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Six Things That Will Keep a Hockey Player Out of the Sports “Zone”!

In Leadership by Walter Aguilar

“Ninety-percent of hockey is mental, and the other half is physical” –Wayne Gretzky

The “Zone” – A conscious state of doing characterized by the experience of flow, in the moment.

Playing in the “zone” is when a hockey player can achieves their most success. Often, we talk about mindfulness as being the state that players should strive to be in. The reality is that hockey, is more about “mindlessness” and learning how to be the game. This entails being present and not overthinking their game. From that mindful state of being, access into a state of conscious doing called the “zone” is possible. Characteristics of when hockey player is in the “zone” are as follows:

  • They tap into their highest potential, effortlessly.
  • Experience acute awareness and a sense of connection to the game.
  • Highest level of intuition, creativity and level of engagement
  • Experience an altered sense of time – games can seem to slow down.
  • Less about thinking the game more about being the game.
  • No fear or doubt as they are 100% in the moment.
  • They can experience, create and observe anything they desire, as quickly as they believe possible.

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Mindfulness – Being in the present moment on purpose, without judgement – A state of being

Often, when players will find themselves in slumps, unsatisfied with their performances, or are losing their love for the game of hockey, they become perplexed. As high as the feeling of being in the zone can be, not being there can be very frustrating. The inability to manage their thought world, can create stress reactions which are often at the root of poor performances. The following are the six things that will keep a hockey player from experiencing mindfulness and “zone” moments more often are:

  • Perceived rejection – Taking things personal. Thinking thoughts for others, which are not true.
  • Comparisons – Comparing themselves to others from an ego or low self-esteem perspective.
  • Inner critic/negative self-talk – Excess self-criticism or judgement.
  • Assumptions– Because it happened in the past, it will happen in the future.
  • Limiting belief/ self-labelling – creates limits and labels that hold players back.
  • Outcome performance focused – an emotional involvement with a future outcome creates fear and anxiety. It blocks mastery of the process.

All the above create horizontal (past & future) thinking and are part of the interference in the following equation:

Performance = Potential – Interference

Learning to tap into their potential and thus having more consistent “zone” moments, are what separates the average hockey players from the great game changers. When a player can learn to manage his/her thought world, they can then manage their performances.

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About the Author
Walter Aguilar

Walter Aguilar

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.


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