Psychological Strength Strategies

Psychological strengthening techniques are best implemented by trained professionals. CKM Sports Management is your resource for strategies that integrate the following psychological concepts into hockey player development:

  • Cognitive Therapy

  • Behaviour Therapy

  • Memory Strengthening

 Two Examples of Our Psychological Strength Strategies

1. Visualization Training

Ty SwabbThe use of visualization has been used in many applications such as military training, physiotherapy, and athletics. In recent years the degree to which it is used in hockey has increased substantially. The strategy is used to increase mental preparation in specific situations. The result is a competitive advantage that allows one to react to a spontaneous event in a quicker, faster, more successful and more efficient way than their competition.
The background of visualization derives from a number of psychological concepts, one being Hebbs Law. The Hebbs theory states that persistence or repetition of a reverberatory activity (or “trace”) tends to induce lasting cellular changes that add to its stability. When an axon of cell A is near enough to excite cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells such that A’s efficiency, as one of the cells firing B, is increased.
In the action of visualization, your brain activates its occipital lobe which allows you to visually see images in your mind. Studies have shown through FMRI scans that the same activation for actual images seen are identical to visualized images in your mind. What this means, is that you can strengthen the neural connections that occur during an event without actually having to see the event in reality. Being mentally prepared for an event or possible events allows you to optimize the appropriate emotional and physical response.
The secondary benefit to visualization is the decrease in reaction time and the increase in habitual responses. Meaning that your reactions come closer and closer to being a habit, rather than something you have to think about and then respond. As a result, you can understand why this would be a good strategy in a sport like Hockey.

2. Motivational Triggering

One reality about athletes that most forget (especially in team sports), is that each individual athlete has different motivational triggers. Therefore, what motivates one player may not motivate another. The first objective in this process is breaking down what motivates a person. A lot of the time, this may not even be what they think motivates them, such as money, but instead, a personality based motivation that is tied to their family values or beliefs. The second step is implementing the motivational triggers in their daily routine which results in increased development. The final step is paring the unique motivational triggers to the athlete’s’ goals and long term plans.


Memory Based Strategies for Players

1. Overlearning

If you need to master information that has no connection to your everyday life, continue to study the the material even after you have fully mastered it. The additional studying will allow you to remember the material for a longer amount of time. This will reduce the time need to restudy the material in the case of a cumulative exam.

2. External Cues

Utilize external cues to remember specific information.
1) Personally place an object in the environment in which you have to remember something.
2) Then mentally pair that item with the information to be remembered. This will shorten the time of recall and strengthen the relationship between the information and yourself. Retrieval cues are the single most important feature of remembering.
Example: Gym Bag in your room – Hockey Tryouts

3. Chunking

The average human can remember 7 units of information (ie. digits, colours, letters) at one time without memorization involved. Therefore, when learning a large amount of information, encode the information in 5-7 groups and try to mentally distinguish each group from another. This will allow you to unlock the larger 5-7 groups, then further unlock the 7 facts of information in each one of those groups. The more this is practiced, the more efficient the process gets.

4. The Generation Effect

Generating answers to questions yourself is a more powerful memory aid than simply reading the material repeatedly.
1) Generate questions to give yourself after reading the material
2) Answer the questions, either verbally or written, in your own words. This connection between information learned and your working process will trigger your long-term memory and result in better performances on tests.

5. Mimic Your Test Environment, Inside and Out

This allows you to increase the speed and quality of recall in learned information. Prepare yourself prior to the test and mirror your test and study environment in the following aspects, making sure there is as little difference between the two environments on the big day.
– Energy Level, Alertness Level, Mood, Hunger Level
– Lighting, Temperature, and External Sound