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Tips for Performing Your Best Under Stress

By Hans Skulstad, Center for Sports and the Mind, 04/16/18, 8:00AM CDT


Getting to Natty Camp.  It’s the ultimate goal of the CCM High Performance Program player.  Throughout our relationship with Minnesota Hockey and the HP programs, we have worked with so many players trying to get there.  We understand the stressful nature of the process.  You need your Inner Athlete to get you there.  We know what you need to do to leave it all on the ice so you can be proud of the your effort and your play. 

You know evaluators, coaches, scouts and parents are watching, judging.  You want to keep playing.  The pressure, the stress is unavoidable. If it wasn’t, you would not care.   Handling the stress may make the difference between making it to New York.  Here are some the things to remember as the weekend unfolds.

Tip #1 – Reboot Your Inner Athlete

Rebooting your brain requires getting all parts of your brain talking to each other.  When stressed with tend to think with our “Feeling” brain and resort to poor thinking habits or we lose control.  Here are three ways our athletes reboot.

  • Read and spell the sign – Find a sign on the boards. Read it, spell it and spell backwards.
  • Eye Movements – Without moving your head, move your eyes back and forth from side to side for 6 to 12 times.
  • Count Down from 200 by 7’s and back up. 

Tip #2  – Focus on what you know

The Controllable – Your effort, attitude, body language, your play are in your control. Don’t try to play to what you think everyone is looking for.  What makes a great player is different to everyone watching. If you try to please everyone, you will likely please no one, including yourself.

Trust Your preparation – A tryout is a moment in time.  It’s not career defining.  Take the plays that come. Make confident decisions. Focus on what you know.

Tip #3  – Avoid the following tempting traps

The Wow - Don’t give into the temptation to push for the “wow.” You don’t need to be a super hero.  Evaluators can be wowed by little things. They know how to look for the details. Such as being in the right position, effort, and consistency.

Avoid the Draft – Although it’s tempting, don’t draft the team in your head as you play.  It takes your focus off your play. It creates the illusion of certainty.  Find ways to relax, be intense, but poised.

Tip #4 – Stay in the Moment

It’s the only thing you have some control over right now. You cannot change what has already happened.  You can’t know what’s going to happen in the future.  Keep focused with: WIN -  What’s Important Now.

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