How To Mentally Prepare For Hockey Tryouts

How To Mentally Prepare For Hockey Tryouts

Tryouts can be a stressful time for many athletes. Players can feel anxious, nervous, and just plain scared. Instead of falling into those emotional traps, you can form a plan to perform consistently and confidently under pressure.

Many athletes ask, “How do I prepare for tryouts?

The secret to performing your best under pressure is all about your mental toughness! If you don’t have a mental plan, you’ll lose your confidence and get too nervous to play to your potential. So here are seven ways to mentally prepare so you can perform during tryouts.


1. Visualize

Use visualization to prepare yourself mentally before hockey tryouts. Imagine each part of the tryout, and play through the situations in your head. As you visualize the tryout, know what you will do before each drill or play happens. Imagine completing each move in your head perfectly. 

Visualization is an underused tool for improving your game because the way we learn is by watching. Once we see something, we picture ourselves doing it, and then we can put it into action. When you visualize how you want to perform, you’re overlearning the skill and programming yourself to play with more confidence.

So when a high-pressure moment arrives, like tryouts, you will know what to do and feel confident. 


2. Change Your Perspective

This might sound weird given how much pressure you’re feeling at a tryout, but you want to embrace the pressure and the challenge in front of you! 

Instead of viewing the pressure of a tryout as a threat, view it as an opportunity. Research shows that players that see stress as a challenge and opportunity to be the best version of themselves feel excited and perform better. So the moment you don’t feel excited about the opportunity, the pressure becomes an obstacle and makes you tense.

You want to try to enjoy everything about the tryouts! You want to have fun! If you’re having fun, you’ll stay loose and relaxed, which is the only way you will play great hockey. So, while you prep for tryouts, stay away from putting all kinds of pressure on yourself and getting so serious. 


3. Make A Plan To Succeed

Success is achieved through preparation and planning. Make sure you have done all you can do both on and off the ice to prepare yourself for tryouts. Create your own mental preparation process for tryouts, practices, and games to move you closer to your dream and mission. 

Before hockey tryouts, you can build and write out routines for your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual capacities. What are you doing in each of those categories to prepare? Set aside time for each category so that you can be prepared for your tryouts. Planning your routine will also eliminate the worries, fears, anxieties, and obstacles that are a part of life and hockey.


4. Park It

On the day of tryouts, you’re going to need to park thoughts and life challenges that could distract you. Using the “park it” method helps you set aside distracting thoughts and focus on what matters most.

Every player should have a specific cue to leave everything else behind and direct their attention to playing. It could be as soon as you step off the bus, you park everything on that bus. Parking those external thoughts will help you dial in and focus on your hockey tryout. 

When you’re confronted with a distracting thought, park that thought and revisit it later. By parking your thoughts, you are more focused and attentive to the present.


5. Stay In The Here and Now

You’re focused on something all the time. But are you on a channel that’s productive and helpful? Are you focused on the moment, on the here and now? Or have you drifted to the past or future?

A common mental trap that hockey players fall into during tryouts is to allow their focus to jump ahead to the future and whether they’ll make the team. Your best performance on the ice is when you’re focused on the here and now – you’re trusting yourself. If you’re caught up in the future or past, you’re not trusting yourself on the ice. 

Instead, discipline yourself to keep your concentration on what is happening at this moment on the ice. Take it one moment, and one shift at a time! Focus on what you can execute, to keep yourself dialed into the game. 


6. Focus on the Process, Not Results.

There are two things you can control, your actions and your attitude. You have the power to control your actions and how you’re seeing the game and believing in yourself. 

During tryouts and the hockey season, remember that you can’t control the result of the game. You can do all the actions to the best of your ability, and the other team could be incredible and win anyways. Instead, focus on controlling what is in your power to control. 

When you mess up during the tryouts, which is normal, don’t emotionally beat yourself up! Leave the mistake in the past where it belongs and move your focus on to the next play. The time to work on your mistakes is never when you’re under performance pressure and always when you’re relaxed and in practice. Keep in mind that during tryouts, your mistakes aren’t the problem. The problem is how you respond to them. Stay in the now. Leave your mistakes in the past!


7. Remember Hockey Isn’t Your Identity

The identity of who you are is not tied to your performance. When you reference yourself as a hockey player, it’s not who you are. We’re tricking our minds, and when that identity is threatened, it creates fear and anxiety. 

Every hockey player on the planet struggles with their confidence at times; it doesn’t matter what level of hockey you are playing. So when you face moments that didn’t work out, know that those moments do not define you or your value.

Over your hockey career, you will have many successes and failures. While both are important to your development as an athlete, your identity is bigger than how you play on the ice. 

So keep the tryout in perspective. If it doesn’t go the way you’d hoped, then find out what you did wrong and work on changing it for the next time! 

5 Words Every Hockey Player Needs To Hear

5 Words Every Hockey Player Needs To Hear

You gotta want it! Show them you have a little heart.”


“Great job!”

“Better luck next time.”

Those are just a few shouts from the parents watching hockey games around me. I used to be that parent, thinking I was helping by coaching and critiquing during and after games.

When I would say to my son after the game “great job,” what was I really saying?

I started to think about this language, and I started to reflect on what kids want. Well, what would I want? When I was their age, I wanted my parents to tell me they loved me and backed up their words by spending time with me. 

As I continue to reflect on “great job,” I realized I had been saying, “I liked how you performed. I liked how you scored or had an assist or hustled.” But what did his coach say about his performance? Was it the same as what I was saying?

As I continued to reflect on the phrase “great job,” I felt even more convicted by the confusion I was creating. I found myself in competition with the coach. I didn’t know the coaches’ feedback or my son’s feedback to the coach. I was in a vacuum, but I said “great job” anyway. 

After further thought, I realized my son had his own perspective and thoughts about his game or practice. I didn’t ask about his thoughts, I had no empathy so I just said “great job.” And after all this thinking and processing about the words “great job,” I landed on how complicated and confusing the phrase was to my son. And, more importantly, I was driving a wedge in our relationship.  

So what words could I use to bond us together, and wouldn’t compete with his mindshare on performance? After reflecting, I found, “I love watching you play.” 

Coaches Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller conducted a survey where “college athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, amplifying their joy during and after a game. Their overwhelming response: ‘I love watching you play.‘”

“Watching” is the Key Word

Watching is being present and engaged. See the good. See the bad. Just see all of it!

Watching does not mean coaching from the sideline. It does not mean continually critiquing or second-guessing. It means simply being present, engaged, and attentive, so when they ask, “Were you watching when…?” you can say yes!

Many athletes indicated that parental actions and conversations after games made them feel as though their value and worth in their parents’ eyes were tied to their athletic performance and the wins and losses of their team.


Being Present & Praising

When it comes to our kids’ sporting events, I see many parents watching every practice or attending every game. But rarely are parents fully present. They are watching through the lens of a camera. Or the parents are staring at their screen instead of their child. 

What a son or daughter needs and what they will remember is their parent’s presence. They need to know you notice them. They need to see an example of what it means to be attentive and present. We set that example with our actions.

More importantly, if we want a strong relationship, our children need to know we have their backs and that we aren’t their critics. And when we are present, we can build trust and encourage players. “I love watching you play” are the sweetest feeling words a parent can say to their child playing any sport.

Taking the time to praise them, and not their performance acts as positive reinforcement. Research shows that people perform best when they get five pieces of positive reinforcement for every one correction or critique

That is why we must be intentional about the things we do when watching our kids play, especially when we are coaching them. We need to remember that we can simply say, “I love watching you play.”


“I love watching you play,” says, “I don’t care about your performance.” 

“I love watching you play,” says, “I don’t care if you messed up.” 

“I love watching you play,” tells your child that you value the time we spend together around this sport. 


When you say “I love watching you play,” as a parent, you’re actively building trust, which can bond you both to the sport forever.

5 Things Hockey Players Need to Do in the Off-Season

5 Things Hockey Players Need to Do in the Off-Season

As the hockey season comes to a close, it’s time for athletes to start thinking about what they will do in the off-season. The off-season is the ideal time to physically and mentally recover and focus on training to improve your performance for the next season. Here are 5 things you should be doing to make the upcoming season your best yet!


1. Perform a Good, Better, Best Evaluation

The off-season is a great time to evaluate opportunities for improvement. Knowing where you can improve will make you stronger in the new season. What were you good at, and what helped you be good? After you answer that question, use your answers to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be. 

Mistakes and setbacks happen. It’s essential to not hold onto shortcomings and instead look ahead to the new season with positivity. Getting advice from coaches and identify areas that could be better, so you are aware of specific changes you need to make.

Click here to download MTT's Good Better Best Assessment

2. Set Goals

In the off–season, players can keep a personal agenda, planner, or calendar for being accountable. This includes goal–setting. What do players hope to achieve in their off–season? The regular season?

Process goals are based on what you’re going to do. These goals are actions you can control on the ice: moving to the puck, getting to the net. Outcome goals are the outcome, like winning the game. When it comes to mental toughness, it’s better to have process goals. You can’t control the result of the game. You can do all the actions to the best of your ability, and the other team could be incredible and win anyways. With process goals, you focus on controlling what is in your power to control.  

Goal-setting helps players stay focused and encourages players to track their progress over extended periods. Players can hang their goals in a visible place, like a fridge door or taped to a mirror.


3. Get Motivated

Read books from successful players, teams, and others who endured hardships. Watch documentaries, videos of amazing plays, and anything else that inspires you. These stories will inspire and motivate you to keep moving towards your vision.

Remember your vision and mission, and keep building the steps you need to take to achieve them.  What is your dream? What are you aspiring to become? Your vision answers these questions, it’s inspirational, and it gives you a target to continually work towards. 


4. Make A Commitment 

Too many hockey players want the result but don’t want to commit to the process. There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going. This is the battle that many athletes face, and you need to start getting serious and commit to a growth mindset. 

Every day you’re going to run into new challenges; this is inevitable. But with a growth mindset, these challenges are new opportunities to grow, learn, and improve.

With a growth mindset, you believe that talent can be developed if you work hard, stick with it, and train. It’s wanting to be the best version of yourself and taking steps to improve continuously.

Every time a challenge is thrown at you this off-season, you will overcome it by simply taking a step to improve. This “one more step” mentality builds your confidence, and it makes the next challenge just a little bit easier to get through. When you commit to this growth and opportunity mindset, you’ll be able to face anything on and off the ice. 


5. Relax

This is the time to visit friends and families who were neglected during the regular season. Spend some time creating memories and document those experiences with a camera or journal. Try to avoid anything hockey related for a bit.

Take time for self-care, which can be any activity that you do just because it puts you in a good mental place, like running, or listening to music.


When you step onto the ice at the end of the summer, you will be confident, mentally prepared, and ready to crush your season goals. 

Click here to learn more about our mental toughness for hockey training programs and become the best version of yourself. 

Use Mental Preparation to Perform More Consistently

How to Use Mental Preparation to Perform More Consistently

Have you ever wondered why one day you play a great game of hockey, but then the next game you start to doubt yourself, lose your confidence or get frustrated because you’re not playing to the best of your ability?

Sometimes you bring your A-game, and other times, it feels like you’ve lost that ability, and you start to second guess yourself. This back and forth can be pretty frustrating because you know you’re not performing your best consistently, but you have no idea why or how to change it.

You’re looking for consistency. 


Consistency is what all athletes strive to achieve. But every hockey player will have good days and bad days… It’s inevitable!

If this is true, does that mean we can never be consistent on the ice?

That depends on your definition of consistency. Do you define consistency in terms of effort or results?

If you define consistency in terms of wins or the change in stats, you will be left disappointed. This definition of consistency does not take into account a whole host of factors that are outside your direct control, like:

  • Team lineup
  • Sickness and injuries
  • How many games you played that week
  • Playing style of the opposing team
  • How your team plays as a unit


What consistency really comes down to is the consistency of mental and physical preparation and consistency of effort. 

Without mental preparation, you have little hope of being consistent on the ice.


Mentally Prepare With Routines

Consistency is when you keep things simple and clear and have a routine for being the best version of yourself. 

To achieve consistency, you need to redefine consistency in realistic, personal terms. Once you define consistency for yourself, you can identify effective strategies to mentally approach and prepare for competitions and practices.

Click here to download MTT's workweek snapshot

With this PDF, you can build and write out routines for your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual capacities. What are you doing in each of those categories to prepare? 

Improve Consistency

Consistent mental preparation leads to consistent performance. So, you need to pay particular attention to your mental toughness and preparation plan.

Approach every practice as if it was a game, starting from the time you step into the locker room. Be consistent in your effort and focus for every drill, every skate around, and every scrimmage. Consistent mental preparation leads to consistent performance.

As you build out your routine, think about what will help you mentally prepare for each practice or game.

When is a good time to review videos, talk to your coach, or tape your stick? Will you use imagery while you stretch? What’s the best time to start physically warming up? 

When you find a game-day routine, following it helps you feel ready to go mentally and physically. Consistency in your routine will help remove doubt and other obstacles, making your performance more consistent.


Day by Day

When you create your routine for the week, set aside time to revisit your last game and prepare for the next. Some players may close the chapter on the previous game over the weekend, and some may take Monday and Tuesday to do their post-game analysis. Then the rest of the week is focused on preparing and front-loading for the upcoming game.

It’s all about finding a routine that works for you and that you can consistently follow. 

If you remain consistent and perform the required actions every day to be the best hockey player you can be, things may not change in the beginning. But if you keep up these everyday actions, one day passes, two days pass, one week passes, six months pass — then by the time you reach these higher numbers, it will be of no surprise to the world that your accumulated actions have created something much bigger for you.

As mentally tough athletes, our performance goal should be consistency and at full speed, even under pressure, no matter the circumstances, and in the most significant moments. If we can prepare properly and approach each situation with confidence and focus, we’ve got a great chance of being successful on a consistent basis.

7 Habits of High Performing Hockey Players

7 Habits of High Performing Hockey Players

Success leaves clues. If you want to be exceptional, find out what the best of the best do, and learn from them. We’ll cover clues that success leaves and the habits of high performing hockey players including:

1. Own Your Development

For Super Dave, he had no path and no guidance. He was simply bored and practiced shots, but didn’t have a plan to own his hockey development. 

Are you in the same position? Have you had success from trial and error and developed over time? 

Most players will experiment, but that process might take a long time. With MTT, you have a blueprint that speeds up that process. You can improve on your own, or you can get better more quickly with a coach who knows what he’s doing and giving you feedback. High-level athletes own their development. They aren’t waiting for a parent or coach to tell them what to work on; they take responsibility. But is something holding you back from owning your development?

2. Have an Opportunity Growth Mindset

With a growth mindset, you believe that talent can be developed if you work hard, stick with it, and train. It’s about viewing challenges as an opportunity. It’s wanting to be the best version of yourself and taking steps to improve continuously.

No matter how confident they become, highly-confident hockey players always respect those around them, listen to their constructive criticism, and use it as a chance to improve.

Every ounce of feedback—no matter how big or small—is a chance to grow and improve.

Your coaching staff, your parents, your teammates may not always be right, but if they share feedback with you, it’s worth your while to listen. If several people notice a part of your game that needs work, chances are it does. And then that feedback becomes another opportunity to learn, get better, and continue to improve.


3. Play With Vision and Clarity

High-level athletes have a vision of where they want to be, and that vision shapes their actions. 

There are so many distractions out there, from social media to peer pressure. Do you have the vision and clarity to maintain your focus during practice and games?

For Super Dave, he didn’t want to stay in his hometown; he wanted to do something bigger. He realized that hockey could be the vehicle to reach his goal for something bigger. 

Part of having a vision for high-level athletes is having clarity in their purpose and in the way they want to play. They know where they’re headed. 

When you’re training and playing, high-performing hockey players’ efforts are deliberate because they have a vision of something in the future. They don’t go out to practice and go through motions; they’re intentional and purposeful. 

4. Focus

There is a long term process to focus over time, and high-level athletes have a plan staying focused on the present. By having a plan and practicing to keep their minds where it needs to be, players’ plans become part of who they are. After practicing, they know how to respond when they get distracted.

Hockey players should learn to tune out distractions and perform irrespective of the crowd’s response. Players must be able to focus on finishing the game in a professional manner and not let past upsets get in the way of upcoming games. Additionally, players don’t fixate on recent wins. They constantly are evolving and moving forward with a focus on executing all the techniques and skills that were taught in previous practices.


5. Manage Emotions

Top hockey players know how to manage their emotions and bring their minds back to productive emotions and recharging during a tough time.  

As a hockey player, emotions are powerful; you want to harness them. Use them; don’t lose them. 

When we have low emotional intelligence, we’re blinded by emotions and reacting to what happens around us. But, if you take a step back, you can see your emotions and all the things around you – the puck, the play, the players. You don’t want to be blinded by your emotions; you want to learn to recognize them. 

Are you a slave to your emotions? Here are 6 warning signs you might be.

6. Develop Confidence

True confidence — compared to the false confidence people project to mask their insecurities — has a look all its own. Mentally tough players have the upper hand over the players who feel overwhelmed with doubt because their confidence inspires others and helps them to make things happen.


7. Prepare and Plan

High performing hockey players know that having a plan and preparing before they step onto the ice are the best ways to be the best version of themselves.

From putting in work in the gym and on the ice to working on their hockey sense and improving your mental game, the more players prepare, the more ready they feel to perform.

By doing everything possible to prepare for the struggles and challenges ahead, you’ll be much more confident in any given situation.

There you have it: 7 of the most common habits of high performing hockey players. By intentionally adding these habits to your routine, you will develop a clear, effective, and evidence-based mental preparation plan for your long-term development and game-time execution.

Plan To Win

Plan To Win

Several years ago I was on the bench coaching my team, and I screamed


But the young, athletic, fully-aware player did not shoot the puck.

The whistle blew, and the player came to the bench, and I asked him why he didn’t shoot the puck. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know.”

I reflected on that moment for weeks, because I knew the player had the ability, I knew he had great hockey IQ, he was a leader on the team, respected in the locker room, and he knew it was the right decision for that moment. Yet he didn’t shoot the puck. He didn’t shoot the puck… for weeks I wrestled with understanding his response.

Why didn’t he shoot the puck?

As I was raking leaves in my backyard, reflecting, doing my gap analysis(debrief). It hit me. It was a bad expectation. I didn’t put him in a proper training scenario throughout the weeks leading up to that moment.

It was I, the fearless, experienced coach who has been around hockey for three decades, played pro, and coached for over 15 years. I was the coach who planned the practice each week and talked to parents weekly about their child’s development.

Yes, it was on me!

I didn’t set the pace in practice leading up to that moment. I had asked the player an unfair question and put unreasonable expectations on him. He didn’t shoot because he wasn’t trained!

That revelation was so exciting! So, in the days to come, I began to unpack the situation. He did not perform in that moment because he was not prepared to win. My expectation did not meet his practice repetition – which I control – routine, and overall preparedness. My question was unfair.

As I continued to reflect on that unfair moment, I realized that I was the one who needed to be a better leader. And being a better leader didn’t mean putting more pressure on my players to play better or “dig deeper”. In fact, asking more out of my players was being extremely insensitive and poor coaching. They didn’t have the training to play at the upper ranges of their ability in the biggest moments because of me.

How dare I put this kind of pressure on them!

Honestly, I felt ashamed. I apologized to the players and parents, and then I went to work!

I realized I needed to set better expectations for myself and my team. This means I need to understand what I wanted the team and individual players to become, I needed to set the vision, mission, and communicate with them their role on the team. I wanted them to compete, so I needed to set the competition tone in the practice plans, I need to show them on video what it means to compete and never give up. I needed to set the pace in all areas of what I wanted them to do show them, practice with them, and repeat the process…I need to lead at a granular level with a tremendous amount of repetition, and I knew I needed to make if fun.

If I wanted my defense to move the puck north, and south then I needed to show them. We should practice moving the puck north and south; and then show them video of pro players moving the puck north and south; then practice it again and again; and talk to them outside the rink before practice and after practice about their concerns.

Whatever skills I wanted them to develop, as a coach I needed to give them opportunities to learn, practice, and perfect those skills, so that they could perform consistently when they’re under pressure. Once the consistency was there I began to slowly add different types of pressure

When I thought about my goals for the team, I wanted them to become the best version of themselves; I wanted them to be confident, I wanted them to have a routine, and most importantly, I wanted them to have fun.

With my goals in mind, I wanted to help my players for a plan for everything: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. A plan that helped my players have a vision, manage their emotions by zone, have confidence, and use their five senses. A plan to help them deal with doubt, anxiety, and fear. I knew we both needed targets for practice, a plan for adversity, I knew we both needed a post-game and practice debrief time and venue. Ultimately we needed a plan.

I knew if I wasn’t willing to put these pieces in place, then I could never put any expectations on my players and team.

I realized I couldn’t just say, “Why are you not mentally prepared?” or “Hey, you need to come to the rink in better metabolic conditioning?” or “You need to skate faster!” or throw out bombshell insults like “dig deeper, you are soft, or step up when the going gets tough

How could I put those expectations on a player when there is no plan?

It’s unfair and disrespectful to players and parents, so I rolled up my sleeves and started asking questions

I researched and asked questions to nutritional professionals. I started asking questions to my  Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCS) friends about proper conditioning. And I started asking questions to people smarter than me about hockey.

And I think most importantly, I began to ask mental preparation and toughness questions to sports psych professionals. I had a path, and I was super pumped about it.

Preparing my players and team to play at the upper ranges of their ability consistently in the biggest moment was going to take more focused development on my part. Yes, my players need to buy in and work hard, but I realized all the heavy lifting was on me, their coach.

Improving Your Performance with Music

Improving Your Performance with Music

Listening to music doesn’t just relieve boredom — it can help improve the quality of your performance. Music can transform how you feel about training and what you get out of it. Here are 5 ways music can help you become the best version of yourself during a workout. 

Increase Speed

Have you ever started listening to a song that makes you want to dance? Most people have an instinct to synchronize their movements to the music they’re listening to, from a simple head nod to a tap of the toes. You can sync your activity with the music you listen to. 

By listening to an upbeat song, you can pick up your pace, whether you’re riding a bike, walking around your neighborhood, or completing intense conditioning. Even if you aren’t matching your movement precisely to the beat, you’ll still go faster to more energetic music.

Mood Booster

Not only is exercise going to feel easier when you listen to music, but you’re also going to enjoy it more! This is true no matter the speed of the music – play the music you like, and you’ll have a better time! The lyrics or catchy rhythm of mood-boosting music inspires you to exercise longer or work harder during your exercise routine.

More Power

No matter what activity you’re doing, music’s impact can be felt whether you’re doing cardio or resistance work. Researchers found that people who played music during strength training were able to squat jump with more force and velocity than the people who didn’t listen to music. What’s something you’re practicing that could use more power? Add some upbeat music next time and feel the difference.


Feel like you’re out of energy? Ready to give up? When you play music before and during a workout can put you in the right mindset and boost the odds of you performing well. Listening to a song that has a strong, steady beat, you can train to the beat of that music, which tends to feel satisfying and encourage you to push through and exercise more. 

Workouts Feel Easier

Playing music makes strenuous physical activities less exhausting. Why not harness the power of music when you exercise? Studies have found that if music is playing, your workout will feel easier, even if you’re pushing yourself harder than usual. The theory is that your brain has limited attention, and music is taking up some of that, you have less to devote to how tough the workout feels.

Picking Your Playlist

Scientific studies suggest that the ideal range of music tempo for exercise is 125 to 140 beats per minute. No matter the style or inspiration, music at specific beats per minute can influence and athlete in a 15% increase or decrease in performance.

Looking for a head start on your playlist? We’ve got you covered. Check out MTT’s Training Playlist below.

Hockey Emotions

6 Warning Signs You're A Slave to Your Emotions

6 Warning Signs You're A Slave to Your Emotions

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them and to dominate them.” Oscar Wilde.

It is very natural to be self-centered, especially when you are mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually depleted. Our emotions have a significant impact and power over our choices and actions, and we can either become a master or a slave to them.

When you’re a slave to your emotions, you live in the now, see issues through the lens of yourself, are not rational, and are generally not pleasant to be around.

Here are 6 warning signs that you have become a slave to your emotions. If any of these 6 items apply to you, then it may be time to make adjustments to how you are thinking and reacting to certain situations.

1. You rarely think about others and only think about your own concerns and interests

Though this may come and goes in phases, but you generally only think about how situations affect you and your life. You are easily angered and have never heard of the word empathy– and certainly, don’t understand its definition. 

2. You rarely think before you speak

First of all, speaking the first things that come to mind is a terrible idea. Validate your emotions first, before you speak. Use the acronym H.A.L.T. If you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, you are more likely to be a slave to your emotions and say or do something you might regret. When you validate your emotions, you become more aware and accepting of them. Becoming aware of thinking before you speak is the first step in becoming a master of our emotions.

3. You campaign to get people on your side when you immediately speak your mind

When you immediately speak your mind, you may feel amazing, but you also may have remorse for days following your outburst. Extreme levels of regret is often a sign that you are a slave to your emotions, and it’s a coping mechanism to recruit a friend or family member to relate to your side of the story. When you are slave to your emotions, you frequently act in ways that let yourself down. To make matters worse, you tend to drag a friend down with you, because being insecure is a lonely place.

4. Your actions don’t help your situation or the people around you

In a sporting environment, everything intensifies. Emotional slavery ends up manifesting in ways that spread their negative emotions to others like a virus. When you do not act with responsibility, there is shame, anxiety, and stress. Your loved ones are left with a wake of devastation, and you become hard to manage and generally don’t feel good. Fear, lust, anger, and pride rise up as defensive mechanisms. Id, ego, and superego are on red alert. 

5. You are stressed and have trouble sleeping

Emotional slavery is exhausting. Feelings of regret and shame are by-products of the sympathetic nervous system and brain waves creating energy. The fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system creates energy, and this energy to fight or flight keeps you up at night. Thus, thinking about how to solve your regret keeps you up at night. Sometimes emotional slavery is not knowing how to express yourself at all and just suppressing your emotions. This also contributes to stress and lack of sleep.

If you often toss and turn at night, unsatisfied with your relationships with those around you, it may indicate that you need to communicate your emotions with them in a healthy manner.

Becoming a master of your emotions doesn’t mean you are stoic or emotionless – it means you know how to communicate your emotions in a constructive situation that’s productive for both parties. Without a healthy and balanced method of expression, there will be emotional residue at the end of the day, from either too much or too little expression of how you feel.

6. You take criticism as a personal attack and don’t like change

Ineffective and effective behavior happens every second of every day. Everyone is susceptible to becoming a slave to their emotions. The only perfect person to walk this planet was Jesus, and you are not Him. 

Becoming a master to your emotions requires change. Becoming a master to your emotions requires you to embrace faith, let go of some of your fears, not react so quickly to situations, and have increased levels of empathy and awareness. If you don’t take every situation personally and you embrace change, your outbursts will become less frequent and less intense.

One central concept in emotional intelligence is finding a balance between your rational and thinking mind vs. your impulsive and feeling mind. When you learn how to use both of these appropriately, then you have mastered our emotions, instead of being enslaved to them.


Are you a slave to your emotions? Will you respond differently now that you know what it means to be slave to your emotions?

“Control the young thoughts and become a master of your emotions” Dave Jones, Sports Psychology Coach

Brady the Hot Head

Brady the Hot Head

We have all heard coaches say, “You need to be more mentally prepared for the game.” 

What exactly does that mean? How do you prepare for your game 7 days prior to game day, 3 days prior, or on game day? 

The following provides all the tools necessary to become mentally prepared for every game this season. 

Playing competitive hockey requires a high level of Emotional Intelligence (EI). Maintaining a high EI requires mental toughness and hockey intelligence on and off the ice. Most of us have witnessed a player making a decision to be hockey tough for the team or their ego. Without high EI, these hard decisions will often do more harm than good for the individual and the team’s emotional state.

A key to playing tough, smart, and maintaining high EI is having focus, discipline, and emotional control. Emotional control and discipline go hand in hand. 

We have all experienced or watched this story: 

Brady had played hockey his whole life. He was not a fast defenseman, but he had great positioning and a hard slap shot. Everyone liked Brady but sometimes (when we were losing, didn’t matter if it was the 1st or 3rd period) he would get of out of control, slashing or punching players that would get close to his goaltender. Brady looked like he was in control, but as the conflict and pressure got tougher, he would start to lose it. Brady would consistently get penalties, game after game. In the 1st period of the game, his team was down 2-0. Brady was slashed in front of his own net, and he retaliated. Off to the box, as parents and fans sigh, “Brady is going to the box…again.”

One minute into Brady’s penalty, the other team scores on a power-play goal. Brady took two strides out of the penalty box and starts chirping the ref for helping the other team score. The ref doesn’t tolerate the chirping and Brady goes right back into the penalty box for 10-minute misconduct. Brady is officially in a Low EI state. Three shifts after Brady is out from his misconduct he gets another penalty. This time, he snaps and starts punching a player. Now he is in the sin bin for a five-minute major. The team is not in a position to win, and Brady has lost all control as he cements his Low EI state. High EI means not allowing your emotions( Right Brain) to override your focus (Left Brain). 

Playing hockey with High EI means we are playing unselfish hockey. It means we are team-focused, practicing self-discipline, and doing what is in the best interest of the team. Real strength means not responding to every bad call by the ref or getting upset with the coach because you are not on the PK or PP. Being mentally strong requires a clear focus and actions of purpose, emotional intelligence, and hockey intelligence. Being mentally strong means you are in control of your emotions. High EI helps teams win games in the face of challenges and adversity. You are not the challenge and adversity; rather, you can be the blessing in a challenge or adversity. When confronted with emotions such as negativity, frustration, or anger, you have the choice of maintaining focus on the right hockey play and controlling your emotions to be hockey tough. 

So, how do you become mentally tough? It all starts with proper mental preparation. Let’s begin to untangle how to mentally prepare by evaluating weekly routines and rituals leading up to game day.