Picking right up where we left off:
KN: I can’t agree more. I’m an outspoken supporter of unconditional optimism, in sports and in life. I know you went into great detail about this in your book “Best Hockey Season Ever”, fill us in on what hockey players can do to correct these performance-limiting attitudes?
KM: Players need to own their accomplishments and own their strengths. There is nothing wrong with saying “Thanks” after someone tells you that you played a great game. You aren’t being conceited – you are acknowledging your accomplishment. On the same note, players need to know what they are good at and commit to being the best at those things each and every time they are out on the ice. All too often, players get wrapped up and focus on their weaknesses instead of showcasing their strengths. Don’t get me wrong – players have to improve their weaknesses as well, but they also need to know what they are best at and commit to being the best at those things all the time. The negativity issue is a hard one to fix, but it can be as simple as getting players to stop slamming their stick against the boards in frustration after missing a sure goal. That’s a little step in the right direction that will get them to think about being more positive.
KN: Great point. Taking small steps and cutting back a few negative behaviors is a great way to start improving your playing mentality. Most people are familiar with the fact that an off-ice training program can help improve the strength, speed, power, and conditioning of ice hockey players. I’m a strong believer that these things are just the tip of the iceberg. Do you notice changes in your players’ confidence and mental toughness after a few months of training?
KM: My favorite thing about off-ice training is the psychological benefit it gives players. I know that when I was a young player, I took great pride in the fact that none of the other girls I played with trained as hard as I did off the ice. I may not have been as skilled as them on the ice, but I knew that I was fitter, faster, and stronger. Quite often, when it comes to off-ice training, the most skilled player on the team isn’t the best athlete off the ice. Sometimes it’s the 4th liner who is the most fit. While fitness isn’t the only thing that will get that player better on the ice, the confidence they will gain knowing that they are in the best shape will have tremendous benefits to their performance.
I felt the same way when I trained! As a 13 year-old I got cut from a Bantam Tier II 2nd team! I remember training that whole year just knowing that nobody was working as hard as me off the ice, treating the whole world as my competition. It sounds like that mentality paid off for both of us!
Thanks a lot for taking the time Kim!
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Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.