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.