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Do you Want To Be a BIG GAME Hockey Player? (You Must Learn This)

I’ve always tried to figure out what made certain hockey players "game players" and some "practice players".

I would stress about it all day.

I read books about it.

I drew pictures of it.

It has been my obsession for the past 20 years (and still is).

From task to task, practice to practice, and game to game - I was always in my head wondering if I was playing the right way.

I was always working so hard to be the best player on the ice.

I wanted it so bad.

I figured if I wanted it bad enough it would work.

So I kept trying to 'think harder' and use my mind to play great.

But there was a problem...

I realized that better players used their minds LESS than lower-level players - not more.

The best players in the world have something I call "Automated Algorithms".

These are deeply engrained habits a player has developed.

That allows them to make better plays on the ice.

In the game, their brain goes on autopilot.

Instead of thinking more, they let their Automated Algorithms take over.

They just flow.

That's why the game looks too easy to them.

They let these algorithms take the wheel.

And their conscious mind is only along for the ride.

And then if they fail, they adjust them.

But they do not worry in the moment.

Because worrying pulls you out of the moment.

If you want to be one of these top-end players who can enter the zone at will, then let's get into it.

Overthinking Is Getting In Your Way

So what mistake was I really making?

The mistake was that I was overthinking the game.

My obsession and constant thinking about hockey was getting in my way.

It was good that I wanted to prepare hard, but then when game time came, I needed to shut it off.

I didn't know that all I had to do was let the algorithms run on autopilot.

Instead, I figured if I 'thought' hard enough I would become a superstar hockey player.

I thought that if I wasn't thinking super hard, I would be worse.

This was not true at all.

It was only when mentally I let go of the tension and learned to let my Automated Algorithms take over, that I had great games.

If I could have done this every game, I would have likely played far more consistently.

The Common Path

Now I know I am not the only player who has dealt with this problem.

But the problem is that so few people are open to the idea of thinking less when you play.

The common perspective when it comes to maximizing hockey performance is either:

  1. Work harder

  2. Want it more

  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you reach the NHL

I can hear so many of my hockey coaches saying those words to me over my career.

Then as you get older, you start to realize that this advice doesn't work.

Sure, you do have to work hard.

I am not here to debate that.

But if you are trying TOO HARD, it is actually counterproductive.

The Problem

The problem is two-fold:

  1. Hockey players don't properly program their automations.

  2. Hockey players don't know how to let their automated algorithms run

If you don't know how to program your automations, then you often end up with a lot of negative ones.

Many players show up to games with crappy automations like:

  • Negative thinking

  • Fear

  • Anxiety

  • Doubting thoughts

  • Poor decision-making patterns

  • Weak stickhandling

  • Poor shooting technique

  • Poor skating ability or patterns

Then they show up and wonder why they are always overthinking things and playing bad.

And it's not their fault, they have never been shown how to properly change their automation.

Instead, their mental automations are running wild.

They wake up and follow the same:

  • Morning Automation

  • Practice Automation

  • Workout Automation

  • Night Automation

Then they do it all over again.

They keep getting the same results.

The problem is that if you keep doing the same thing, you will usually get the same results.

For example, so many players have this kind of morning routine every day:

  1. Wake up.

  2. Open their phone.

  3. Go to the bathroom.

  4. Go on their phone.

  5. Brush their teeth.

  6. Go on their phone.

  7. Think of some negative thoughts.

  8. Eat some food while scrolling.

  9. Then go to school or work.

  10. And so on...

Is this what you do?

This morning automation (Habit/routine) programs you for more bad things later on.

Social media feeds your mind with negativity and comparison.

You start the day distracted which programs your mind for more distraction later. You don't do anything to improve your mind, body, or skill set.

This morning's automation sucks.

So the question then becomes: can you change your automation?

Can People Change Their Automation?

The key is to realize we are all a sequence of automation.

There is an illusion that our conscious mind is in control.

Instead at least 95% of the actions we take are automatic.

We don't even realize that our actions are shaped by our:

  • Goals

  • Identity

  • Perspective

We have the power to change our automated habits.

But it requires us to become conscious of our subconscious automation.

We may think our coach hates us for no reason.

But it might be the case that you have bad automation when your coach speaks to you.

I know for me I would say "sounds good" to everything my coach said.

It felt natural to me, but little did I realize that it drove my coaches nuts.

It made them think I wasn't even listening to them.

Shifting Your Automation

Shifting Your Automations comes from having CLARITY.

Clarity on who we are and the habits we have built.

Clarity on our bigger goal.

Clarity on the identity we must develop to reach those big goals.

Clarity on our checkpoints.

Gain clarity, and then you can move with confidence.

So how do we gain clarity?

Here are the steps to shifting your automations by gaining clarity on what's really going on in your head:

  1. Identifying what automations you have developed on and off the ice (List them in detail)

  2. Identifying what automations are not working

    1. EX. dumping the puck in when I have space to carry it

    2. EX. saying "sounds good" every time my coach talks to me

  1. Write out a clear a daily routine that will help fix this

    1. Create a set of affirmations you will repeat to yourself day and night

    2. Create a visualization sheet you will go through daily

    3. Practice carrying the puck into the zone before and after every practice

    4. Study film on what the best players do on zone entries

  1. Reflect at the end of each week

    1. Identity if these actions are building powerful automations

    2. If they are, then continue doing them until they become automatic

    3. If not, then adjust them and try again this week

  1. Repeat this process weekly

Some key automation you want to make sure you have tuned in:

  • Morning Automation

  • Night Automation

  • Pregame Automation

  • Post Game Automation

  • In game automations

  • Leadership automation

Key To Remember...

The key is to do it until you don’t have to think of it anymore.

That is when it has become an automation.

This is what allows you to turn off your brain.

When you can turn off your brain in games and go into autopilot.

This only works if you have done the reps.

I like to say it will take about 1000 reps to make something automated.

Then about 10,000 reps to make it a part of our hardwired programming.

Be careful that you do not practice 10,000 bad reps.

Because then you may end up with worse programming than someone who doesn't practice much at all.

Hope you got some value from this letter.

If you enjoyed, share the link with a friend.

Hope you crush it this week!

- Corson Searles

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Who is Corson Searles?

I am a former player & mental/performance advisor for AAA, junior, college, and pro hockey players. I am obsessed with dissecting atheletic performance potential, lifestyle design, and hockey development.


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