Whether you’re a young up and comer or a professional hockey player, visualization can be an effective technique for self-improvement and delivering strong performances.
Visualization is basically imagining your game play, forming a mental view of how you would like to perform in a given game or situation. Visualization can inspire, improve self-confidence and help make you an improved player. In some ways, it is very similar to rehearsing. Actors and musicians rehearse before a big show and athletes can rehearse their performance in their head with visualization.
“I really believe if you visualize yourself doing something, you can make that image come true” - Wayne Gretzky
Perhaps one of the most interesting examples of visualization in hockey is in Mike Cammalleri. The forward is well known for use of visualization and it was a topic of interest among both hockey fans and the media during the Montreal Canadiens bid to win the 2010 Stanley Cup. Wayne Gretzky also talks about visualization in his autobiography, saying that the best goal scorers do not focus on the goaltender and where he is, they focus on the patches of empty net behind him. To improve his ability to score goals, Gretzky would visualize red lights or red ribbons over the net to help him stay focused on the net and not the goalie.
Studies have also shown that those with visual cues (photos, video, and imagination) are more likely to recall information. So when your coach is teaching you a new skill, play it back in your mind and imagine yourself doing it. Repeating this exercise will increase your success and help you to become a better, stronger hockey player.
The science behind visualization in sport is proven, so how do you begin?
Lay down in a calm and quiet environment the day before a game and imagine your performance in the game, visualize playing well and imagine winning. Focus on the key points in the game, the moments on which the game will turn. Where will you be? What will you be doing? What does an amazing performance from you look like? Think clearly and deeply about how you will feel physically and emotionally during and after the game. Use all your senses to paint a full mental picture. That’s it! Why not give it a go?
Visualization is a technique that even seasoned professionals use and once you start utilizing visualization, you’ll probably find yourself using it regularly. It will be your secret weapon for improving your game!
Choosing Okanagan Hockey Academy was one of the best decisions I have made for my development. The relationships I built with my teammates, coaches, and staff are bonds that will last a lifetime. The structure of the program on and off the ice prepared me to play junior hockey.