You’re either still in the playoff race or you’re one and done. Regardless, if you don’t know how to recover from the rigorous energy spent, you’ll quickly find yourself exhausted when you least expect it. And that can have a major impact on your performance level, let alone affect your entire team’s performance and ultimately be done for the season.
There’s a fine line between balancing nutrition and training to maintain fitness levels and endure the energy needed to push through what could be a long haul throughout the playoff season. Not only that, but if you don’t know how to get ready for off-season spring camps and be ready to perform at your best, you’ll have a hard time keeping up with the rest of the competition.
You need to plan ahead and be prepared with the proper nutrition and rest, so you can perform at your best every single time. Far too often I see players who simply don’t plan properly. They know what to do, they just don’t do it. And when things don’t turn out the way they hoped, they make excuses.
As a speaker and presenter on High Performance Training and Nutrition for BC Hockey’s elite prospects I am hard on what it takes to prepare for intense competition. I am a big believer in doing what’s right for the player and helping set them up on a proper road for success. But if players don’t do what they need to do in order to compete at a high level, they will quickly find out what it feels like to get sent home.
Here are my 5 tips for what it takes to push through the playoffs and get prepared for spring camps that can help you perform at your very best every single shift. These are not things you might expect, so read carefully and share with your player(s) because it’s more than just sets and reps in the gym or eating proper nutrition. Those things are important, but if players don’t learn what it really takes they’ll be quickly disappointed knowing that they simply were not prepared.
1. Believe in your potential, always do your best, and never give up. These are the three things that have helped me succeed and it’s what I teach my athletes all the time. Confidence is everything, and if you don’t have confidence you have nothing. It doesn’t matter how skilled you think you are, or if you have motivation, will power, passion and desire….. so does your opponent. But a lack in confidence can and will kill your performance. When you believe in your potential, always do the best, and never ever give up…..you will find the confidence to do things you never thought were possible. What does this have to do with hockey and preparing for competition? Well, when parents or coaches see a player not making an effort late in the third period when it counts the most, they often assume the player needs more cardio. More cardio? They’ve been in shape all year and now all of a sudden they think that player has just lost cardio? It’s likely because they are down on themselves, don’t know how to perceiver through adversity, and have lost their confidence to compete at a higher level when it’s expected of them. I see it happen all time, where players simply can’t cope in high pressure situations and just give up because they don’t believe in their potential. You must eliminate any self-doubt and not make excuses for things you have 100% control over. Don’t blame others for your own mistakes. Hold yourself accountable by accepting your mistakes as a means to getting better.
2. Set Goals – You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re at. You have set goals and I mean specific goals, right down to the day, time, and activity. Setting your goals is the only way to measure your progress and know you’re getting results and achieving the things you set out to. It is also an incredible way to increase your motivation to continue striving towards the outcome. But at the end of the day, if you really want something bad enough you will do it no matter what. And if you don’t want something bad enough you will find an excuse or reason not to put in the work it takes to fulfill your dreams. Remember, dreams are nothing more than wishes if you don’t take action.
3. Take Action -Once you have your goals set in stone you need to take action. And when you do, that’s when you’ll begin to realize your potential to achieve success. It’s about doing the little things when no one is looking that will propel you further toward your goals. Sticking to the plan, that’s what will increase your confidence and strengthen your belief in knowing that you are doing the best. This is the time where excuses and self-doubt have no place in serving your purpose. These things will only hold you back from achieving your ultimate plan. So get going, take action and watch the results you’ll get.
4. Achieve Results – The only way to know you’re getting better is to measure your progress. After all, are you satisfied just assuming you’ve gotten better over time? I recently asked my 12 year old nephew how he felt he did this year in hockey, and he just said, “ok I guess”. Then I asked what he felt he improved on and needed to do better for next year and he replied, “I don’t know.” You need to know where you stand and how you measure up. You need to have a base line of performance in order to know how to even set specific goals and figure out a plan to achieve those goals. It all starts with a performance assessment and setting some guidelines. If not, then you are just guessing, and there’s no way you’ll know if you’re getting better. Once you’ve set a base line for testing your performance level, only then will you truly know you’re on the right track by re-testing. And when you start seeing a difference, your confidence level will go up and you’ll start to achieve greater things based on seeing results.
5. Declare Certainty – I can’t begin to tell you how many times parents have come to me asking how I have managed to increase their player’s confidence. The answer is quite simple. I challenge my players to believe in themselves to achieve things they might not think they can do on their own. I show them I believe in them when they don’t believe in themselves. And when they do achieve those things that I believed they could, their confidence goes through the roof. When an athlete can tangibly see success and an improvement from measuring results, they’re entire performance level increases. Then they start to become more certain and claim that they truly believe in their potential, knowing they’ve done their absolute best to be the best they can possibly be. Anything else is simply out of your control. Regardless of the outcome of your experiences, if you know you’ve left nothing on the table, keep trying and NEVER GIVE UP.
Key points to walk away with to help you prepare for competition and manage physical and mental recovery from the rigorous demands placed on you as an athlete:
- Choose confidence; confidence is a choice you make when you face your fears head on.
- Set goals; plan your workouts, plan your nutrition, plan every single detail down to the minute.
- Take action; document everything you do so you can measure your performance.
- Do the right things; often players know what they need to do, they just don’t do. Get your sleep, eat properly, train, and practice every day. There’s no secret, just do it.
BY: MIKE PICKLES, D.FHP
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