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Why Do You Love the Game?

By Hans Skulstad, MN Sports & Mind, 04/14/15, 9:00AM CDT


What’s Your WHY?  Why do you play the game?  At first thought, many players, parents, and coaches may not see this as an important question.  In my 15 years plus experience with all of the above, the answers to this question create the foundation for your performance and your overall mental strength.

Several years ago I was introduced to the work of Simon Sinek.  He has authored several books and speaks of the importance of knowing why you do what you do.  His work focuses on performance in business and in life.  As I read, I realized athletes need to identify their “Why.”  Why?

It does not matter what sport you play, you need to know your why because everywhere you go you will face challenges and adversity. Some you will be prepared for.  As we have seen over the last several years, some you will not.   These situations will both reveal and build character for you.  The circumstances of where, what team, what league or what the game means, won’t matter.

Stories of overcoming adversity and performing at a high level captivate us and make us wonder “How did they do that?” Hockey teaches EVERYONE involved in the game how to respond and get back when adversity hits. 

Those moments when you and your teammates dreams are on the line and you need to clear the puck.  Or you need just one more goal. You can cut the tension in the arena with a knife.  But you stay poised, focused, and intense.

Those hot summer days when you are training and skating.  And shooting pucks in the garage while your friends soak in the sun at the lake.   And saying no thank you to cookies, donuts, and fries. 

Those coaching moments when you know you will be walking into a locker room full of kids crying their eyes out because their season and career has ended.  Their relationship with the game has just changed.  But you stay poised, and focus on what your players need.

Those moments when your son or daughter comes out of the locker room disappointed with the outcome.  You know that no matter what you say, only they can get themselves over the disappointment and mistakes that were made. But you stay poised, and focused on your kid needs.

What’s your “WHY?”

Knowing Why provides the fuel for mental strength. Knowing Why allows you to get up early, push through that last set, stay late and do one more thing to make you better.  It provides the fuel for your competitive spirit, your joy for winning and your willingness to risk the pain of defeat.

The answer involves more than just one thing.  Know why you love the game.  Know all the goals you want to reach and the rewards that go with them.  You answers will show in how you play the game.

Your foundation for mental strength starts with Why.  But staying poised, intense and focused requires more.  It requires developing a mindset for development.  An attitude focused on learning. Challenging yourself to learn, practice and build the skills to train your brain and find your Optimal Performance Zone every practice, every shift, every game, and every day. 

To find out more about what you are capable of once you know your "why" and how to achieve it, visit us

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