Women’s Hockey Mental Fitness : There’s a lot of stigma and misconceptions about mental health and mental fitness in all sports, not just women’s hockey. It comes from years and years of listening to how the best athletes are mentally tough, and you’ll need the same amount of toughness to achieve their heights. Even worse, even athletes who discuss mental health and toughness immediately think of mental illness and mental frailty.
However, this is far from the truth. In fact, mental toughness doesn’t exclude mental exhaustion or even frailty. They’re just different opposites on a scale of mental fitness – the subject of today’s article. This article will discuss women’s hockey mental fitness and how mental fitness correlates with athletic performance.
Acknowledge And Recognize Mental Health Stigma
While it’s true that the best athletes are mentally tough and that mental toughness pays off, the phrase is often taken out of context and stigmatized by the athletes themselves. So, to start things off, let’s first discuss what “mental toughness” actually is.
By its definition, mental toughness translates as the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to cope with the demands of the sport. This includes competition, training, and lifestyle demands, requiring players to be more determined, focused, confident, and in control under pressure.
In other words, mental toughness is a skill – something you practice. But, unfortunately, the definition of mental toughness has gone off course and turned into a term that makes athletes believe they shouldn’t disclose or ask for help regarding their mental state, physical or emotional pain, personal problems, etc.
This belief is further fueled by fear of being deemed unfit to play, or even ostracized from the team, preventing the vast majority of athletes from seeking help, leading to short-term or even long-term mental health issues.
Think of it this way: you can drive a car without oil in your engine. However, you’re severely reducing the performance and longevity of your vehicle. The same applies to mental fitness – carrying too much burden can, and in all likelihood, will impede your performance. And that’s why it’s essential to break the stigma of women’s hockey mental fitness and overall mental health.
Break The Stigma
Unfortunately, hockey is not one of those sports where the coach says, “Sit down, take your pens and papers; we’re having mental health training.” Instead, you’re expected to show up and grind hours into honing your skill. So, breaking the stigma can be easier said than done, especially in physically aggressive sports such as ice hockey.
The best way to break the stigma is to discuss the training session in the locker room. If you’re an ice hockey trainer, encourage your team players to talk about the best part of the training session, which teammate was the best assist and provided the best overall performance, and what aspect of today’s training was the hardest for her. This will give them control over what hardships they share and help them bond more as a team.
It will also help players identify which of their teammates is struggling, help them identify their own struggles. This can further help them deal with their mental issues or exhaustion in a healthy way and increase the overall mental fitness of players as individuals and as a team – a proper form of mental toughness.
If you’re not an ice hockey trainer, sharing emotions and struggles with your team might not be as easy as it sounds. Though ladies are more emotionally fluent than the guys, talking about one’s problems, especially if vulnerability, shame, or guilt are included, can be difficult. So, you must train your mind and learn some mental self-care.
Train your mind
“Where the mind goes, the body will follow.”
Though it sounds like an eastern wise man said it, the quote actually belongs to Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it’s an absolute truth. You can’t perform to the full extent of your abilities or even hone your competitive edge further if other things hinder your mind. In other words, you won’t be able to focus. So it’s essential to train your mind.
Physical training is crucial in ice hockey, but training your mind can significantly increase your performance on ice while not creating any more profound need for recovery. According to studies, analyzing automated movements through visualization allows your muscle memory to re-optimize complex movement sequences. Furthermore, rehearsal of game situations and emotional response can help you perfect your emotional balance and help increase your overall mental fitness.
Besides visualizing matches, it’s also highly beneficial to visualize and optimize your preparation right before the game. Analyze every little detail of your preparation, your routines, from how you’re taping your hockey stick to how you’re lacing your ice skate – something you can learn more about on https://www.east-hockey.com/
Every little detail counts. As we previously stated, mental toughness is a skill akin to a muscle. Hence, you can train it like a muscle, as long as you give it time to rest afterward. This brings us to our next point.
Rest And Self-care
Rest is crucial for good performance. Every elite-level athlete knows and respects the importance of rest, which allows you to regenerate your body, and your mind. “Where the mind goes, the body will follow,” remember?
So, it’s crucial to take some time for yourself. Visit spa and massage centers during seasons for some much-needed relaxation that will keep your mind and body running through the season. And especially take some time off sports during off-seasons. It’s healthy for both the body and the mind, as it will allow you to recover and face preparation for the following seasons with more mental clarity.
Our mental fitness is often influenced by many factors, including stress, hormones, life stages, relationships, etc. And while a healthy body equals a healthy mind, it’s the healthy mind that takes care of business, even such as athletic performance in women’s hockey.
Related Videos about Women’s Hockey Mental Fitness :
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Mental Toughness Training for Athletes: Sports Psychology Tip