How to Mentally Prepare to Be a Starter
Have you ever been thrown into a game when a starter became injured or was benched?
Were you nervous?
Were you unsure you would be able to play effectively?
Were you afraid that you might lose the game for the team?
Replacing a starter is not an easy task but the difficulty is magnified if you have hardly had any playing time during the season or you are being thrust into a starting role when a win is critical, such as an elimination game or playoff game.
The fear that you may experience when you are replacing a starter will drastically affect your effectiveness on the ice.
Fear of playing poorly causes you to be hesitant to go for loose pucks, taking away the aggressiveness that your team needs.
Fear of playing poorly forces you to play cautiously, leading to mistakes and bad judgments.
Fear of replacing a starter causes you to over-analyze and overthink your play, interfering with decision-making.
What’s the answer to replacing a starter?
How can you be mentally prepared when your number is called?
The answer is rid yourself of the thoughts of messing up. Instead focus on your skills and strengths, what you do well and your successes of the past…
Your coach chose you for a reason…
You are playing on this team because you are skilled. You have practiced, trained and prepared for this moment. Now it’s time to trust all the work you put in and show your stuff.
Third-string Colorado Avalanche goalie, Andrew Hammond, knows just want is like to replace a starter and has a plan for how to handle the situation.
Hammond will be the starter in Game 5 in a critical playoff game with the Avalanche down 3-1 in the series.
Hammond did get some playing time in the third period of Game 4 in the series, playing 17:32 minutes, stopping eight shots and allowing no goals.
Hammond played four seasons for the Ottawa Senators and had an outstanding 2015 season posting a 20-1-2 record with a 1.79 goals against average.
Since that season, Hammond has seen less playing time and has had a record of 7-13-4 in two seasons.
Hammond is relying on his past experience as evidence of his ability and trusting in his abilities and preparation.
HAMMOND: “For me to get my feet wet in the series was important, and overall it helps going into tomorrow night. It’s about trusting all your preparation, because especially at this time of year, you’re doing everything you normally would if you were playing — so from that standpoint, not too much changes.”
The key to being mentally ready to play your best hockey is to always be ready to go into the game and trust in your training.
If you have done the work and have produced in the past, then there is nothing holding you back in the present.
Be Mentally Prepared for Starting:
Prepare your game every week as if you will get the call to start the game. This ensures you’re physically ready when the time comes.
Visualize yourself starting the game and performing with poise and confidence.
Anticipate game-like situations, such as penalty killing, and seeing yourself performing with composure in those situations.
Boost Your Self-Confidence And Focus With Expert Mental Game Coaching!
If you’re a top performer during practice but find yourself under-performing in competition, the most likely culprit holding you back is your mental game.
Master mental game coach Dr. Patrick Cohn can help you overcome your mental game issues with one-on-one personal mental game coaching.
You can work with Dr. Patrick Cohn himself in Orlando, Florida or via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone. Call us toll free at 888-742-7225 or contact us for more information about the different coaching programs we offer!
What are our mental game coaching students, parents and coaches saying?
“The resources that you have available on your website have been wonderful. A sound mental game may be more important then the actual physical part of the sport. Yes you have to have the talent, but the mental game is what sets apart a very good athlete compared to an elite athlete. Thanks again.”
“Peaksports.com web site is so exciting. I researched them all and without a doubt your mental training site is the best! The vast amount of programs you provide helps athletes and coaches achieve higher levels of excellence in sports.”
~Doug Bolander, Hockey Coach
“Great stuff on the hockey psychology report! Thank you very much for sharing. We are going to go through the report tonight at practice. Keep up the awesome work.”
~Sean Woodhouse (Coach Woody)
“I coach 2002’s at a AA level. I’m convinced that half of them are held back more by their minds than their bodies, maybe more than half. I like your 10 costly mistakes players make. The language is targeted at older kids, but the ideas are simple enough to convey to younger players. I’ll be using some of this for our game this afternoon!”
~Steve Taylor, Hockey Coach