Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Last Post on the Hockey Edge Blog

To readers of the Hockey Edge Blog...
This will be my last post on the Hockey Edge Blog. I appreciate you reading the posts and giving comments. I hope you found the posts to be informative and interesting.
I have decided to take a new path, I have left Michigan State University and I am closing my consulting business. I have accepted the Mental Skills Specialist position with the United States Tennis Association Player Development department. I will spend almost all of my time consulting and working with world-class tennis players and coaches. For this new position I will move to Boca Raton, Florida to the USTA PD headquarters.
Due to the need to focus 100% on the needs of our American coaches and tennis players from professional to junior I will no longer be consulting with hockey nor writing about it in blogs and the Hockey Edge newsletter. This obviously was a big decision, I am very passionate about hockey and helping those in the game. While I will no longer be contributing my insights in the blog world you can trust that I will be following the game closely, and always feel free to reach out for assistance or just to say hi.

I wish you the best in your hockey endeavors, and in life. Keep supporting the great game of hockey by doing what you do!



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Minnesota Hockey: 4 Ways to Make Morning Practices Easier

Do you have trouble getting your child awake and to hockey games on the weekend? Susan Caminiti, writing for Minnesota Hockey website, provides four ways to make it easier.

Minnesota Hockey: 4 Ways to Make Morning Practices Easier

In the article she quotes me several times from a different article. I think there are some very practical suggestions (and not just mine) that can help you. I know from being a parent of a four and five-year-old that getting them up for school is tough enough. You do not want to have struggles on the weekend, too.

In summary, you can make morning practices easier by: 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hockey Edge Newsletter: Psychological Recovery from Injury

This post comes from Dr. Dana Voelker sport psychology consultant and professor at Brockport State University.  Dr. Voelker provides a great recap of her own injury experience and what both players and coaches can expect.

My Injury Experience

I have always loved ice hockey and was fortunate enough to have played for the Penn State Lady Icers between 2003 and 2007. During all my years in competitive sport, I never sustained an injury that completely rocked my world. I had come out of years of lifting, running, mountain biking, skiing, competitive figure skating, and ice hockey without any major injuries – lucky me. Unfortunately, that came to an end a year following my last season at Penn State while instructing a college hockey class at Michigan State. What an unlikely scenario.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Avoid Outbursts to Save Your Pride - Something all Players Should Understand (Post 3 of 10)

How many times have you seen it? A player loses the puck or his man. The other team scores and the player at fault skates towards the bench with his head down. He then in frustration slams his stick off the boards making a load, echoing noise that catches the attention of everyone in the rink.

What do you think people watching this player think? Sometimes they think that he needs to grow up or is a hot head. At the same time, those same people would probably say that the player cares greatly about the game, and that they will take that passion over the player that does not show his emotion.

I think we are duped sometimes by the reactions players have - specifically why they do them.

Friday, March 8, 2013

More Meaningful Hockey Trophies for Kids by Brad Jubin of APIVEO

It is tradition for hockey programs to give participation trophies at the end of the season for, well, participating. Unfortunately, what does participating really mean? In this post Brad Jubin, youth sport coach from Atlanta and co-founder of APIVEO, explains the issues with mindlessly handing out trophies.

I would like to begin by saying that I am not in favor of “participation” trophies for youth athletes. The reason is not that we are giving out trophies to every player; instead, it’s the lack of creativity in what we call them and the meaning behind them. After coaching dozens of youth teams, I know that an eight- year-old player who came to practice, worked hard, played in the games and cheered on his/her teammates is not excited to be recognized as a “participant.” As parents and coaches, we have to be able to come up with something more meaningful than “participant.” 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks Talking About the Winning Streak

The Chicago Blackhawks are attempting to make history tonight as they take on the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center. They are attempting to draw even with Anaheim Ducks of 2006-07 for the best start in history - 16 games without a regulation loss.

I have watched the Hawks a number of times and I am impressed with the confidence and dominance they exhibit. They are skating and showing great skill, and yet are winning the dirty battles on the boards and in front of the net. The Hawks will score beautiful tic-tac-toe goals and then also jam the front of the net and push the puck across the line.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Skill of Letting Go of Guilt and Embarrassment - Something all Players Must Have (Post 2 of 10)

Joel Ward of the Washington Capitals lived a hockey nightmare last May. With his team up in the third period of Game 5 versus the New York Rangers, Ward received a double minor for high sticking. Helplessly he watched the Rangers score with 6.6 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. To make matters far worse the Rangers carried the second power play opportunity in to overtime and won the game on a power play goal. Needless to say, Ward was very upset after the game.

Nicholas Cotsonika of Yahoo! sports wrote about Ward's feelings of letting his team down after the game:

Three times, he said he let down his teammates. Three times, he said there was nothing he could do as he sat in the penalty box. Three times, he said he had been hoping for a chance to redeem himself. He called it "a little mentally disturbing."
He could have just called it "hockey."
"It's a game of inches," Ward said. "It happens pretty quick. We were a few seconds from winning, and it turned into overtime into a loss, just like that." (Ward's late penalties give chance to Rangers,
How disappointing would that be for any hockey player, let alone an NHL player? Ward was feeling guilty and probably a little embarrassed about his penalties and how it changed the outcome of the game.
However, there is no benefit for Ward, or any player for that matter, to dwell on these feelings of guilt and embarrassment. Other than using them to fuel your commitment to preparing for the next game, dwelling on these feelings can become a distraction, lower your energy and confidence.

2. Avoid dwelling on guilt and embarrassment.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Mental Game Plan - Something all Players Must Have (Post 1 of 10)

Nothing like a good plan in a bad situation.

This sentiment about having a plan comes from the character Sam Axe from the show Burn Notice. It is a popular show on USA Network that details the life of a burned spy. In every episode the burned spy, Micheal Weston, has to come up with an elaborate plan to either to bring down the bad guys or save himself, his friends, or someone in need of protection.  At the show's core is the idea that a spy has to plan and be prepared for difficult situations to execute under pressure.

Like Weston and Axe, you too need a good plan to succeed in pressure hockey games.  And, because pressure hockey games are as much mental as they are physical, players need to develop a mental game plan that will allow them to be confident, focused within their role.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

10 Mental Toughness Strategies Every Hockey Player Should Know

Want to develop your hockey mental toughness? Then you are ready to take your game to the next level. 

While many players think mental toughness is something you are born with; this is not completely true. Yes, some players are more mentally tough just by their nature, but most develop their toughness over seasons of hockey. Mental toughness can be developed through your experiences. Furthermore, it can be learned by systematically training your mind to handle the pressures of hockey. 

What you need to know is that mental toughness is not a cure-all and is something you work on all the time. You do not master mental toughness and then never have to use mental skills again. Like communication, mental toughness is something to be mastered and continually worked on.

As I work with elite hockey players I am realizing that there are 10 keys every hockey player needs to know related to the mental game of hockey that are not talked about enough or at all. These skills or strategies you should use the rest of your hockey career.

  1. Have a mental game plan
  2. Avoid dwelling on guilt and embarrassment
  3. Avoid negative outbursts just to save your pride
  4. Venting is important, but do it in a positive way
  5. You are not perfect; it’s about the bounce back
  6. Before big games break a good sweat in warm ups
  7. Set process goals for games
  8. Train to play your game under pressure
  9. Recovering your energy is as important as training the body
  10. Develop mental weapons
Over the next five weeks I will post each one of these skills and provide details on how to develop it. Come back to the hockey edge blog to read some of the most important mental toughness strategies you will ever learn, and probably will not learn just by experience.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How will a Lockout-Shortened Season Affect the NHL?

Here we are, January 19, 2013. We find ourselves, finally, at the start of the 2012-2013 NHL season. Beyond the excitement of finally seeing the best in the world in action, questions abound.

What should expect from a lockout shortened season? The NHL season, which can be normally viewed as a 82-game marathon followed by 2 months of grueling playoff hockey, is now a 48-game sprint to the finish. How will this change the quality of the game we see on the ice, as well as the fortunes of the teams and its players?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hockey Edge Newsletter December 2012: How the Kings Regained Momentum Just in Time to Win the Stanley Cup

The 2012 Stanley Cup Finals looked like a rout. The Los Angeles Kings were dispatching easily of another opponent; this time it was the New Jersey Devils in the way of the Kings' destiny with the Cup. After taking a 3-0 series lead and then losing two potential clinching games, it was "sweaty palm time" for the Kings. Momentum was flowing against them and the Devils seemed to grow more and more confident.

Coming home for Game 6 after being up 3 games to 0 had to have the Kings feeling the heat. Certainly they did not want to have it come down to a Game 7 in New Jersey. So, Game 6 at home was a must-win to avoid a huge collapse.

In Game 6 at Staples Center the Kings finished ferociously just when the sixth-seeded Devils appeared to have a chance for one of the biggest comebacks in finals history. How were the Kings able to change the course of the Finals?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Effect of the Lockout on Player Careers

The NHL Lockout has gobbled up all games up to December 30 and time is running out on having a season. What effect might this have on the careers of players? Check out my thoughts on the unintended side effect of the lockout at Get Real Hockey.

Get Real Hockey - Unintended Effect of the Lockout on Player Careers

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dr. Larry on ESPN Outside the Lines

Dr. Lauer discusses youth football bounties on ESPN Outside the Lines

My part is not included in the link, however...

The show re-airs Friday, December 7 at 3 pm eastern on ESPN.

The podcast is also available on itunes search Outside the Lines

Go to for my thoughts on the show

Monday, November 26, 2012

Answering the Question How Do I Become a More Consistent Hockey Player

I have the fortune of working with some of the best players in the world. And, while they have the best skill sets, speed, power, you name it they all wrestle with a question that will determine the fate of their hockey careers. How to become a consistent hockey player at an elite level.

I am asked this question often by players and coaches. I think they sometimes assume either I have a trick to make it happen or the answer is so difficult that it is unrealistic for a player to carry out. The answer is, however, somewhat simple but requires much discipline. Brett Henning writing for the Avalanche Cares web site breaks it down rather simply: You, the player, chooses whether to be average or great in the way you prepare for and think about each game.

Playing Consistent Hockey comes down to a Greatness Approach by Brett Henning

I agree with Henning that your approach, mindset, preparation plan for each game are the keys to consistency. You need to consistently make the commitment to be your best. Messier's approach was to play each game like it was his last. Bringing that kind of intensity is good for many hockey players, however, the mindset does not work for all players.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to Think About Poor Games as a Goaltender; Lessons from Brodeur

If you are a goaltender you are going to suffer from poor games now and then. Face it, the position of goaltender is tough. Everybody knows when you make a mistake, the puck ends up in the back of the net. So, any goaltender recognizes that the key to success is not being perfect, but instead being able to bounce back from poor games.

The way we think about our losses is important to either bouncing back and playing well or beginning to lose confidence and potentially spiral in to a slump. You want your thoughts to be flexible, focused on what you control, positive and productive.