Tag: NHL

Stanley Cup Playoffs

By: Premier Sport Psychology

The Stanley cup is the oldest and most revered trophy in professional sports. Originally donated to the “professional hockey club of the dominion of Canada” in 1892, it has since become the crown jewel of the NHL, traveling to the headquarters of each NHL champion since 1958 (Schwartz, 2017). Players not only leave their legacies engraved upon the cup, in a tradition unique to the NHL, they are each allowed one day with the cup to celebrate how they please. The cup has traveled to Europe, been used for baptisms, schlepped up mountains, and has even been shared with the winner of the Kentucky Derby (Anderson, 2016). Yet despite its many travels and travails, there are 11 teams who have never won the Stanley Cup.  

So what helps teams and organizations put themselves into a position to raise Lord Stanley’s cup?  One philosophy and contributing factor is infusing an adaptable playing style in high pressure game situations. “What compels adaptability are two things: the skill to notice a gap between where you are and where you need to be to be effective, and the will to close that gap” (Boss, 2016).  It will not solely matter if a team has a head coach that has been to or won a cup before in order to make it there this playoff season.  It is eminently more important a coach makes it a point to tweak lines and game plans based on the strengths of the team members. An example of this is Minnesota Wild’s Bruce Boudreau’s development of an up-tempo attacking style for players like Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund who both had career-best totals last season with 42 and 44 points respectively. By using their strengths of speed and agility to their advantage, both players have already surpassed their previous season point totals with flying colors prior to reaching playoffs this season (Dowd, 2017).  

This adaptive mentality can be beneficial for all coaches and players alike. Coaches who know the chemistry of their players/team members can use adaptability as a tool to develop effective game plans for their team’s success. Additionally, when players and coaches work as a cohesive unit, adapting to each other’s strengths and weaknesses, it is then that the team is able to produce optimal levels of performance. Coaches that depend less on one or two of their players and instead adapt and mold players together will be hard to beat.

With all of that being said, coaching takes commitment and hard work-Not only to teach concepts and strategy to the players, but to really learn and understand the environment that each player thrives best in. Whether that means a player performs better with one teammate than another, or he needs the speed ramped up to be more successful, a good coach will do whatever is needed to get all players playing at their best. It may take some compromise along the way, but with the help of careful thought and deliberate change, adaptations will greatly be to the coach’s advantage.  

As the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, I encourage you all to think about ways in which you too can add adaptability into your sports repertoire. Displayed by both hockey players and coaches alike, you will find that team performance is greatly enhanced when each member can play to each other’s strengths, not just their own.

Katie Lubben

References:

Anderson, C. (2016). The 10 Craziest Stanley Cup Celebrations

http://www.goliath.com/sports/the-10-craziest-stanley-cup-celebrations/

Boss, J. (2016). The Most Effective Teams Adapt to Change

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffboss/2016/06/07/the-most-effective-teams-adapt-to-change/#6e918ad279b7

Dowd, J. (2017). The Minnesota Wild Will Avoid Its Annual Collapse This Season
http://www.hockeywilderness.com/2017/1/12/14235208/minnesota-wild-will-avoid-annual-collapse-bruce-boudreau-has-team-playing-well-coaching-life-cycle

Schwartz, J. (1997-2017). Legends of Hockey- NHL trophies- Stanley Cup https://www.hhof.com/htmlSilverware/silver_splashstanleycup.shtml

The Rarity of Feats Like Horseracing’s Triple Crown

By: Premier Sport Psychology

Horseracing’s Triple Crown has only been achieved eleven times since its first winner in 1919. Of those twelve, only four have occurred since 1948—3 in the mid 1970s and then American Pharoah this past weekend. The media has been talking about how rare the Triple Crown is, but just how rare is it? Compared to other sports, is winning the Triple Crown really as profound as we all make it out to be?

Horseracing

The Triple Crown has been won 12 times in 97 years, or once every 8.0833 years.

Baseball

In Major League Baseball’s modern era, (1900-present) pitchers have thrown only 21 perfect games. That’s 21 perfect games in 115 years, or once every 5.476 years. Think about it this way, there are 4,860 chances for a perfect game in each year that has 162 games, meaning that there have only been 21 out of approximately 780,000 chances, or 0.00269% of the time.

Hockey

Only 60 times (44 players) has someone scored at least five goals in a single NHL game. Over the NHL’s existence, that’s one every 1.324 years.

Golf

With four major tournaments each year, you’d think this would occur more often, but only 25 times has a golfer won back-to-back majors. That’s 25 since 1860, or once every 6.16 years. 

Basketball

The NBA quadruple double, or when a player records at least 10 in four of these categories—points, assists, rebounds, steals, or blocked shots—in a single game has only been achieved four times since steals and blocked shots began being recorded in 1974. This is one quadruple double every 10.25 years.

Football

The Heisman trophy has been awarded each year since 1935, but only once did the same player win it in multiple years. Archie Griffin, who ended up playing for the Cincinnati Bengals, won it twice—1974 and 1975.

Achieving any of these feats would require different time, talents, and skill, and no one team or athlete is guaranteed at having equal chances of them occurring. We should consider the perceived rarity of this one incredible endeavor—the Triple Crown—and perhaps lend some of that awe, spectacle, and inspiration to others.

Congratulations to American Pharoah and his team on winning the Triple Crown!

In the Midst of the Stanley Cup, the Lightning’s Home Ice Advantage Should Not be Overlooked

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

In a comeback victory last night, the Chicago Blackhawks took Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals from the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1. The two teams will face off again Saturday night in Tampa for Game 2 of the seven game series. Both teams showed promise as the Lightning dominated for the first period and the Blackhawks controlled the third. The Cup could go either way, so we wanted to take a look at one advantage that is out of either team’s control: home field advantage (or, in the case of hockey, home ice advantage).

With 108 points in the regular season compared to Chicago’s 102, the Tampa Bay Lightning secured home ice advantage for the series, which will give them an upper hand if the series goes five or seven games. Playing at home can benefit players because it may make them more relaxed than if they were on the road. They are in a place that is comfortable and secure—players are able to sleep in their own homes and prepare in their own locker rooms and clubhouses.

Also, when at home, players are playing in front of their own fans. While this may not seem like it has a profound impact on players, think about 20,000 people cheering you on. Or, if you’re the away team, 20,000 people being so silent when you’ve just scored that you could hear a pin drop. With the Chicago win last night, if you’re a Blackhawks fan, you might scoff and say that the fans are unimportant and therefore the Lightning don’t have an edge, but not many of you have stood in front of thousands of people screaming for your success and against your opponent’s. To come back in the third period last night, Chicago used a significant amount of mental focus and determination in addition to the X’s and O’s to overcome the crowd atmosphere cheering against them and take Game 1 of the series.

Premier’s own Dr. Alexandra Wagener was on Minnesota’s local CBS station, WCCO, to discuss why fans are so crucial to a home team’s success:

“We know that we are more aggressive, we have more motivation and we are actually more confident when we’re at home,” she said. “There’s also research to show that when we have the crowd behind us it can influence referee calls to an extent. Be supportive, be excited, and be in the moment. When the players look up, see people on their feet, we see them chanting and cheering—it can provide that extra edge to skate a little stronger.”

In fact, the presence of fans is so important to the Lightning, that this year they are imposing a new rule: All fans sitting in “premium” areas are required to wear Lightning paraphernalia or neutral clothing—absolutely no Blackhawks apparel allowed. Bill Wicket, the Lightning’s Executive Vice President for Communications, told the New York Times that the team is trying to create a “hometown environment for the Lightning players and our season-ticket holders.”

The assistance that fans provide as Dr. Wagener has previously stated helps solidify this fact. The Lightning organization has recognized the fans’ importance, so they are trying to do whatever they can in order to give their team the best shot at winning the Cup. Teams are putting more stock into the mental game, not just one-on-one sessions or workshops with coaches, but trying to channel group mentality within the stadium as well.

What do you think? Should the Lightning restrict what fans wear, and what impact does this rule have on the players? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook!

 

 

 

 

What Is The Story Behind Superstitions?

By: Premier Sport Psychology

If you look at any sport team, you will likely find many athletes that incorporate superstitions into their pre-game routines. Michael Jordan wore his University of North Carolina shorts under his uniform in every game of his professional career, insisting that they brought him luck. As a five-time MVP and six-time NBA Champion, it seems there may have been some method to his madness. Crossing borders onto the ice rink, Patrick Roy, one of the best goalies in NHL history, would skate backward toward his net and turn around at the last minute before every game. He believed this would “shrink the net”. (If that’s not interesting enough, he would talk to his goal posts and thank them when the puck would ring off them!) New York Mets reliever Turk Wendell would brush his teeth in between every inning and requested a contract of $9,999,999.99 to compliment his uniform number 99. So what is the real story behind superstitions? Why do they develop? And the biggest question: do they help?

How do Superstitions Start?

Superstitions are generally developed in retrospect when athletes begin to correlate performance with unrelated events/actions during the day. When an athlete performs particularly well (or conversely, when they perform poorly) they may look back at their day and point to specific events that could have caused the outlier performance. This can be anything from a song they heard to the type of undergarments they were wearing. It is not unusual to see superstitions that involve something with little, if any, connection to performance. Things like a haircut or shaving ones legs become carefully planned out to either “help” or avoid “hurting” performance. When athletes create this “cause and effect” between events and performance they chalk up their best performances to the events preceding the competition, and try to recreate it before competition. And you guessed it; they avoid any events that happened before terrible performances.

The Downfalls of Superstitions

While many superstitions are harmless, getting too consumed by them may cause problems in preparing. When developed superstitions begin to become all-consuming and athletes “need” them to be mentally prepared it can become stressful and produce fear and anxiety. An athlete may forget to recreate the superstition or not get to it before competition and lead themselves to believe that the way they perform is then out of their control. Giving power to these events/things can be very dangerous. Severe obsessions with superstitions can start to look like OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and can mentally block an athlete’s ability to perform, when in reality the superstition cannot change the outcome of competition. The way an athlete prepares, and later performs, is almost entirely in their control. Outside factors such as weather and time delays may present challenges, but it is the athlete themselves who can work through that adversity and push themselves to reach optimal perform.

The Benefits of Superstitions

When superstitions are simply habits, quirks, or pregame routines they can actually be beneficial for some athletes. Having small things that are incorporated into preparation for competition can give an athlete a sense of control and confidence. Superstitions such as eating a good meal before a game, warming up the same, or listening to a favorite song can get your mind focused and remind your body that you are preparing for competition. You may have heard the phrase that humans are “creatures of habit” and as long as the habits are healthy, who is to say they won’t help you perform better? In fact, psychology has shown over and over that if you believe a specific action or behavior will help you perform better, then you probably will perform better! This is commonly known as the placebo effect. Sport psychology encourages the use of mental preparation strategies such as visualization and imagery to help athletes prepare mentally for competition. NFL quarterback Russell Wilson uses these techniques along with mindfulness to bring his game to the next level. Zack Parise of the Minnesota Wild uses visualization before every NHL game. By imagining yourself in a high competition setting, and performing successfully, you are preparing not only your mind for competition, but your body as well.

So can superstitions really be lucky? Depending on the type of superstition and dependence on it, it seems that things that stimulate mental preparation can increase performance. Outside of that… never washing your lucky socks cannot make or break your performance, unless you believe it can. It certainly will however make for a smelly locker. You need to step back and assess what meaning the superstition has in connection with your performance. And if that meaning can propel you to the top of your game then by all means use it to your advantage. Just remember that Louis Pasteur once said “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” So prepare properly, and you will get predictable performance. Strong mental preparation will provide you the luck you are searching for.

Bethany Brausen

Play Ball! …Or Hoops, A Round of Golf or Anything for that Matter!

By: Premier Sport Psychology

Trent Klatt played in the NHL for 14 years before becoming the head amateur scout for the New York Islanders. With years of experience, he is offering one bold bit of advice: to become a better hockey player, get off the ice. Klatt sat down with USA Hockey to discuss his advice that most may disagree with initially. Growing up, Klatt played three different sports: football, hockey, and baseball. Rather than draining all of your energy into one sport, play a variety of them and focus on developing as an athlete. During the recruiting process, Klatt is looking for just that: an athlete. There is something to be said about a hockey player who also excels in other sports. While they are developing different muscles and reflexes, they are also developing skills that transfer over to other sports (such as hand-eye coordination).

Klatt worries that the public, and parents especially, have become so consumed by the idea that their children needs to participate in every possible league and camp in order to reach the professional level. Rather than having that mindset, it is important to give the athletes freedom to do what they want–whether it is another sport or even time off. If the athlete is not looking forward to playing, it can lead to burn out. Never taking time off can also lead to injury–even at the professional level. The best way to develop a hockey player is to allow them the time and space to develop first and foremost as an athlete. When children are allowed the leeway to choose when to pick up the hockey stick, the baseball bat, football or anything else, they will do so with much more eagerness and effort. Without those two attributes, a child may not reach their full potential–on the rink, or anywhere else for that matter! So, instead of having aspiring hockey players partake in every training camp available, encourage them to take a break from the rink instead. Ironically enough, it may be exactly what they need to become the professional player they aspire to be.

Bethany Brausen

The Wild Go Wild

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

The 2014-2015 NHL Season is officially underway, and with it comes Minnesota sports fans the country over hoping for a successful season. After an MLB postseason without the Twins, and with the Vikings off to a shaky start, Minnesota sports fans really need something they can put their hearts into.

As of right now, the Minnesota Wild look like just that something.

Starting their season with an impressive 5-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, the Wild look like a team going in the right direction. Proving they can produce on the offensive end, while also showing stout defensive and goaltender play, the team seems to be firing on all cylinders.

It’s still early, of course, and we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, but this could be the start of something special. With an initial optimistic outlook on the season, and a huge boost of confidence coming from their opening win, there seems to be nothing that could hold the Wild back. You could even say they’re going wild this season.

Moving forward with heads held high, confidence at a maximum and a positive outlook on the rest of the season, the Wild look like Minnesota’s team. The physical talent is there, and the mental strength is only helping to make it better.

 

 

Chemistry Interrupted

By: Premier Sport Psychology

For a lesson in chemistry, take a look at the Chicago Blackhawks current season, writes Bryan Dietzler in an online Bleacher Report article.

Avid sports fans may think the Blackhawks are currently suffering from “Stanley Cup Hangover.” Since the team won a championship last year, the slow season start is a common sports phenomenon of not playing at an optimum level after a championship winning year, aka a “hangover.” Dietzler says this may be true, but the bigger reason behind their struggles is due to team chemistry.

“Chemistry is the result of extended time practicing and playing with a group of people in order to build cohesion and team unity,” wrote Dietzler. The Blackhawks traded players and released other team members and signed new talent after winning the Stanley Cup. In effect, the Blackhawk’s team chemistry has been seriously interrupted.

Dietzler points out that hockey lines thrive on chemistry or teamwork: players need to “think and do things without speaking and know each other’s tendencies.” A hockey line moves as a single unit. It’s hard to act as one person until the new players and old players rebuild their chemistry, learning how each teammate think and plays.

As the Blackhawk’s “new” team begins to gel, watch for the team chemistry to come together on the ice.