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Harness Your Emotions Like Auston Matthews (How to USE Your Anger To Play Better Hockey)

Before we talk about Matthews, I want to set the stage.

Take a deep breath.

Ask yourself this question:

Am I satisfied with what I am doing with my hockey training and preparation?

Stay with me here - I promise this will help you in hockey.

Let's ask one more question:

If I keep doing what I am doing with hockey training and preparation... am I certain that I will reach my hockey dreams?

Notice that uneasy feeling you have inside?

If you didn't feel it, take another slow breath.

Do you feel it now?

that unease feeling in your body.

That feeling is your subconscious mind trying to communicate with you.

Something is off.

Your subconscious mind knows it.

Your subconscious mind knows that your actions are not in alignment with what you want.

You say you want to be a successful hockey player.

You idolize the best players in the world.

You want to play juniors, NCAA, or NHL.

But your actions are not in alignment with that.

It might mean you are not working ‘hard enough’.

It might also mean you are not working smart enough.

Regardless, deep down you know something is off.

You are not alone, I have been there too.

I had the same feeling as a hockey player.

Every day I would show up to the rink nervous before practices and games.

I always felt uneasy.

I assumed this was the way it had to be.

What I didn't realize is that my nervousness came from not doing the work.

When I say this I mean: I was not doing everything I could to get better.

this led me to question if I was truly prepared for my games.

It led me to question if I deserved to have the hockey success I dreamed of.

Why was I not doing everything I could to get better?

this was the question I had to sit with.

After 100s of journaling sessions and years of reflection, it discovered that it came down to 3 main things:

#1 - I did not believe I could achieve my dreams in hockey (deep down I had many doubts about my potential).

#2 - I didn't know what I was missing and didn't know who to ask for help (I had a lot of blindspots).

#3 - I assumed I knew everything there was to know about hockey because I had watched to many hockey youtube videos

I Was Pissed Off

Looking back on this, it pissed me off.

If you are making any of these mistakes, it should piss you off too.

Not because I want you to be an angry person.

I want you to get pissed off because YOU DESERVE MORE.

I want you to get pissed off now when you can do something about it.

It was very late in my career when I realized this, and I wish I knew it earlier.

Setting A Higher Standard

You see, a major part of being great is simply not accepting anything less than great.

Someone like Auston Matthews is a prime example of this.

He was already a generational talent, yet he still worked with a world-class skills coach (Darryl Belfry) to completely transform his shot.

"Matthews has spent under the supervision of skills coach Darryl Belfry. Together they meticulously rebuilt the mechanics of Matthews’s shot, blending more stealth into an already elite release. “It was mostly changing the angle, shooting off any foot, shooting in stride, adding elements of deception,” says Auston’s father, Brian Matthews. “It was hidden and disguised. Auston wanted no one to know when it was coming.” " - full article here by Alex Prewitt

If you want to be great, you cannot accept your reality.

You must expect it to change and then work with everything you have for it.

Even if things are going well like they were for Matthews in 2017, you must have a burning desire to change.

Now, I know everyone in the Identity Shift Community hears me talking about talk being present and at peace a lot.

But in this letter, I want to do something a little different.

I want to talk about using your emotions and your ego to become a better player.

It's something I think Auston Matthews is finally starting to master.

Here's how you can do it too.

The Power Of Emotions

We can never fully remove emotions from our lives.

There will always be things that 'trigger' emotions in some way.

Some people may try to suppress their emotions when they arise, but they are still there.

We may not always know what those triggers are for emotions, but they will find a way to arise.

I teach players how to rewire a lot of their responses to triggers in The Next Level Accelerator

In today's letter let's talk about how to use the emotions you already have.

In entrepreneurship, the first rule is - use what you've got (from Alex Hormozi).

This applies to hockey as well.

Use your emotions as a performance booster and get ready to discover an entirely new level to your game.

Emotions Are Like Fuel

Certain emotions like anger have immense power.

They can really help us or really hurt us depending on how we use them.

Emotions are kind of like adding rocket fuel to a gas engine (or NOS).

You can run without them, but it's nice to have more fuel to work with.

An emotion like anger gives you a more powerful fuel source.

But, it can be very dangerous if you do not understand how to use it effectively.

Think of a 'gasoline player' like the way Auston Matthews typically plays.

He stays very cool, calm, and composed.

He actually is able to manage his emotions and calm them extremely well.

In most games, he is like a robot - cool, calm, and emotionless.

This helps him be quite a consistent player.

Consistency can get you pretty far as a player.

It had gotten Matthews very far.

But, I think for him to take the next step as a leader, he must learn to channel his emotions instead of calm them.

He needs to learn to use this rocket fuel to increase his competitive level and find that extra playoff gear.

I believe that this would make him the leader that he needs to be for the Leafs to take that next step toward a cup.

Now we have seen glimpses of this rocket fuel.

During this shift, you can tell he had that rocket fuel in him:

Or this goal after his previous goal was called off:

The problem I have noticed with Matthews is that he doesn't always have this intensity.

When playoff time comes, running on gasoline doesn't work for him any more anymore.

Being calm, cool, and collected doesn't work when other players are playing like it is life or death.

Matthews and many players need that rocket fuel.

He found it in that shift against Tampa.

We started to see what Matthews could do in their 2023 playoff run.

He actually started to leverage his emotions.

In previous playoff series, he seemed to lack a powerful "reason" to play.

It seemed like the only reason he was there was 'to reach expectations.'

'To reach expectations' is not a motivating mental frame to have going into a playoff series.

Another reason may also have been that he thought it was better to calm his emotions when under pressure.

Players are often taught this because they get anxious before the game.

This seems great, but when the playoffs get intense players need to rise to the intensity (or even set the intensity).

The solution is often not to calm down in these big games.

For Auston to rise to the occasion, he needs to generate and channel strong controlled emotions so he can elevate his game every single game.

Maybe you need to do the same thing...

Maybe that is why you are still reading...

How Emotions Work

Before we go any further, let's break down emotions for a second.

Emotions are evolutionarily adaptive.

This means that emotions have helped us survive as humans.

Simply put, emotions start as warning signals to the body.

(There is much more to this, but this is all we really need to know to have this be useful as a hockey player).

I learned this all through studying evolutionary psychology.

Emotions have helped us survive for hundreds of thousands of years.

They were the thing that motivated us to run from lions, and or fight off predators in order to protect our families.

By nature, emotions are not a bad thing.

The problem with emotions is that strong emotions do not work perfectly for hockey players.

That's because they are hard to harness.

Rocket Fuel

Emotions are kind of like rocket fuel.

They can get a rocket to space OR they can make a rocket explode into a million pieces.

The emotion of anger is a perfect example of this.

Anger gets a bad rap because of the times it causes us to blow up and lose control.

But, if channelled properly, anger is pure rocket fuel.

Anger can give you the intensity you need to get things done in training on the days you want to quit.

Anger can allow you to make that big hit to get your team back into the game.

It can also allow you to make that big net drive in overtime when your body wants to quit.

Think of Matthew Tkachuk in the 2023 playoffs.

He was leveraging his anger perfectly.

You could tell he had a chip on his shoulder.

You could tell that he was on a mission to win.

The anger fueled Florida to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Negative Side Of Anger

It's not all sunshine and rainbows though.

Anger can also cause you to blow up and out and become out of control (like a rocket ship blowing up mid-flight)

Think of a player getting angry, taking a silly penalty in OT, and costing their team the game.

Think of a player screaming at his coach and getting benches for the rest of the game.

Think of a player getting angry and refusing to try anymore in the next shifts and costing the team a valuable goal.

You can see how this wouldn't take a player too far if they just had unchanneled anger.

The key here is to give your emotions a direction.

This allows you to channel the emotion into the actions you want like a rocket pushes downward and drives the ship up (yes I know this is a corner analogy haha)

If you do not learn this, you will blow up and take lose out on your potential.

A Blue-Hot Torch Of Anger

If you have anger, you might as well use it, right?

Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan were athletes famous for using this anger to dominate in basketball.

Tim Grover (their mental and physical coach for their pro careers) talked in his book 'Relentless' about how he would encourage them to use anger as a fire inside them that could be used for good.

"All Cleaners have that slow-burning, blue-hot internal anger, and it works if they can control and maintain it." - Tim Grover (I'm paraphrasing here)

Blue flames are extremely powerful because they are controlled and condensed heat.

Think of how hot a gas stove flame is.

And a blue hot torch can literally melt steel -> because it is even more condensed and runs on a more powerful fuel.

When anger is used for good, it should feel like a blue hot flame inside your body.

It should almost feel good when you learn how to control it

Here is how to control it and channel it

The Technique To Channel Your Anger

Us this technique to contain the anger nd convert it into a fuel that motivated you to play better and train harder.

1. Imagine something that pissed you off in the past, day, month, year, etc.

2. Feel the emotions in your body.

3. Notice what part of the body it's in.

4. Now notice the warm sensation it brings to that area.

5. Imagine it like a blue hot flame in that area of your body

6. Breath deep and just sit with the feeling for a few breaths

7. Now realize that you can control this blue hot flame.

8. As you breathe, notice how you can contain the flame like holding the anger in your hands. You can almost feel the strength in your body increase.

9. Now that you are harnessing the flame you can use this flame to create an intense focus, motivation, aggression or whatever you want it to be.

WARNING #1 - A Raging Fire

You must be careful though...

As Uncle Ben says in the old Spiderman movie:

"With great power, comes great responsibility."

You must be careful not to let this flame of anger turn into a raging forest fire.

As I mentioned before, anger can control you if you are not careful.

When it takes you over you are very likely to take penalties, make mistakes, and lose trust with your coach.

Scouts also hate seeing players who can't control their emotions.

If you want to maximize your on-ice performance, you must learn to harness your anger and then direct it in a way that helps you.

Use the technique above for 2-3 minutes before any challenging thing you are about to do and watch how it motivates you to train harder and push through your doubts.

This will lead you to become more confident because you are training more and harder.

This Starts an upward Spiral towards become a dominant player.

WARNING #2 - Where NOT to Aim Your Anger

Like I have said multiple times, anger is a beautiful fuel when used for good.

Right now you may be aiming that anger at your coaches, your teammates, the economy, the limited ice resources you have, etc.

Being angry at these things is not only pointless, it is actually counterproductive.

It is pointless unless you are going to go change them in some way.

Directing anger at something you cannot / will not change is wasted fuel.


The Best Place To Direct Your Anger

The one thing that I believe all people CAN do is CHANGE THEMSELVES.

You can change your own mind, body, and skill set.

So if you are not where you want to be, you must direct your anger at that.

If someone said something mean direct it into playing harder and training harder.

Be angry at where you are in your abilities.

Respect yourself enough to know that you have much more inside of you to get out.

You don’t need to hate yourself.

Just hate the idea of staying where you are.

Hate the idea of failing to reach your potential.

This is not to be done in some sad and depressing way.

Instead, this can be powerful and exciting.

You want to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself:

  • Am I REALLY going to keep doing what I am doing?

  • Am I REALLY going to let myself be controlled by these external circumstances?

  • Is my lack of money, opportunity, skill, etc the reason I never reach my potential?

  • Is the fear of failing really going to prevent me from going all in?

Instead, tell yourself:

  • I am going to change.

  • I am going to act regardless of my circumstances.

  • I am going to invest in myself.

  • I am going to be fearless and go after what I want unapologetically.

Getting Back Into Alignment

Let's get you back in alignment and ease that stress you were feeling at the beginning of this article.

Ask yourself:

1. What is out of alignment?

2. What am I going to do to get in back into alignment?

3. What help do I need to create a road map I can be confident in?

This form will help with that by helping you see what's lacking and then we can see how we can help.

This is your chance to really shift everything.

You are not satisfied with where you are.

So use the Anger Harnessing Technique from above if you need to here.

You have generated that rocket fuel.

Now let's use it to make you better.

Let's not let this anger turn into sadness.

Being sad and sorry for yourself is a downward spiral to depression.

I have been there.

It is NOT where you want to be - TRUST ME

Enough of that.

Let's get to work my friend.

And let's have some fun.

Let's shift your identity.

Time to level up.

- Corson

BTW if you are interested in taking your game to the next level -> check this out THE NEXT LEVEL HOCKEY ACCELERATOR

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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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