All athletes have times when they feel completely defeated and unable to motivate themselves to go on. No matter how skilled or successful they are, the game can get the best of them and cause them to lose confidence. This is nothing new, but the best players know how to overcome these doubts and stay motivated in order to continue to develop as an athlete and maintain a certain level of success. While motivation from external factors such as other teammates and coaches can be helpful, it is self-motivation that is the most important in order to really keep going and improving. Read on below for some tips on how to motivate yourself to become a better player.
If you are simply going onto the ice every day with no endgame in mind, you will quickly become burnt out and unable to focus on the sport. It can start to feel like a chore rather than a game, and you will rapidly lose the desire to play. However, if you set personal goals, you can help yourself to stay motivated and become a better player. These goals can be as small as getting a certain amount of time on the ice for one game or as large as winning the league championship. In fact, it is best to have a variety of goals ranging from small to large.
Before every single game, maybe you want to commit to contributing to at least one goal for the team. It is better to create team goals, as you will become a better team player and give your group a better chance to win. This could mean that you want to make an assist or block a shot that leads to a great breakaway. Your goals can be more abstract too, and you might say that you want to encourage a player that has been having a rough time. Even if this isn’t a physical hockey goal, it is something that will help you get motivated to stay in the game and help others succeed.
Sometimes, all you need is a little pep rally from your teammates. Team bonding can do a lot for the confidence of players, and encouragement from other people is huge in such a social sport. However, it shouldn’t be your only source of motivation. You must realize that most of your energy is going to come from within you and that you have to search yourself in order to harness it.
This is where stepping aside to be alone for a certain amount of time can be immensely helpful. Whether it is in the car before the game or simply on the bench as you tune others out, you must find some time before every game to get in tune with yourself. Talk to yourself, whether out loud or in your head, and go over the goals that you previously set. Give yourself some words of motivation, similar to what you might give another teammate when you are struggling. If it helps, feel free to look in a mirror and shout these words at yourself. You might look and feel a bit crazy, but if it makes you a better hockey player, then where’s the harm? Self-talk can be very beneficial in helping you sort out your thoughts and clear your mind, so you can better focus on the game at hand.
Embrace the Chaos
No matter how hard we work, there are always going to be certain things that are out of our control. When you’re off the ice, you can’t affect the game in the same way you could when you’re on it. If someone blindsides you, there probably wasn’t much that you could have done about it in the first place. It is important to understand that you can’t control everything that happens, and to embrace the chaos that comes as a part of hockey.
When you accept that you can’t do everything on your own, you will have a clearer understanding of your purpose on the ice. You may not be able to change everything, but you can change certain things, and you should focus on those so that you can contribute to the overall success of your team. You can make decisions that lead to better opportunities for your team, but you can’t make every single move, nor can you score every single goal. Learn to enjoy the game, even when you aren’t playing, and you’ll be more motivated to put forth your best effort when you are given the opportunity to change the outcome. When you can’t, be happy that your teammates are just as important as you.
Focus on the Positives
One of the reasons many people get stuck in a rut is because they continually play out a previous mistake in their mind. They wonder how they let it happen and constantly feel like they let their teammates down. This is no way to go through life, and it certainly won’t help you to become a better hockey player.
If you made a mistake, think about what you could’ve done to prevent it, and how you can execute better next time. Remember that if you succeed in the next game, nobody is going to remember about a gaffe from the last game. You could end up being the star of tomorrow’s game, but that will only happen if you are able to let go of your past mistakes.
Your teammates can give you positive energy, but you have to find most of it inside of yourself. Harness this energy and use it to improve your game the next time around. Think about the joy that will come if you score the game-winning goal or make a huge save at the end of the game. Don’t focus on what will happen if something goes wrong. People will forget the failures, but they will always remember the big successes, and they will want to join in on your happiness.