“Success is a science, if you have the conditions, you get the results” -Oscar Wilde
The start of a hockey season can be one of two things for a hockey player; an exciting opportunity or a very stressful experience. Often it comes down to perspective and being able to manage the distractions that can cause stress reactions. A hockey season by its nature can be stressful. It will have its ups and downs. It will be judged a success or failure on the outcome of wins vs losses for a team, and goals & assists for a player. Due to these expectations, a player can experience fear, uncertainty, assumptions, and high expectations to perform at their best. As a hockey player, being able to be present in the moment and make conscious, confident choices are essential to performing at their best, game in, game out.
Let’s take a look at the following equation, which explains and defines what performance is and what detracts from it.
Performance = Potential – Interference (stress reactions)
Performance is how well we do based on the quality of the results of our actions in the moment. Potential is being in a mindful state of being; choosing to be the present on purpose without judgement or labels. In this state of being, access to all the skills and talents you currently have is possible. In addition, you can connect to creativity and intuition, two essentials attributes to being in the hockey zone and experiencing flow. Interference comes in the form of stress reactions. There is no stress, only stressful thinking. When you are under stress reaction, you will create what we call horizontal thinking (past or future). This type of thinking will distract you and take you out of the present moment (in part or fully). This will negatively affect how you perform.
Effective self-inquiry is an essential skill required by any hockey player striving to consistently play at their best and develop to their highest potential.
The following are some self inquiry questions that will help a player identify any area(s) where they may be experiencing stress reactions that may affect performance on or off the ice:
- Spiritual – Do I still love the game of hockey and all that comes with it? Am I playing because I want to or because I feel I must? Am I playing with a me or an us mentality?
- Mental – Am I feeling overwhelmed? What am I focusing on? Is this helping or hindering my performance?
- Emotional – What are the stories I am telling myself of what is happening? Am I creating unnecessary stress for myself?
- Social – Who am I hanging out with? Do they help me play at my best? How am I dealing with negative people in my life?
- Physical – Are there any physical reasons that may be getting in the way of me being at my best? Am I getting enough rest, eating well, etc.?
- Environmental – Is the environment on or off the ice creating stressful thoughts for me? What is the source?
By first asking these questions, young hockey players become more in tune with their thoughts and emotions. And only after asking these questions can we begin to find answers. Next week I’ll publish a second part to this topic: 6 approaches hockey players can take to defeat stress.
Photo credit: Chris Mast and the Everett Silvertips