Friday, 13 February 2009

Fix You

There are times in life and sport when you are faced with a seemingly steep slump. The lack of motivation and general drive might be missing from one aspect of your life and it can fester itself into the deepest corners of the mind.

In the rink a slump might mean that you are not as effective and you question your own abilities, which is what I did most of last season. Going from having great jump on the skates and being able to out skate opposing players seemed like a thing of the past, I was left reeling in a situation that pulled my confidence to the ground and left me questioning where had things like speed and scoring touch vanished. It looked like some one just sucked them out of me over night.

Same with work life, slumps can seriously affect the level of output and you can be left wondering where all the creativity and taking pride in your self have vanished. Sometimes the two can be intertwined. Maybe pressures in the rink are carried to the office and vice versa.

During the off-season I have been frantically trying to get back into physical as well as mental shape. I find that it has been a tough road so far. Physical training is easier to do as you get into a routine of things, but the mental game, and hockey is 90% mental. This aspect of the game is often not easy to master and it takes a lot of patience and self exploration.

Over the months from the end of my season in July, I have been trying to reflect on what went wrong last season. My career had really taken off and I was starting to get incredibly busy. Plus then there was a personal highlight of getting married. So last season was really manic outside the rink and I suppose that parts of the stress was carried over to the rink with me and weighed me down. Then there was the well documented knee injuries that plagued me for through last season.

The downside on playing at a recreational level is that you can be stuck with players who make your life difficult. You know that you are able to score goals and win games for the team, but games aren’t won by individuals, they are won by teams. If the team has weak links, it will ultimately weigh down on the entire team and individual players as well. It is disheartening at times, when you see that you have one line that is capable of creating chances each shift and then you know that the best chances of you seeing the offensive zone is when you are chasing an iced puck. In hockey you need five solid players on a line to make things happen, your job is ultimately harder if you have five guys out there but it is only the four guys who make things happen.

So how do you break out of a slump? Many players might start gripping the stick too hard and grind their teeth to get the goals. Ultimately, hockey is a sport that is all about confidence and the only thing that will feed confidence is success. It is the same in the office environment as well. You crave for results and something that will give you a buzz and you want to re-experience that buzz over and over again. And I’m not talking about taking narcotics. The best way to break out of a slump is depending on individual, but for me the best way is to ride them out and work hard. Sooner or later you will have a good game and you will be able to build up on the confidence you’ve gotten from it.

It is what I did when I returned from my knee injury. My first game was weak as I didn’t know how much the knee could take, but the second game after that, I scored two goals and two assists. From there, I was able to hammer home at least one point per game all the way up to the final game of the season, the bronze final, which we eventually lost.

I apply the same method to work as well. Whether it is securing an interview with a target publication or getting a great clipping from a press release are things that help you plough through from day to day.

Slumps are an inevitable part of life and sports. It is all about how we manage them and the mental games. It’s not like Coldplay say “When you try so hard and you don’t succeed”, it is through trying hard you will be able to fix yourself in the end.

No comments: