Do you have a pre-game hockey routine? All great players do.
Routines are one of the most effective tools for maximizing off-ice training and improving on-ice performance. They ensure that you are totally ready – physically, mentally, emotionally and technically – to achieve your best.
Experts agree that an established routine is beneficial in two crucial areas.
The first is physiological: with repetition and consistency, desired actions become automatic. Muscles have a learned response. Those long hours stickhandling, skating lines, and battling in the corner, program a player’s body to react instinctively when crunch time comes.
Crucial mechanics of foot placement, breath-control and energy management need to be learned, rehearsed and absorbed so they become instinct. Then, when the puck drops, complex motor responses can be counted on to come together naturally.
Just as importantly, pre-game routines serve a psychological function as well. In the minutes and hours leading up to a game, a routine of positive self-talk, controlled breathing and visualization – affirming ability, calming nerves and picturing the perfect execution of each element – enables the player to focus and harness mental energy. It takes time and practice to develop these skills, but the effort is well worth it.
The value of the confidence-building pre-game “pep talk” is as time-honoured as sport itself.
“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” may have been the definition of insanity to Einstein. But to the serious hockey player, it is the secret to enhanced performance… and success.