The Difference Between Gold and Going Home


So, I’m having dinner the other night with a buddy of mine who is a hockey nut like I am. and we got to talking about the Olympics and the women’s and men’s hockey outcomes.

When he asked what I thought about the results from a mental toughness perspective, here’s what I shared with him, and I thought I’d share with all of you because we’re coming into playoffs and the games will mean so much more now.

I said that I thought the different outcomes had to do with a few things but the biggest being the tightness of the team, the clarity and solidarity of their mission, and of course, mental toughness.

Obviously, the tightness of the women’s team compared to the men’s team was obvious. The women have been preparing for the rematch with Canada since Sochi in 2014.

The men pretty much came together in the weeks prior to the games and worked to become a cohesive and functional group. They had some small issues getting in sync but that is to be expected, even with elite athletes such as they are … and I believe this was one of the big reasons for the differences in outcome

The second reason is similar to the first and it had to do with the clarity and solidarity of their mission.

Both teams wanted to win, obviously, but the clarity of the mission for the women versus the men was a big factor in getting the gold medal versus not even making it to the medal round.

Lastly, was the mental toughness aspect of the competition. Of course, both teams were mentally tough, however, I believe because of the first two reasons I’ve already mentioned, mental toughness for the women had a level of synergy that the men did not.

When dealing with adversity and pressure, the mental toughness of the women, along with their clarity of mission and solidarity of the team overall was much stronger than the individual mental toughness of the men.

What I mean is, 20 mentally tough players on their own are not as strong as 20 mentally tough players as one.

And I believe that is why the men’s team struggled to come back against the Russian team, and ultimately failed to deliver against the Czechs to get to the medal round.

That’s why I am so committed and passionate about teaching the mental parts of the game. Because I know you can get ridiculously skilled players together to play important games, but skill alone isn’t enough … there is something more to be able to win the big games. The important games.

And I’m not saying the men don’t have it and the women do. I’m saying the men didn’t have it, and the women did. At the Olympics, during those two weeks in February.

Mental toughness can sound like a simple concept or it can be confusing as heck. Depends on who you ask. But I think we’ll all agree that mental toughness plays a huge role in outcomes, in how far players move up in the game, in how teams win the big games … mental toughness is sprinkled all over stuff like this …

But, what are we doing to develop in this area? What are we doing to become stronger and tougher, other than just playing and learning how to deal with more and more situations, and tougher and tougher circumstances?

I call it the school of hard knocks and every hockey player alive knows what I’m talking about.

But what if there was more?  ... What if there are other things you can do to improve in this area, to develop in this area?


I’m doing a free webinar coming up and I’d like for you to join me where I talk about ways to ensure you have the ability to step up and be your best when it matters the most.

I’ll share with you a skill that is so important that if you don’t have it or you don’t improve it, will leave you shaking your head in frustration.

And I’ll also share with you 5 areas in a player's game that can predict their performance and what you can do to make sure you’re developing in these areas.

The webinar will be about an hour and I’d love for you to join me.

Click the link below to register. As I said, it’s free and it’s the stuff that every player that wants to go somewhere in hockey should know.

So, I hope I see you there. In the meantime, stay focused, work hard, and compete like a beast.

Bar Down!

Kevin L. Willis, PhD (aka Dr Dub)
Sport Psychologist
Level 5 USA Hockey Coach

Focus Clarity Compete Level Stress Preparation