Tuesday, 24 March 2009

... And So We Learn

With April and the season just around the corner, preparation is ramping up. Pre-season training is slowly being turned to in-season programmes and training intensity is higher than before. We are also getting used to the rigours of playing games, which is something that I must admit we’ve all been aching to do since our last game a year ago.

We haven’t played that many games yet, two to be honest, and preparation could be a bit more demanding, in terms of getting the appropriate readiness and read of situations. Our latest effort was against Oxford Bulls, a team that we had always had great success against and I think to a degree we were all looking for a relatively easy night and a high scoring affair as those games of the past had been. We took to the ice realising that there was only one player from the roster we once knew and everyone else were completely new and spoke with a strange central European or North American twang.

We drew the game 5-5 after being two goals up at the final two minutes of the game. What caused the unfortunate turn of events was a few defensive lapses where our goalie was left high and dry. Bit of a shame to such a strong game he played. A player who has just started to play again and hasn’t been on the ice for 4-5 years caused one of the defensive lapses. I spoke to the guy after the game and undoubtedly he was disappointed to have cost his team the win. I was disappointed to have drawn the match, after all I go out there every night to fight for a win.

But what I found interesting when I spoke to the guy, was that I was actually encouraging him, rather than giving him whippings for his mistake. It was quite clear that he was in enough of a distress over his lapse that his team mate adding to it would do him no good.

Mistakes are something we make throughout life and they are made to be learnt from. Just as in my last post about building a solid base fitness and learning from your past mistakes, mistakes are ultimately what make us better as people and as players. The only true concern is that if we make the same mistakes again and again, which would show people around you that you don’t take any notice of your actions or how they affect those around you. This approach has devastating consequences in sports, specially team sports where sometimes the success of a team depends on an individuals’ performance and whether they have learned from past mistakes.

I remember in my youth days I had a coach who would hand pick me as an example of how not to do things. Bit embarrassing to be called upon time and time again, but it was an effective way of learning from my mistakes that I made in training. This ensured that I would carry what I learnt into the games and would not make costly mistakes there.

When we learn from mistakes, whether it is in a game situation, training or at the gym, it makes us stronger individuals and stronger as a team. Sure it is frustrating and like said many times before, hockey is an adrenaline filled sport so tempers do flare up if things don’t always go the way you plan. I don’t want to sound like a new age hippy or a tree hugger, but eventually once you get over the initial reaction go back to the guys and explain why you reacted the way you did and how they can make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Hockey, more than any other sport is about making the right reads and being able to make decisions in a few fractions of a second. Players must have the ability to make a play when a guy is baring down on them and before being laid out on the board. It is about reading and anticipating and taking the hit.

I’ve learnt from my mistakes on the ice and life in general. I think last summer’s experience with HPK revealed my one true mistake that I didn’t learn from on time or pursue hard enough as a kid was a pro hockey career. I am now training hard for making that dream a reality and time will tell, whether I have learnt from that mistake enough to push for that ‘spot in the sun’.

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