Competitive and professional hockey players have a multitude of challenges that can create stress reactions and fear in their lives. The following are just some the issues athletes will experience throughout their careers:
- Injuries/playing hurt
- Performance expectations
- Performance slumps
- Money/contract issues
- Sport/personal relationship issues
- Politics of sports
- Transitioning out of their hockey career
-Mindfulness – Choosing to be in the present experience on purpose, as if our life depended on it, non-judgementally.-Jon Kabat-Zinn
The following are eight benefits athletes can expect from practising mindfulness in hockey & life:
- Self -Awareness– Knowing how they show up in their game and lives. This helps them choose new behaviours and make conscious choices of how they want the moment to unfold.
- Acceptance– Learning to accept what they can and cannot control. By focusing their mind energy on what they can control, they will create positive outcomes.
- Lowered Fear & Anxiety– Horizontal thinking (past or future) is a major cause of fear and anxiety. Calmer and confident athletes make wiser decisions and play better.
- Better approach to handling anger & resentment – Understanding why they are angry and then they can learn to manage their emotions in a more constructive way in dealing with in the game & life’s challenges.
- Boosts creativity & intuition – Better emotional management allows athletes to tap into their highest creativity and intuition. Helps them get into the “zone” more consistently and experience flow.
- Enjoyment of the game returns – They enjoy the experience of playing the game again and can overcome outcome performance based stress. When enjoyment of the process returns, positive outcomes are sure to follow.
- Improved relationships – Whether it is with coaches, teammates, authority figures or their personal relationships, being mindful improves these relationships in the moment.
- Lowered risk of depression or relapse – They learn to be aware of the story teller in their minds. Then, by taking responsibility for the story and re-framing it, helps curb depression and/or relapse.
Mindfulness is a state of being. It is also a choice. How a player handles themselves off the ice, also affects how they show up on the ice (and vice versa). Choosing to practice mindfulness allows a player to tap into their potential more consistently. Then, they will not just be playing the game but experience the joy of being the game.
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