A new hockey season has just begun or will begin very shortly.  This is an exciting time of the year for most, but it can also be very stressful and confusing (ie. how will I play, will me new teammates like me, will my coach give me good ice time, etc.).  For those that are experiencing stress and anxiety, take a minute to focus, reflect and remember that you should not be worrying about things that are outside your control. For example, you cannot control your teammates or your coaches, but you can control your actions and how you play.

Can you tell me what are you doing today to become a better player (or a better person)?

The above is a pretty robust question if you don’t have an understanding of where you are and where you want to go (ie. what you want to accomplish). How will you know if you ever get there? How will you even know how to get there?

As your season gets underway, what paths will you take? If you haven’t begun to do so, you need to start thinking about what you want to accomplish this year. Not only thinking about it, but writing it down in the form of clear, concise goals. These written goals will help guide you toward your destination and in times of difficulty can be used to re-focus your efforts and get you back on track.

Your goals should be straightforward and focus on what you want to happen. As you go about creating your goals, you should incorporate the SMART model for goal-setting.

S — Specific: think about what you want to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it, and how you are going to accomplish it

M — Measurable: you need to be able to gauge your progress

A — Attainable: you need to set goals that you can achieve, nothing to easy, nothing too hard, but they need to be outside your comfort zone

R — Realistic: can you realistically achieve this goal (within the availability of your resources, knowledge and time)

T — Timely: have you set a time frame and end point for this goal

Goal-setting can be a powerful tool if used appropriately and consistently. Every college coach I worked with this summer conveyed the importance of goal-setting within their own programs. They stressed the need to accomplish this, not only on a team basis, but on an individual-player basis as well.  Some of the many benefits derived from the goal-setting process include providing you with something to strive for, motivating you to take action, creating benchmarks for success, and building up your self-esteem.

I encourage you to take time to think about what you want to accomplish this season, why you want to accomplish it, and how you will go about accomplishing it. Remember to create clear and concise goals following the SMART protocol;  create daily or weekly goals that can be used as stepping-stones along the pathway towards your overall (or long-term) goals; set goals that are attainable, but outside your comfort zone, as they will feel much more rewarding and satisfying when they are achieved.

Let me finish this post, by re-asking the following questions — WHAT ARE YOU DOING TODAY TO BECOME A BETTER PLAYER and ARE YOU BEING S.M.A.R.T. ABOUT IT?