The Demystification of Momentum in Hockey

momentum Walter Aguilar Mindfulness Ice Hockey Coach
Featured Image credit: Chris Mast

“As any athlete knows, momentum is the most unstoppable force in sports. The only way to stop it is if you get in your own way, start making stupid mistakes or stop believing in yourself.”

– Rocco Mediate

When a team has momentum, it means a team has things going in its favour, and it will take a great effort to stop it.

Momentum is the effect, not the cause of success in hockey. It is the result of effective confident actions in the moment. Momentum does not transfer from game to game, however, but confidence can. It can only truly show up in the moment, because the now is all there ever is. After that it becomes game film for reflection and learning. Momentum is gained when a hockey player who is mindful in the present moment taps into his potential (skills, talents, intuition, and creativity) by making a play that raises the energy of his team. This can be any of the following:

  • a goal
  • a nice pass
  • a big hit
  • a big save
  • a selfless blocked shot
  • any effective play that energizes and increases the confidence of their team

High performance in hockey is not just playing the game but being the game and performing at a high level of effectiveness. This has been described as entering a state of being where flow or zone moments happen. This state is connected to a high level of effective execution. These are eight attributes that are found in flow or zone moments:

1.    High Confidence & belief in one’s ability
2.    State of mindfulness & being in the now
3.    A sense of connection to everyone and everything
4.    High creativity
5.    Deep sense of intuition
6.    Minimal horizontal thinking
7.    Acute awareness
8.   Appropriate focus and concentration

Inspire Connect Lead

Since high levels of confidence and belief are paramount to being in the zone, then understanding the two following ways to be summon the emotion of confidence can be helpful:

1.     Reflect and focus on the experiences of past success and look to build on it. This type of confidence helps players and teams either bounce back from tough losses or continue on a winning streak.

2.     Being 100% present and energetically engaged in the now. Trusting the process and the team’s ability to perform under pressure.

Momentum can only be captured and experienced in the moment and is in fact an energy exchange. The equation of Performance = Potential – Interference (stress reactions) is the beginning to understanding momentum. Since we all emit energy whether we are aware of it or not makes no difference. Our thoughts (more specifically our beliefs) transform our energy to either anabolic or catabolic energy. The more anabolic we are the more conscious, aware, engaged, and confident we are.

Anabolic energy is an expanding energy where creativity, intuition, positivity, engagement, connection, and confidence are found. This type of energy is light, flowing, and expanding. Catabolic energy is a contracting energy that’s often the result of being in a stress reaction to what is happening in the present moment. It is driven by horizontal thinking (past or future) where fear, anxiety, anger, negativity, low confidence, tightness, lack of creativity, and blocked intuition happens to a player or team.

When a player or players can be in a state where they are 100% present and engaged in the moment their performance is going to be very effective because they are in their ideal state of being and able to perform at a highly effective level. When we see and feel a momentum shift, it often occurs because an opposing team is experiencing horizontal thinking (past or future) and are dropped into a lower of awareness and confidence, thereby decreasing their level of effectiveness in their performance. When hockey players mismanage their emotions due to stress reactions, it can lead to a shift of momentum due to a poor pass, bad penalty, or just ineffective decision making in the moment. This will cause them to be in catabolic energy and can result in them appearing to be less effective than they can be.

“Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence” – Vince Lombardi

The definition of entrainment is to draw along with or after oneself.

When a hockey player makes a big hit, scores a goal or in general makes a great play, he lifts the confidence of his teammates and his fans. This shift in energy is called entrainment. Entrainment shifts momentum. This shift is so powerful that when you are in an arena you can actually feel the energy transfer occurring. Entrainment can also happen to a team from a home crowd of raving fans who are willing them to victory with their high anabolic, positive energy. That is why home ice advantage is so highly coveted.

When a team of confident, mindful, and engaged hockey players can show up in shift, period, or game, the momentum gained is the result of the mindful state that occurs when players are not just thinking or playing the game but rather being the game. Therefore, a game is never truly over until it is over. Confidence and belief are the cause of momentum. Momentum is the roadway to success in hockey

Walter Aguilar – is a Certified Professional Coach and COR.E Performance Dynamics Specialist. Using the mind/energy connection to performance, he teaches a unique approach to peak performance. He specializes in teaching mindfulness for hockey using the COR.E Performance Dynamics energy leadership system. This is based on the 7 levels of energy that thoughts create. These affect awareness, confidence, engagement, creativity and intuition. His equation of Performance = Potential – Interference, provides a framework for success in hockey and life.