4 Ways to Get in the Zone for the BIG Game
All serious hockey players need to consider how they present themselves to different scouting agencies. Evaluators are looking for the whole package; not players who shine in one single area.
To make sure you’re seen, you’ll need to continually refine your skills and strengths, character, and hockey sense. Keep reading to find out more.
Skills and Strength
You’ve practiced and practiced, but for some reason, you still get that pit in your stomach before an important game.
Even the most incredible players, like Wayne Gretzky and Paul Bissonnette (yes, we just put the Great One and BizNasty in the same sentence), can get what’s commonly called pre-game anxiety or game-day nerves. This refers to when a player experiences symptoms like dry mouth, shaking legs, racing thoughts, and a pounding heartbeat right before it’s game time.
This is an entirely normal way to feel, but it’s also unpleasant and can mess up your performance. Keep reading if you’re amping up for a particularly important game, evaluation, or tournament.
We have 4 tips to get you in the zone and out of your own head.
#1 Let Go of Your Expectations
You’ve already done the work. You’ve put in the hours. You’re as ready as you’re going to be for this game. Let go of your expectations on how you should perform and what winning will mean.
Instead, focus on what’s happening right now. As soon as your thoughts go down some other avenue, like “we’re never going to get to playoffs,” redirect your thoughts by focusing on the current play.
#2 Focus on your Breathing
That might seem silly, breathing is an automatic thing, but you’d be surprised by how often you’re holding your breath. Irregular breathing can lead to anxiety and even mess with your game.
Find a breathing technique that works for you. We recommend box breathing. This technique is used by soldiers around the world and is super simple.
- Breathe IN through your nose for a count of 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for a count of 4 seconds.
- Breathe OUT your mouth for a count of 4 seconds.
- Hold for another 4 seconds.
#3 Establish a Pre-Game Routine
Rituals and routines help signal our bodies to get into a certain state. If you get anxious before a game, you should try finding a routine that signals your body to calm down.
There are many ways you can do this, but you need to find something that works for you and doesn’t get boring. In other words? Find something you enjoy doing, over and over again.
Some players get in the zone by blasting the music, cooking a meal, taking a long shower, soaking in the tub, or running through one more play.
Before every game, Stephen Curry of the Warriors will touch his tattoo of his wife, likely to remind himself of one of the most important reasons he plays.
PRO TIP: Don’t underestimate the power of rituals DURING a game either. If you’re about to take an important shot, find a way to ground yourself.
#4 Get to the Root
Your pre-game anxiety might be linked to some deeper issues that need your attention. If you think your anxiety could be linked to bigger things, start by talking to your doctor. There are plenty of solutions to your feelings; it just takes that first step to make all the difference.