choice.
- Be Trusting. There is an inverse relationship between fear and trust. As trust goes up, fear goes down; and vis-a-versa. So, when you start to experience fear, you can bet that you have begun to lose trust. But trust in what, you ask? Trust your coaches, teammates, trust in yourself, trust the process, and, if you are so inclined, in a higher power such as God. When you can overcome your fear with trust you will engage your energy in the present moment and begin to experience what will all want: fearless, effortless powerful performances.
- Be Authentic. Ever feel like there is move or technique that really suited you and you immediately fell in love with it? Ever learn a move or technique that was completely awkward for you? It would make sense if you answered yes to both questions. That’s because we are all unique and no move or technique will work for everyone. So, let us ask you now: have you ever felt like you had to be someone or something you weren’t in order to be successful in hockey? At some level, we all experience fear in regards to being our true selves. It takes energy to be someone or something that we are not. That is a waste of energy, which we could put into the present moment. Simply be yourself and don’t worry what other people think. That is their judgment or opinion, not necessarily the truth. This does not mean you can’t be audible ready in the event that you may be asked to play a different role to help the team succeed. It just means that trying to imitate someone else, or play outside your strengths can lead to poor performances that in the end will not serve you. When you can be the best version of you in whatever moment you are in, you will experience the true feeling of success!
-Walter Aguilar & Chris Morgan