Game On Magazine November 2015 - Page 29

Tips on Preparing for Practice and Games Riley Dudar Evolution Hockey Y ou arrive to the rink early and you think to yourself, “What am I going to do for the next hour?” That’s not a stupid question, by the way. Preparing your body physically for the work to come is, of course, a major component of your pre-game routine. However, the mental component of a sound pre-game routine can’t be forgotten. Getting off to a slow start or losing focus through the game is not something any athlete wants. Having the ability to hit the ice flying, both physically and mentally, is a skill and, like any skill, it can be taught, acquired and deliberately practiced. Mental preparation is a very complex topic and can be scary for some of us to talk about. Some may feel abnormal doing pre-game routines, or some of us may be inconsistent in those pre-game routines. And then there are the ‘old folks’ who look at mental preparation as part of the pre-game routine in the ‘traditional’ sense - sitting alone in a corner, head buried, psyching oneself up, avoiding human contact. Whatever your current idea of mental preparation is, its important to understand that it is a skill, it requires consistency and it should be unique to you. It would be ineffective for me to suggest the pre-game routine that would work best for you. I don’t know many of you personally, and each one of you is very different. Therefore, my intention isn’t to hand you a pre-game routine. I do want to do is to have you keep it simple, focus on the foundations of sound mental preparation and give you the tools to find what works best for you. The objective of your routine should be: • To feel prepared and ready to compete • To feel confident in your own skills • To fully enter the role of an athlete My challenge for you is to achieve the above objectives every time you arrive at the rink. I want you to get rid of the strict expectations you, your coach or your parents have on you. You can’t wish for points and you’re trying your best, so stop worrying about scoring. Get rid of the stress and work on our confidence. An athlete who leaves his confidence to chance is not a prepared athlete, so review your confidence builders. I want to see you being proactive with your self-confidence while your taping your twig or tying your skates. Doubt is the opposite of confidence, and doubt doesn’t come to the rink with you. Life’s worries are on hold for a few hours, so free your mind and flip on the autopilot switch. Know your opponent, know their tendencies, know them well and find a way to expose them. Always respect your opponent, but know that you will overcome anything he’ll bring. If you are thinking about what others MIGHT be thinking, I know one thing for sure, you’re not thinking about the things that you can control. Your thoughts drive your performance, you create your thoughts. Strive to master what you can control and you will have built a strong foundation for mental preparation. Most importantly, remember this: It’s just a game. Go out and have some fun. n NOVEMBER 2015 GAME ON 29