According to Dr. Saul Miller, author of “The Complete Player” and “Hockey Tough” there are three key operating principles for managing the mind effectively.
His first principle is the mind is like a TV that is always on thinking thoughts creating images and feelings. This mental TV is controlled by the individual who has the ability to “change the channel” when thoughts become negative. If the goalie begins to doubt himself he needs to “change the channel” and visualize he is at the top of the crease making great saves.
Miller’s second principal of managing the mind is a player gets more of what they think about. Whatever we focus on becomes magnified while everything else is downplayed by the mind. If the goalie is worried about failing, his anxiety increases leading to negative thoughts and poor performance. A goalie sitting in the crease worried about a specific player on the other team or whether he can lead his team to victory will increase the likelihood of a poor performance.
Instead, if the goalie concentrates what he what he wants to do on the ice (quick crisp movement, aggressive positioning, making key saves and crisp passes to teammates), the chances of positive results increase. It is vital goalies battle their human nature of negative thinking and think positive thoughts to put a “power” program into their mental TV.
The third principle of managing the hockey mind is “our feelings affect our thoughts and our thoughts affect our feelings.” This explains why players who know they need to think positively still can get trapped in negative thoughts. This boils down to the way humans are “wired” through our nervous system. Every human feeling is accompanied with a thought. If the feelings experienced are uncertainly, pain, confusion, the thoughts tend to be stress-inducing which affects performance. Negative, limited feelings produce negative, limited thinking which, in turn, feeds back to create a negative loop that can be a trap, know as a “slump” Of course the opposite is true – feelings of power, strength, and energy lead to more positive thoughts which lead to more confidence and better chances of success.
Next Goalie Management 101 entry will build on this blog post and focus how to integrate the mind and body to create a state where the goalie can perform his best.