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We are heading into the 2nd half of the season and before you know it playoffs… Mental imagery is just one of the pieces of the puzzle that every hockey player needs to complete themselves. He/she need to work and develop their skating shooting, stickhandling, off ice strength, and knowledge, or hockey sense of the game. Mental toughness is just as important as the previous skills I listed. Here is one of the most famous quotes by Wayne Gretzky that leads right in to my article this month on Mental Imagery “What you see is what you get. Great goal scorers see, feel, and think about great shots before they happen.” Wayne Gretzky”
VISUALIZATION FOR SUCCESS
1) Find a quiet place to relax and start thinking about something in your game. Imagine one of the following situations: skating and stickhandling with speed around a defenseman, shooting low hard shots, making great passes, giving a great hit or check ect. HEAR the sound of the puck or stick, the noise your blades make as you dig in the ice with your edges, ect, in the situation you have decided to imagine. Then stop and “replay” it again in your mind how it felt. FEEL the difference between theses plays. See the difference in each shot/play. First imagine the play then execute it! Use the same technique with all your skills.
2) Imagine yourself playing a full game. Plan your strategy and SEE yourself doing one of the skills perfectly. SEE yourself in your mind’s eye like you’re watching yourself on a DVD. Then SEE yourself from the inside out –looking at the puck from inside your body. Focus on the image and FEEL of the play at the same time you see it from inside your mind’s eye. HEAR the play as you replay it in your mind.
3) Coming off the bench imagine yourself having an awesome shift. Picture where the puck is and how you’re going to react, how great you’re skating. Then when you get the puck, picture a burst of speed (3 or 4 powerful strides) while moving the puck.
4) If you’re starting to feel like you have no energy, use the energizing imagery. Think about how explosive you’re first few steps and strides are, and picture your feet moving so fast. Imagine what you want to happen.
5) If you start to feel yourself getting hyper, stressed, or anxious, imagine how your body feels when you’re angry or tense, then feel it when you’re super relaxed and playing your best.
YOUR VISUALIZATION PROGRAM
1) When you first get to the rink check it out. Find a place in the stands or near the ice against the glass and visualize yourself preparing to be successful. Make yourself super comfortable with the rink you’re in.
2) The night before go through all your mental rehearsal techniques that we just covered. If you have an area of your game that needs work, go through it a few times in your head to makes sure you are mentally ready. If you have a tactical question talk to your coach about it as well before the game to be sure you are ready.
3) On top of going over all the visualization for all the technical aspects of your game make sure you are emotionally ready. A lot of players have different levels of emotion for teams they play. Some teams intimate you, make you nervous, or you struggle to play against them. You need to start preparing for this at the beginning of the week.
4) Prior to competing (in the car ride to the game or at home) go through your daily plan. Make sure you have visualized all your best moves.
5) When you get to the rink go through different situations in your mind. This should help you to get ready and comfortable and into the “competitive mode.”
Hockey Night in Canada has shown clips of players such as Mike Cammalleri (Calgary Flames) and Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals) sitting out on the bench prior to their games staring out at the ice and just mentally going over plays and moves in the their minds. It is a form of training/ preparing that is so important to many hockey players.
Good luck to everyone going into their 2nd half of the season and playoffs.
Until next time Scary Mary says see you at the rink ...