There’s 3 minutes left to play in the 2nd period and your team is down by 3. You are all desperately trying to score to turn the tide of the game.
You take charge of the puck, but you lose it in a breakout that could have easily set up your top scorer for a perfect shot at the goal. Your coach angrily calls you out and so you can “think about your mistake before I put you back in.”
You sit on the bench and beat yourself up with thoughts like: “I bet I will lose my spot”, “I can’t believe I did that” and “I’m not as good as they thought.” All equally mentally destructive thoughts.
When you go back in, instead of being pumped up, all you can think about is not making another mistake. Your play is stiff and hesitant and you end up passing off on an attack when you should have taken the open shot. Your coach’s face shows the frustration you both are feeling.
Sound familiar? It gets replayed at just about every hockey game on the planet, but fortunately, there is an easy solution.
You simply need to change your focus! If you are out there on the ice thinking about a mistake that happened earlier, you are focusing on the past.
The way out of that negative mental trap is to focus on the present moment. Here’s an example of how you are already able to do that …
When you go out to restaurant, do you stop yourself from eating because sometime in your past you ate a bad meal and maybe even got sick from it? Of course not. You read the menu, imagine eating what you want (visualizing your success) and then you order.
When you are eating your food, you can stay in the present moment by focusing on the smell and taste of the food. Really look at the food and the scene in the restaurant to be totally there in the present moment.
Well that is exactly what you want to do after a mistake on the ice! Keep directing your thoughts back to the present moment. This may sound like too simple of a solution, but trust me if you can achieve this – it will give you huge results.
If your mind is in the present moment, your past mistakes disappear – they don’t even exist anymore. Fear of making a mistake is nothing more than your thinking stuck in the past and it certainly does not help you avoid mistakes in the future- it only hurts you!
So how do you do this? When you catch yourself thinking about past mistakes you simply re-FOCUS on the present by drawing attention to your senses. Think about…How do my feet feel in these skates? What does the puck sound like going across the ice? How does the mouth guard taste in my mouth?
Keep repeating to yourself “Get present, right here, right now.”
Lot’s of athletes say, “I can do this now, but my mind seems to run out of my control during a game.”
This is what separates the top elite athletes from the amateurs. They mentally train in advance and condition their minds to stay focused in the present so nothing rattles them game day. Just like you practice and drill the mechanics of the physical game, it is critical to train your brain too.
Every night before you go to bed or during breaks in the day, practice taking your thoughts back to the present moment by hyper focusing on your senses. Ask yourself what am I feeling right now?
It’s a skill that has to be practiced just like a powerful slap shot. You have to train your mind, just like you train your muscles. If you train your brain to stay focused on the present moment to block out any negative thoughts, I promise it will make you unstoppable.
Go to http://www.sportsmentaltoughness.com to learn more about how to dominate your sport and build unstoppable confidence.