The Game within the Game: Mental Skills Training for Jr. “A” Hockey Players Part II: Skill-Set: Relaxation

Last time I wrote about the overall contribution that Sport Psychology and Mental Skills Training can have on Jr. “A” Level Hockey Players. These are posts written specifically for JrHockey.com . It encompasses just a few of the things we are doing with the Cheyenne Stampede Hockey Club. This is Part II.
I talked about four important skill sets. Relaxation:  Imagination/Visualization: Self-confidence: Concentration. Of course these are not the only skills an athlete needs to work on, but it was a good place to get started as they have great impact and the terminology is easy to understand. I don’t like to throw academic technical jargon around, so starting with two of the basics, I will take you through how an athlete can better understand themselves and use these important skills.
Relaxation: Here is a skill that, when lacking, frequently interferes with play. When a player is not relaxed, they lose the feel for what they are doing.  It is difficult to yell at a player and get them to relax.  It just doesn’t work.  Instead, players can be functionally taught how to relax.  Then, a simple reminder can help them shift their focus and use their training to calm down.  When they are relaxed, they will have much more success with their touch, bringing the Game within the Game full circle.  By being relaxed, they are able to focus on their touch and, of course, their self-confidence grows.  One of the most important aspects regarding athletic performance is that of self awareness. Relaxation training is how I address this from the start of the journey with an athlete. An athlete discovers that they can recognized the differences in muscle tension, then mental tension, this progresses towards a better self awareness of everything to do with their sport. They begin to understand their thoughts better and can rationally understand the direction they are headed. Athletes are less affected then by negativity because of this increased level of self awareness. It begins with a simple clinching of a fist.
Have you ever wondered how an athlete can control their bodies so well?  Have you thought that they can do incredible things and still look like they are relaxed even under high pressure situations?  The truth is that many athletes have a phenomenal capacity to remain relaxed and control their bodies during competition.  For many it is just something they learned along the way.
Some athletes have learned this process through things like yoga or meditation, but for most of them it has really been part of the process.  Yet many still search for other ways to learn how to control their minds and bodies during practice and competition.
For many the secrets of relaxation have eluded them.  Others have found it by accident.  What most have discovered was that this process could be learned and rather simply.  It can’t be that easy, I’ve heard again and again.  The truth is that it is easy. It takes a little practice, but anything worth doing takes a little work.
The answer to the relaxation response athletes have been learning for 70 years is called progressive relaxation.  Athletes learning this skill can better understand their bodies and also relax within minutes into a deep state of relaxation.  They can notice tension in their body immediately and get rid of it.  It gives them control.  The point is that relaxation training is for all of us.  It leads to great self awareness and this is primary to success in sports. I’ve been making tapes/cds/mp3s for athletes for over three decades to make the learning process faster and easier.
My next blog addition will be about the use of Imagination/Visualization with hockey. Play with passion.  Enjoy the Game. The one on the ice and the one within you.
Relaxation mp3s and imagery rehearsal programs can be ordered at The Mental-Game web site. 
Mike Margolies is available for workshops, team and individual consultation, assessment and as a speaker. His new book is called “The Athlete within You- a mental approach to sports and business” It is for athletes and non athletes working to achieve more in life.
 Available through Amazon.com

This is some text prior to the author information. You can change this text from the admin section of WP-Gravatar  Mike Margolies: Sport Psychology Consultants ; TheMental-Game.com Mike Margolies is a Sport Psychology Consultant, Certified Mental Trainer® (CMT), Author, and Professional Speaker. When you want to be the best that you can be and the one thing you might be missing is the right mental game - what can you do? Well, athletes from all over the country have been seeking out Mike Margolies for over three decades to help them reach their potential. His clients include professional, elite, colligate and youth athletes in every sport. They have sought his counsel and unique teaching style to learn about the game within the game, or what mental training can do to help them become the athlete they want to be. He has trained professional and elite athletes and helped guide many to world championships and even the Super Bowl. Mike has trained more than 2000+ athletes. He has taught at four Universities and completed research at the United States Olympic Training Center. His new book is called The Athlete within You- A Mental Approach to Sports and Business. He currently works with individual athletes, teams and businesses around the world, both in person and via SKYPE. Mike is based out of the Pacific Northwest. Let him encourage you to play the game within the game. The Athlete within You is waiting to come out play. Learn the rules to the mental game to help realize your potential. Read more from this author


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