Start your hockey mental training today. Here is a follow-up on yesterday’s blog post with some simple techniques to begin training your brain.
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At the elite levels of most sports, the competition is usually pretty tight, with most participants having a similar level of fitness and skill, and thus, the margin for victory is small. Coaches and players are beginning to realize that in order to stay one step ahead of their competition, they need to practice more than just skill and technique, they need to train the mental aspect of their game. So when faced with similarly skilled competition, it is the team that is more mentally prepared, more poised, and more confident that will emerge the victor.
Concentration, confidence, composure and commitment are considered the primary mental qualities that are essential for successful performance in sports. Collectively, these are known as the the 4C's.
- Concentration: the ability to maintain focus
- Confidence: the belief in one's abilities
- Composure: the ability to maintain emotional control
- Commitment: the ability to set and work towards pre-defined goals
The techniques of mental imagery, goal-setting, and focus can help athletes achieve the 4C's.
With mental imagery, players imagine performing a specific movement or skill. This technique helps activate the same neural pathways from the brain to the muscles that are used to perform the actual movement. There is a plethora of scientific evidence that demonstrates the concept of mental rehearsal leading to an improvement in performance.
Goal-setting is a motivating technique that simply involves setting short-term and long-term goals for yourself. Think about an ideal future and then set incremental goals to turn your vision of the future into reality. You will learn to effectively use time and resource management to achieve short-term goals, which raises one's level of confidence and leads to increased levels of motivation.
You can improve your ability to focus much like any other skill (ie. with practice and training). The simplest form of meditation can be used to achieve greater focus through concentrating on an object -- study the object, focus completely on that object -- what does it look like, its shape and color, how does it smell, what is its texture -- learn how to control your breathing and focus your mind and energy on the simplest of tasks.
One of the biggest obstacles with mental training lies in overcoming the perceived "silliness and triviality" of some of the techniques used. But hey, this is something that can be done on your own time, in your own space, with no-one else around. Use this time wisely and correctly, and you will notice an increase in your performance, but like the development of any skill, mental training takes time and patient. Learn these techniques and many others by attending one of our summer college hockey camps.