The Mental Side of Sport Performance

The Mental Side of Sport Performance
1. How big a role does physiology play in sport performance?
It can have a significant impact, but a lot depends on the sport. There are positives in it for anybody, but in my opinion it can have a particularly strong impact on a sport such as golf where so much of it is mental.  Sports like hockey are football are reactionary so its effect, while significant, may not be as dramatic.
2. Did you or any of the guys you played with work with Sports Psychologists?
I never had any one personally, but that’s not to say I don’t think it could have a big impact. More is
available to today’s player and I’m a big supporter of anything that can give guys that “extra edge”. Preparation is huge and this can help players with their preparation.
3. What were some of your goals as a young athlete?

 For any Canadian born hockey player, their goal is to play in the NHL and I was no different.  This goal was first and foremost in my mind and every time I skated as a kid, that was what I was striving for.  Growing up, I was always playing and thinking about hockey.  “I think a huge thing is to dream big – playing in the NHL was a big dream and I achieved it.” I also focused on getting better each and every year.  I would focus on my game as a whole.  You work hard every day at your craft. “When your practice something everyday you get better at it.”

You should be getting smarter and better every year. Work on whatever part of your game that can make you better.  You have to have that desire to compete and win at all costs.  “I would take a guy with a ton of heart, over a guy who was just talent.  A lot of skilled players simply don’t know what it takes to win.”

Look at Wayne Gretzky, he was not very big, he wasn’t the fastest guy and didn’t have the hardest shot, but his determination and heart were off the chart and he became arguably the greatest player of all time.

 4. Did you ever try any different visualization techniques when you were playing?

As mentioned previously, I think golf lends itself more to this.  You are trying to visualize a specific shot.  I think a big part of hockey is the physical preparation; ingraining those habits and skills.  Having said that, I would definitely review the goalies and players I’m going against. I would prepare for the goalies strengths and weaknesses – if he was a goalie who went down a lot, I would prepare to shoot the puck high. If they had a big tough defenseman aka Scott Stevens – I knew I better keep my head up that night.

 5. What were some of your game day rituals?

I had the same ritual for regular season and playoffs games; morning skate on the day off, the game 10am at home, and 11:30am on road.  Sometimes there would be a meeting after morning skate. I would then review my notes and sleep from 2pm to 4pm.  I would also use a new stick every game and always taped my own stick.

 6. How did you unwind after a bad game?

One of the best lessons I ever learned was from the Great Pat Quinn. When I first got to LA, I took losses real bad. I never drank, but I was pretty miserable to be around after a bad game. Pat said, “you leave the game at the rink. Learn from it, but don’t take it home with you. The next day, wake up and prepare for the next game.” This is great advice for other sports and life.  In golf you have a bad hole, leave it behind you.  Your next shot is your most important shot.

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