Monday, 15 March 2010

Three ingredients

A snippet of a new post:

I hate losing. I think it’s apparent from my psyche and the way I react to a defeat, especially if we lose in a way that is humiliating or where we did not put up a fight. People who I’ve played with, or coached in the past know that I live and breathe the game and I can’t stand lacklustre attitudes, or if some one is playing like they’re in gumdrop land. Yes I do throw, what you may call, tantrums but I do it only because I care and because I want to play with intensity and show the fire I’ve got towards the game every time I’m on the ice... Continues at:

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Amateur Hockey has moved

New posts will be available from

I will post links to this blog during migration, but no new posts will appear here.

Tale of two Teams

Let me tell you a story of two teams, day and night. A story that will puzzle most and that has an ending similar to any M. Knight Shamalayan (or however his name is spelt) movie.

Chapter 1:
Team Day:
Once upon a time Team Day travelled to a dark and dreary place on the planet. The maps had marked the zone only as ‘Here there be evil’. The depressing surroundings of Gosport always sent a chill down the spine of any player who dared enter the domain. Whenever anyone arrived at the lair of the Scorpions, the short walk in to the lair often felt like needing to wear a stab vest, such were the surroundings and the trolls that lived in the area.

Valiantly ten men entered the rink. Knowing what lay ahead of them in a rink the size of most living rooms. Collision filled hockey in a place that any sensible country would’ve condemned years ago as unsafe for contact sports. Despite the game going back and forth and a few terrible mistakes, Team Day re-grouped and came out the gate fighting. Scorpions fought hard, but Team Day managed to snap the spine of the Scorpions and pulled away by 11-5 win. In a tight battle Team Day did everything right and did everything as they were supposed to and won.

Afterward, drinks flowed and Team Day that arrived at the Scorpion’s lair with a smile on their faces, left with an even bigger grin on their faces.

Chapter 2:
Team Night:
A week later Team Day had succumbed under a spell of something, something Dark Side. A game where the buzz of the previous victory still fresh one everyones mind and the Scorpion’s tail hanging on the changing room wall Team Day went to hunt for Panthers in the familiar surroundings.

However, where for a period and a half, Team Day showed some form, the spell descended and Team Day was turned into Team Night. Everything that the 10 valiant men did the week before, was thrown out the window. Where the previous win relied on team play and short changes, Team Night played with long shifts and as individuals. The Panthers mutilated Team Night with an ugly score line.

No smiles were shared, no drinks flowed. The happiness of last week was replaced with a dark void.

What a difference a few individuals make and what a difference of those individuals’ attitudes make to the good spirits of many.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Mental readiness

Why is mental toughness important in hockey? You could ask 20 hockey players and you would get 20 different answers. Mental toughness and preparedness is something that is individual to each player, but all of the 20 players would still agree that mental toughness is important. Each individual will respond to different mental stimulus and mental toughness is something that each player achieves in their own way, though the coaches will always raise the explosiveness and emotional charge for a game.

But why does it matter? Will it make a difference if a player comes into the game 'flat' and not charged up mentally? My view is that yes, yes it does. Hockey, when played at a high level is a physical battle and your body and mind is constantly looking for excuses to give that one inch in order to give your body a break. The only difference is that the body might have the energy, but what goes on between the ears of a player will greatly diminish the energy reserves available.

Toughness is particularly important in situations when you are fighting a game where you are down but you know its not out of reach. It is players who think that all is lost who will drag teams down, where the teams' leadership, from captains to coaches need to make sure that they use their experience and passion to guide the team to victory.

Hockey is a momentum game, where events like goals, hits, fights and good plays can swing the momentum to one team. The team that scores will of course have the momentum and knowledge that the other team needs to fight back, where as the team that has to claw back the differential, needs to dig deep and demonstrate mental toughness and get back in the game.

When I look back at last season, whenever we went down by a goal, we didn't have the type of leadership on the bench or on the ice (myself included) that would've stood up and said, 'C'mon guys, there's only one goal in it, we can do it.' Or 'This is our game! Let's fight to win this.' Whenever we went down by a goal, the mood on the bench and changing room was far from motivational, but more like in a mortuary. We, as a team, didn't have mental toughness to compete in those situations and we basically let our heads fill with thoughts of fear and not being good enough, though with good and positive encouragement we could've pulled back a few of the games.

When a team goes into a game with a losing mentality, there's very little anyone can do to turn that around. The terrible thing about this mentality is that, hockey having somewhat of a pack mentality, it quickly filters down to each player. Even those who want to perform will not give their optimum performance.

Therefore I can only say that mental toughness is still important, Perhaps equally important if not more than physical toughness. If you are not mentally tough, a big hit, a goal against, or a bad play will destroy what little confidence you may have had, where the mentally tough player will use these things as a catalyst to play better.

Friday, 26 February 2010

For this season I am giving up:

If you’re religious, you know that lent is a time for giving up. Where I’m not religious, I thought that to improve my intensity for the up and coming season, I’ll give something up as well.

During the year when I suffered my knee injury and was cleared to play, I scored points in every single game, all the way to the finals. Back in those days, I was a vegetarian and I didn’t drink. To make sure that I squeeze every last bit of performance out of my body, I have decided to give up alcohol for the duration of the summer cup.

Providing that I achieve my ultimate goal, I will carry the pledge through to that season as well. So after 5th of March I shall not be consuming any alcohol for the duration of the season.

What is my motive for this? For those of you who don’t know I didn’t drink for 2 years due because I didn’t like the taste of it, or the hangovers. Where I don’t drink that much now days, I find that when I do, it takes me a lot longer to recover, which hinders my training and effectively playing as all our games are over the weekend. Further to this I hope that the approach will help me gain that extra bit of jump on the ice and allow for more adrenaline to course through my veins in games.

If I am to play this game for the maximum amount of time, I need to make sure that I do something that I have ignored in the past and take care of my body and listen to its requirements, rather than go hell for leather and try to push through serious injuries.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Training Update

So the months and weeks are counting down to what should be an interesting cup competition. Few teams have pulled out and a couple of teams have lost core players so it will be interesting to see how it will all pan out.

As I tick off another month from my season preparation, I thought it would be a good time to review where I am in terms of fitness and overall feel, which is something I have not done for a while.

This month I have worked on strength training with a programme that consists of the following exercises:

Day 1:
Bench press 4 sets
Incline bench press 4 sets
Seated Military press 4 sets
Good mornings 4 sets
Close Grip Pull downs 4 sets
Leg curls 5 sets

Day 2:
Squats 5 sets
Deadlift 5 sets
Reverse curl 5 sets
Hammer Curls 4 sets
Tricep Kickback 4 sets
Preacher curls 4 sets

Where I find Day 2 harder, it is also more enjoyable as it gets a good sweat going.

My body weight had gone up and I have managed to gain all of the bulk that I lost during the appendectomy and the inactivity it caused.

On the ice I feel faster and stronger, though I’m being overly cautious as I’m breaking in new skates and I haven’t quite gotten used to them yet.

Performance wise, I feel faster and I think one area that has improved more than most is that I am difficult to move away from a screen in front of the goal. All in all I am positive about my progress.

Things to work on:

Need to start speed, agility and quickness (SAQ) exercises and dedicate more time over the weekends to training. Also I need to get on the bike more and make sure I do some low impact cardio work to make sure I further improve my stamina.


One of my major concerns for reaching my goals has been that I have no idea whether I am good enough to make it. I have no clear bench mark that I can measure myself against and compare, whether I am in a position where I can compete with the players that play at higher levels. One thing that I always strive on is criticism and feedback and it has always helped me to push on with work life.

Whatever criticism or feedback I’ve received, I’ve used it as fuel to succeed. This way of thinking has skyrocketed my work career and helped me to excel in situations that I thought were beyond me. The same applies to hockey. When my coach in the Dutch league told me I wasn’t hitting enough, the next few weeks I worked on my angles and timing my hits right to make sure that I didn’t play myself out of the situation.

There are countless of other examples that I can think of where the coaches have told me something and I’ve worked on it to improve myself. When I got back to the game of hockey, I did it through inline hockey. When I started I had been out of the game for over two years and I was appalling in my first season as I struggled to make the wheels do what the normal ice skate did. I spent my first off season skating, often alone, in the university’s sports hall, practicing turns and pivots and making sure that I was able to manoeuvre on the skates. The next season, I went to score points in 24 consecutive games, just from being able to skate and move properly.

Now that I’m back on the ice, I know that my speed, shot and physical play are up to scratch, but I’m not sure of what my coaches expect of me and what role they want me to play. In the Dutch league I was playing a defensive forward role, basically being used in situations when we had to keep the puck out of our net and zone. With my new found scoring touch, I have been playing a more offensive game, which I enjoy. But at the same time, I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to be a goal scorer, a play maker or a power forward. I have been combining the elements of all three, but due to lack of feedback I’m not sure if I’m playing the systems right.

That’s no criticism of our coach, in fact I have nothing but respect for him as he takes numerous hours of his time to make sure we have a team to play for. It’s just my personal preference to hear feed back and learn where I’m going wrong when on the ice and also to hear from him what he sees my role in the team, whether it is play making or scoring.

Personally I see myself as a playmaking forward, as I tend to have a good vision of the ice in the offensive zone. I like to work out of the corner or from behind the net and find the rushing guys to pass to. Sure I like nothing better than scoring goals but I also need to play to my strengths.

I’m not saying that I want to be grouped as a passer and a set up man, because I do have the nose for the net. My goals are clear and I am sure that I will be able to translate into multiple points and wins for the team.