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!