Setting Goals to Better Focus on Your Game
Comparisons can haunt some hockey players….
Players use comparisons to gauge where they stand in relation to teammates and opponents.
While some comparisons can motivate players, most of the time comparisons lead to having less confidence.
Here is how comparisons leads to confidence issues…
Joey W. has played on the junior varsity high school team for three years while many of his friends made varsity as freshmen.
Joey grew up playing with many of his teammates and has seen them improve their games at a faster rate than himself.
Joey worked hard during practice and has improved his speed on the ice and his stick handling over the years, but he is not where he wants to be.
Joey is in constant comparison mode with his friends and becomes frustrated.
Joey fears that he will not be good enough to play in college and thinks most of his teammates will be offered scholarships.
Little by little, Joey’s confidence drops which messes with thinking, causes him to make uncharacteristic mistakes on the ice and affects his effort in practice.
Joey questions if all the training, waking up at 6 AM for practice and hitting the weight room is worth it.
Joey’s constant comparison to other players holds him back from advancing his game and negatively affects his confidence, even though he has improved over the years.
How quickly a player improves is unique for every athlete.
Just because one hockey player has improved at an early age does not mean they will continue that rate of improvement.
Also, you should look for ways to improve your game by comparing yourself to yourself.
If Joey W. is trying to be like John H., he will only ever be the second best version of John H.
The key to potential and confidence is to focus on your game and the path you take to raise your game to the next level.
Twenty-six year-old defenseman, Colton Saucerman, has toiled in the ECHL and AHL for eight different teams since 2016.
Even though the average NHL rookie age is 20 years-old, Saucerman refuses to give up on his dream.
Saucerman understands that each player’s path to their goal has its own schedule.
Saucerman has not fallen into the comparison trap and continues to focus on the development of his game.
SAUCERMAN: “Everybody’s path is kind of different, right? You have some guys that are drafted and they are franchise players. I just wasn’t that guy. I am still chasing the dream that all of us have, and that’s playing in the NHL one day… For sure I’ve got to go out and prove myself that I belong there and earn that respect on the ice. I just try to approach it like I’m here to help and just have fun with it.”
By focusing on ways to improve your game, those little incremental improvements you achieve will actually enhance your confidence.
Avoid falling into the comparison trap that so many hockey players fall into.
Understand your success is on your timeline and focusing on your game greatly increases your chances to achieve your long-term objective and avoid the comparison trap.
How to Avoid the Comparison Trap
Set high but manageable goals for the season.
Compare your performance to your past performance.
Credit yourself for each success that moves you toward that goal.
By focusing on what you need to do and the steps necessary to achieve that objective, you can steer clear of the comparison trap.
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“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!”
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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.
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“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)