How to Stay in Control & Focus in Games
Hockey games can get out of control at times…
A big hit can elicit an even bigger hit from the other team.
When slashing, hard checks, tripping, scuffles can become the general tone of the game, it is easy for a team to lose their focus.
Instead of going after a loose puck, you may be tempted to go for the extra hard check.
Rather than looking for opportunities to move the puck up the ice, you might look for ways to retaliate after a cheap shot.
Instead of trying to control the puck, you may attempt to avoid being hit yourself.
When you are overly focused on the other team, then what are you NOT focused on?
The answer is… Playing your game!
You see, there are two mental approaches to when games get chippy.
One approach to a chippy game is to raise the level of aggressiveness.
This is sort of the eye-for-an-eye mentality, only you are looking to win the aggressive act battle. This type of mentality leads to increased penalty minutes and more opportunities for your opponents to score.
Another negative repercussion to this overly-aggressive mindset is that it takes your team out of your game. You end up abandoning the things that make your team successful and your game-plan.
The other mental approach is to stick to the plan when the game gets chippy.
This approach keeps you focused on what you need to do each shift to be successful and not the last cheap shot or plotting your revenge on an opposing player.
The ‘stick to the plan’ approach does not imply that you back down and just accept every overly-aggressive check that comes your way.
Instead, this approach is focused on playing smart, working on your game and playing physically within the boundaries of the game.
There are no points to be won by merely winning the aggression battle.
The end result comes down to the number of goals scored, not the number of hits.
The Tampa Bay Lightning know all about maintaining focus especially when a game gets chippy.
The Lightning faced off against the Vancouver Canucks in a mid-season match-up that included a combined 44 hits and 58 penalty minutes.
Still, the Lightning were able to pull out a 5-2 victory despite the chippy tone of the game.
Tampa Bay rookie, Danick Martel, who played a very physical game against Vancouver, credited the team’s mindset and focus as the reason for the Lightning’s victory.
MARTEL: “I think we were playing in their head. They were just trying to hit us instead of playing the puck, so we had the puck a lot. We created a lot of plays. Even on that last shift, we were first on the puck, ready to jump. They were not too focused about the puck; they just wanted to hit us, so it was good for us.”
In order to keep the game under control, you need to keep yourself under control. The way to accomplish this task is to learn how to focus under stressful circumstances.
With a purposeful, self-directed focus, you will have a decisive advantage over your opponent no matter what the tone of the game.
How to Stay in Control:
When frustration runs high and the game is getting chippy, it may feel difficult to stay in control.
Composure is a mental skill you can learn to improve.
First, you want to be mentally prepared for a game that gets out of control.
This means pre-planning a way to cope with anything and how you will respond by staying focused on what’s important.
Next, let go of the aggression by the opposition and don’t get sucked into their style of play.
Focus on the next play or shift and how you will help you team score or defend.
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