Let’s face it. stuff happens. If you played perfectly 100% of the time and everything always went your way, you’d probably be the most cool-headed, composed player on the ice. but this is the real world. sometimes, things don’t go your way. and when they don’t, it’s up to you to know how to deal with it.
Identifying the attitudes that can rattle you is the first step in building composure.
10 - DOUBT
When you doubt your skills or ability, you lose confidence. And if you aren’t confident, you are more likely to lose your composure in tough situations. Doubt erodes your confidence and undermines your composure.
9 - IRRATIONAL BELIEFS
Irrational beliefs disrupt your mind and cause you to focus on the wrong things. Such irrational beliefs keep you stuck in habits and thought patterns that you think are effective, but may actually be holding you back.
8 – GETTING STUCK IN THE COMFORT ZONE
If you are only able to play when you feel safe and comfortable, then anytime you are forced outside your comfort zone you will struggle and tense up (squeeze the stick) causing you to lose composure. Have you ever heard the saying “good is the enemy of great”? It means that sometimes being a good player keeps you from pushing yourself to be better. And if you want to be a great player and not just a good player, you need to constantly push the boundaries of your comfort zone.
7 - LACK OF EMOTIONAL CONTROL
Do you get mad or frustrated easily? Are you ready to lose it when a guy lines up against you and whacks your stick, or chirps you between plays? When you can’t control your emotions, then your emotions will control you. Allowing your emotions to get out of hand prevents you from finding the focus and composure you need to play your best.
6 - WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK
It is natural to want others to think well of you. But if you start to worry about what others think, you become distracted and start to play to meet the expectations of others, rather than focusing on your own game.
5 - BEING A PERFECTIONIST
If only we could be perfect. But we’re not. Hockey is not a sport of perfect and hockey players are never going to be perfect. Perfectionists get rattled easily because they tend to focus on mistakes instead of what they need to do to perform well. Perfectionists feel they’re never quite good enough and lose their composure when things get tough.
4 - DWELLING ON MISTAKES
We all make mistakes. But we don’t have to let mistakes control us. When you dwell on your mistakes, frustration sets in; which can lead to a loss of emotional control. And if you are not in control of your emotions, you’re not composed.
3 - INTIMIDATION
Sometimes going up against a strong team can be intimidating. But, when you focus on the strengths of your opponent, you take your attention away from your own strengths.
2 – FEAR OF FAILURE
Nobody likes to mess up or make mistakes. But sometimes messing up or failing can actually help you become a better player. Playing to avoid failure causes you to play soft or careful for fear of screwing up. If you’re overly worried about messing up or looking bad, it’s hard to feel confident and stay composed.
1 – LACK OF CONFIDENCE
The number one reason players get rattled is through a lack of confidence. How do you think of yourself? Not only as a hockey player but also as a person? Do you see yourself as someone who chokes or someone who steps up when the game is on the line? What labels do you apply to yourself? Having low confidence can cause you to lose composure when negative thoughts crowd your mind, usually at critical moments in a game when you need to be strong and confident.
If any of these feel "familiar", then guess what ... you're human! ... you're perfectly normal ... these are things that every person feels ... the key is to know what to do when you experience them ... that's where mental toughness comes in!
That’s it for now
Kevin L. Willis, PhD
Level 5 USA Hockey Coach