Pre-game preparation or social hour? Many players choose the latter and their on-ice performance suffers.  Elite level players understand the importance of establishing a game-day ritual and sticking to it.

I recently chatted with Kendall Coyne , who has already garnered two world championships at the U18 level (2008, 2009), about her pre-game routine and how she is preparing to shoot for her 3rd straight Gold Medal at the 2010 IIHF World Women’s U18 Championships being held in Chicago at the end of this month. She reported going through the following routine prior to every game:

1. Shut my phone off two hours before game time
2. 30-45 min nap
3. Watch Pavel Datsyuk before I head to the rink
4. Warm up with the team
5. Foam roll my legs and back before I put my gear on
6. Listen to my IPOD and my Game Day playlist
7. Always focus on the game and see myself making a play or something.

In her words, “As I prepare for worlds I focus every lift and every practice on doing what it will take to get gold. I am fortuante enough to be practicing at the rink in which worlds will be held at so every time I go to the rink I treat it like it is day one of the tournament”.

If you speak with any elite or pro player, I am sure they could recite a similar pre-game ritual.  In order to develop a sound game plan you need to target 5 essential components. These include physical, nutritional, tactical, mental and emotional factors.

EXACT Sports studies the importance of the mental and emotional state of the athlete and the resultant effects on performance. Becoming mentally prepared for each game helps relax the pre-game jitters, by reducing performance anxiety and instilling the confidence needed to perform to the best of your ability.

As a player, aim to establish a routine that helps get you “into the zone.” The ability to focus the mind and get rid of daily distractions is key (ie. turn off your phone, forget about any worries at home or school, log-off of facebook). Once you have established the proper frame of mind, begin visualizing and focusing on execution. Create mental pictures of yourself putting a nasty move on a defender, blocking a shot at a crucial junction of the game, opening up for a 1-timer, or winning a key face-off. You want to go into a game with confidence, feeling good about yourself, and focused on executing your game plan.

When combined with proper nutrition and an effective physical warm-up, having a solid mental training plan in place will help instill the optimal level of confidence and mental activation required to play your best hockey.  EXACT Sports is hosting a series of hockey camps this summer with a focus on mental training and development that are designed to get high school athletes ready for college hockey.  The National Player Development Camp (NPDC) will feature on-ice instruction by leading college coaches (D1 and D3) and off-ice training led by leaders in sports psychology. For more information and a schedule of events, please visit