MINDFULNESS is about being aware of how you think, feel, and act. It’s about getting into your own head to see how you tick. It’s all about knowing yourself more clearly and paying attention to your life as it unfolds – both on and off the ice.
What if I said that if you just took the time to understand the way your mind works, you could improve your mental toughness in ways that will help you remove the stress, pressure and anxiety that are involved in the game of hockey? What if it could help you cope with other obstacles such as frustration (e.g., lack of ice time), disappointment (e.g., getting cut), and anger(e.g., losing)? Would you be interested then?
1. IT HELPS YOU BE IN THE MOMENT
Let’s face it our hockey schedules are insane! Between the practices, games, tournaments, off-ice training, playoffs, and “birthday skates” there’s barely any time to take a break and relax. The reality is we spend most of our days fearing the “what-ifs” of tomorrow, or regretting all the mistakes we’ve made in the past.
If you want to be a successful hockey player, then focus on what you can control: your effort and your performance! Don’t worry about what you can’t control, be present and enjoy the process.
2. IT LOWERS DEPRESSION AMONGST TEENS
Dealing with the pressure of every day life is a tall task. Young players not only deal with on ice issues (e.g., playing time, point production, slumps, injuries, and fatigue, etc.) they also have to deal with the pressure to succeed off the ice (e.g., doing well academically and maintaining positive relationships with friends and family). Can you say gong show???
Teaching players to “let go” and be aware of the present moment could help them experience less anxiety, depression, and stress.
3. IT INCREASES FOCUS
Most of our day is ruled by habits. The problem is that as soon as there’s a moment when we don’t need to completely focus, our minds end up wandering all over the map. The mind is ridiculously stubborn – it tends to avoid the present moment as much as possible. In fact, according to a recent study out of Harvard, we daydream close to 47% of the day – that’s nearly half of our life! Even when we think we’re in the zone, we find ourselves mentally checked out.
Being mindful and being aware of your thoughts (and how and why they drift) is the first step to consciously remaining in the moment. Players who don’t get mad at themselves for past mistakes or fret about future mistakes are the ones who are more in the zone and most likely to be successful.
4. IT HELPS CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS.
Despite what we think, we are not fully in control of our emotions. We can’t turn them off, and we can’t always make them do what we want them to do. Our passion seems to pop up, especially when we’re frustrated during an intense game of hockey. We’ve all been in a situation when the game gets heated, and you turn around and retaliate just in time to be penalized by the ref. End result, you feel awful because you’ve not only let yourself down, but your coach and team as well.
Identifying this reactive habit is the first step of awareness, and a key component that will help you learn to control your emotions, which will keep you out of the penalty box.
5. IT HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER
If I had a penny for every time I starred at the ceiling because I couldn’t go to sleep, we’d all be rich. Your busy day starts and ends like this: You attend school all day, take 3 tests, hit the gym, have a school hockey game, then a rep game, and then you have to study! You find yourself up until 2 am dreading the moment when the alarm goes off in 4 hours, just so you can do it all over again. Yikes!!!
Studies show that Mindfulness Training not only helps us control our emotions and moods better, but it can also help us sleep better. This benefits our energy levels, which will lead to a better performance on the ice.
By Coach Corey