6 Helpful Ways to Conquer Your Hockey Fears
Here are a few simple recommendations that we might use with a player that might help you deal with fear and put it in perspective:
1. Address your fears directly.
What are you afraid of and what might be the reasons? When you understand what might be causing your fear and acknowledge it, it will help you consider ideas how to address it.
2. Always remember your purpose for playing.
“I love playing hockey because I love the speed, the competitive environment, the opportunity to show my skills and sharing an experience with my teammates.” Write your purpose down and keep it front and center – always! Your purpose will help you create perspective about what’s REALLY important in your game and why you are doing it. Remember, also, that have a feeling of gratitude about the opportunity to play and do what you love to do can fill you with positive energy and dampen the feelings of fear.
3. Learn to manage the most important voice in your game (and your life) – your own!
Sometimes our own voice doesn’t help and tells you things you really don’t want to hear – building the threats into something bigger than they are. It’s important to develop your own “emotional caddie” – a friendly, supportive voice that you might use if your best friend was having troubles. Try the same language and tone with yourself. A few suggestions might be, “I can’t wait to test what I’ve been working on in practice,” “Everyone watching is supporting me – I’ll treat them to some great play,” “My best effort is all I can do – I may make a few mistakes, but being perfect doesn’t exist,“ and “Pressure really gives my game meaning – this is where I want to be.”
4. Confidence and constantly building it is a secret weapon to overcome fear.
Creating a feeling of “knowing” you can do it in your practice and preparation will help keep those fearful “what if” thoughts from taking over. After all, you’ve done great work in your practice with the team and on your own. You know you can do it – so bring the same feelings and approach to the game ice.
5. Practice mindfulness to enjoy hockey and stay in the moment.
The future is where your goals are, but you don’t achieve them without staying in the moment and paying attention to the steps that will get you to those goals. Choose to bring the positive experiences from the past forward to support your confidence, and choose to leave the few negative ones where they belong – behind you!
6. Know the difference between “prove vs. improve.”
The goal in your game should always be trying to improve all of your skills (technical, physical, strategic, mental/emotional). Sometimes when our goal is to “prove” ourselves to others, fear will creep in – the fear of the “what ifs” and trying to meet other’s expectations of you. Winning is great, but it will only come if you are doing the right things – enjoying yourself and trying to become a better player each day.
So if fear is holding you back from really enjoying your hockey and using all your abilities, fear not. Remember that you are in control of your fears and there are practical actions that can help you douse the flames – helping you to be a more confident, proactive player. Follow these steps and you are well on your way to your pursuit of greatness!
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— HockeyShot Mental & Emotional Coach John Haime
(Jan. 16, 2019)