An amazing hockey performance is less about thinking and more about being. It is about being mindful in the moment, 100% energetically engaged to the now, tapping into their deepest intuition and highest level of creativity. This will allow a hockey player to show up with their best performance, when the game is on the line.
-Walter Aguilar –
Mindfulness has been described as being in the present experience on purpose, without judgement. Hockey players today are stronger, faster, and smarter than they have ever been. However, the percentage of players that ever make to the professional level still remains very low. Strength & conditioning, nutrition, and skills training have all evolved to an incredible level. Sport psychology has also made great strides in regards to the mental aspects in hockey. However, I believe mindfulness state in hockey is the last untapped frontier. It is the “next big thing sports performance training.” Let’s define mindfulness.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn , “mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally.”
When players discuss the “zone” experience, they talk about the game slowing down and knowing intuitively, just what to do. Creativity is not forced and their performance feels effortless. What they are describing is being 100% in the present moment and having access to intuition and creativity of the highest order. It is not about doing but rather about being. Being present. Out of this state of being, conscious, fully engaged energy creates the action needed to excel in any given moment. It is less about thinking the game and more about being the game. However, consistently being able to get to this “zone” eludes the majority of hockey players. Why? Often, it is due to unmanaged stress reaction. In any given moment there is stress, however, it is when the player internalises it that it becomes distress.
The story (in their minds) hockey players tell themselves about a particular game or play creates the emotion. This emotion affects the athletes’ bodies. There are advantages and disadvantages to our emotions. They can be short term energy drivers or present moment detractors. The moment their thoughts create time (past & future thinking) energy goes to those thoughts. This energy is taken out of 100% needed to be present. The athlete then has less energy to use in the present moment. Long term, being in negative emotions can be detrimental to a hockey player’s performance and physical health. The following is an equation that sums up performance:
Performance = Potential – Interference (stress reactions)
An excellent performance has less to do with thinking and more about having engaged energy, intuition and creativity. However, there are six areas in which stress can become distress in the athlete. These six areas are:
Any of the above six energy stressors can create a stress reaction in the athlete. This reaction will inevitably cause an energy drop. These energy decreases will lower the following areas:
This is why being consistently in the “zone” and performing at peak level can be difficult. However, learning to practice mindfulness in hockey, using the COR.E Performance Dynamics 7 levels of energy can help any hockey player establish a formula for success. In today’s outcome performance based hockey industry, having an edge to consistently perform at their best, gives hockey players an opportunity to pursue their dreams at the highest level. Mindfulness is the new edge that can help aspiring hockey players separate themselves from the pack.
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