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How To Scientifically Evolve In Hockey (Learn From Ovechkin)

Updated: Jan 4

I always came into every hockey season with high hopes.

I’d always say things like:

"This is my year!"

"This year I am going to score 100 points!"

"This year I am going to become the player I always wanted to be!"

Sometimes I would even have a hot start to the season and start thinking my dreams were about to come true.

My hopes would be super high to start every single season.

I remember in my 19 year old year, I had about 13 points in my first 7 games.

I thought my career was about to transform.

I thought I had finally made it.

I was going to be a 2 point a game player in the GOJHL.

"Once I do that, then you can make the jump to the BCHL with ease!" I thought

After a big year in BC I figured making NCAA D1 would be easy.

That’s not what happened.

By christmas of that same year, I had fallen back to a point per game mark.

A point per game is good, but I knew I needed more points to go D1.

Therefor when I finished that year with 40 points in 36 games, I was disapointed.

My stats were not much better than I had gotten the previous season with 41 points in 50 games.

The main problem was that I was so wrapped up in points that I lost sight of what mattered.

I stopped focusing on the key areas of my game that were setting me apart from other players.

I had lost myself.

I felt stuck.

I lost clarity on who I was.

I believed that I had to by a high flying Mcdavid like player in order to reach my potential.

But, the real problem was that I was thinking from a limited perspective.

I could not see that I should not try to replicate really any of what Mcdavid does.

We all have our own strengths and weaknesses.

Se don’t all know what do do with them.

We don’t all know how to evolve and work with them.

We don’t all know how to evolve our game over time.

I certainly didn’t get it.

I also didn't want to listen to my dad when he tried to correct me.

Don’t be silly like I was.

A Simple Mistake Leads To A Large Issue

I would always start out pretty well after a break, then my game would fade back to inconsistency.

I noticed the pattern, but I couldn't figure out what was causing my inconsistency.

It was easy to assumed that I just wasn't working hard enough.

But I really don’t think hard work was not the issue.

The problem was that physically I would do the work, but mentally I was always trying to convince myself I was good.

I would study lots of sports physchology books, but I never really applied anything.

I would try meditating for a bit, then stop.

I would try visualization for a little while and then stop.

The Systems Problem

The problem was that I had no real system to get better.

Instead of creating a real system, I was just throwing stuff at the wall.

I would just show up to skills coaches and trainers and say "fix me"

If something didn't work instantly, I would stop doing it after a week or two.

The real problem was:

  1. I didn't have a wholistic system

  2. I didn't stick to it long enough to see the results

I didn't have a clear overview of how to approach my days, weeks, months, and years.

I was always just winging it (are you just winging it)

If I did find something that might help me, I never stuck around to see the long term benefits.

I wanted quick results.

But the best results don’t come in the short term.

I talk about this in more detail here on the 25 skills you must master to play pro hockey.

Long Term Thinking

It's like lifting weights.

After one workout, your muscles won't grow.

But after 50 workouts, things can start to dramatically change.


Systems are planned actions that allow you to make big things happen over time.

If you want to make it far make a system and follow it for years, not days or weeks.

Then watch what happens.

What If You Follow The Wrong Path?

I get this objection.

"What if I am not following the right plan for me?" you ask.

"What if I spend years doing something and it was wrong?"

This is my answer:

It’s not about doing the exact same thing forever.

Its about following the same PRINCIPLES.

And then evolving these priciples as you learn more.

This is what make the greats great.

Great athletes evolve

Take Alex Ovechkin for example...

Alex Ovechkin’s Evolution

Let look at how Alex Ovechkin has has to evolve his game.

Stage 1 - Risky

When he was early in his career, he was dynamic, fast, and risky.

He would try anything to score.

This worked for a while and he followed these principles.

Stage 2 - Safe

But then over time, he had to change.

To have team success he has to learn to play safe, smart, and efficiently.

Sure you could still see flashes of his early style, but he had clearly evolved.

Stage 3 - Simple

Then finally, he entered the simple stage.

This is where he is at now in 2023.

Now he plays a much more simple game.

He focuses on being in the right spots.

He doesn’t push things too hard anymore.

I wouldn't say this helps the team much, but it helps his stay in the league.

Ovechkin has learned to follow a process of testing and interating.

He is like a scientist.

Great Players Are Like Scientists

Great players are always testing new things and trying to improve.

But like a good scientist, they dont change too many things at once.

They test one or two variables at a time.

They get feedback, then they test again.

That’s the key to your success in hockey.

Here is The Scientific Method applied to getting into a flow state before games:

(flow state is that optimal zone where you are deeply focused and playing at your best)

1) Set Target - I want to be more focused and get into flow state every game.

2) Make Hypothesis - I think meditating daily (for 10 minutes) for a month will make more more focused.

3) Test - Do the meditations for a month.

4) Analyze Results - What happened? Were you more focused? What other effects did you see if any?

5) Make New Hypothesis - Based on these results I am going to try meditating for 2 minutes per day for a month.

The cycle repeats.

This is how you actually get better.

You need to test things for at least 4 weeks to see what happens.

Give it 30 days.

If nothing changes, then test a new hypothesis.

If something does change, then run with it and test something in a new area.

This is the methodology you must adopt if you want to progress in your career for the long term.

Next week we will dig into the magic three hypothesis to test out this season.

I hope this was a good mental software update for you this week.

Thanks for reading.

  • Corson

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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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