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Optimizing your Pre-Game Routines for Hockey (How to Prepare like NHLers)

There is no better feeling than stepping on the ice for a game and knowing you have done everything to prepare.

Knowing you have prepared mentally, physically, and skill-wise.

Then seeing it all come together.

Controlling the game and dominating.

This is a feeling I want you to have for every season, for every game and every practice.

I know most of you are experiencing at least one of these feelings...

1. You are confused as to where to begin (and desperately want clear answers)

2. You have some routines but you know there is more you can do to be better

3. Are performing inconsistently on the ice and have a feeling your preparation leading to game-day is a problem to be fixed.

This article is to help both groups.

You will know clearly what boxes to tick off. So that you can perform on the ice at a high level consistently and become a reliable asset to your team!

Let's dig deeper

Preparing To Succeed

It's a special feeling when you see all your preparation pays off.

You work your ass off:

  • In the off-season

  • In practice

  • at the gym

  • on the yoga mat

  • on the shooting pad

  • In the film room

You do this all so you can show up and be the best player you can be in the game.

You work hard in the dark so you can show off in the light.

But what if you do all this prep work, then get to the game day and still feel off?

What if you do not perform in games the way you do in training/practice?

If this is what you are dealing with, I will help you with this article.

I can help because I went through it myself and learned from my mistakes.

I can help because I have helped hundreds of players level up their in-game performance.

But don't take my word for it, try this stuff out, and see if it works. Then try some more.

What Prevents In-Game Performance?

There are many things that get in the way of players having great performances. I am not in front of you right now, so I don’t know exactly what it is for you.

Here's what I have noticed after helping hundreds of players improve their in-game performance.

(This includes Professional, NCAA, Junior, and minor hockey players).

It is very likely you fall into one of these 3 categories:

  1. You are not that good (harsh truth)

I know it’s hard to admit, but sometimes you just are not at the level you want to be… yet.

This is the most common issue I see.

Players claim they have done the work and have not, so they are not as prepared as they could be. Their performance suffers.

The solution: If this is you, I want you to go through this free course to align your mental training, physical training, and skills training.

This will set you up for massive success: Click here to go through the free training 2. You have some sort of mental/performance block

This is the second most common issue I see with players.

This is when a player has the skill but can’t seem to unlock it.

They have worked super hard, but when the games come, they don’t play well.

There is some sort of thing in the way.

It might be…


  • fear

  • doubt

  • lack of self-belief (confidence)

  • Second guessing

It might be a lack of hockey IQ

  • Lack of Awareness

  • Lack of Pattern recognition

  • Poor Decision making

  • Limited Optionality

  • etc…


  • Lack of strength

  • Lack of mobility

  • Lack of speed

  • Lack of coordination

  • etc…


  • lack of skating ability

  • lack of shooting ability

  • lack of stickhandling ability

  • lack of ability to combine skills

  • etc…

If you are struggling to understand what your performance block is, then I recommend you reach out to me.

You can do this by booking a free discovery call.

This call will be about assessing your game and understanding what’s in the way.

That’s why we ask you to submit a video of yourself before each call, so we can see what might be missing.

If we can help you, will let you know.

If we have a program in mind, we will let you know about both our free and paid programs.

Click here to book a free call 3. You are not preparing yourself well for the game

This is the final piece.

If you do not fit into either of those categories, then it is very likely your pregame routine is to blame.

Your pregame routine doesn’t start a few hours before a game.

Well it can, but it won't be as effective as it could be.

I like to think of a client's pregame routine as what they do within about 24 hours of their game.

It's about giving themselves the highest likelihood of success. This means:

  1. What you do the day before the game

  2. What did you do on the day of the game

  3. What you do at the rink before the game

Remember we already covered what to do for your regular training system earlier.

Now, each of these sections has a list of things you can do.

But I like to think of 3 main categories that you want to hit for all three sections leading up to the game:

  1. Mind

  2. Body

  3. Skill

This means you want to make sure that you are mentally, physically, and skill-wise prepared.

I will give you a checklist of things that you may want to make sure you hit for all three pregame times.

This includes:

  1. Night before

  2. Day of

  3. At the rink

Then you can make a copy of the Google doc and organize them into an order you prefer.

Everyone is unique, so find what works best for your game.

If you want support, you can think about joining our group coaching program.

This is why we have live coaching calls 3x a week in the next-level academy.

You can apply here if you are interested in seeing if you are a good fit.

Not let’s go into your checklists. You can download the Google Docs versions here.

Night Before


  • [ ] Watch some game film of players you want to emulate (set your subconscious mind for success)

  • [ ] Complete a programming session

    • [ ] Mental programming Session (before bed)

      • [ ] Breath

      • [ ] Let go of the bad experiences from the week

      • [ ] Clarify who you want to be as a player in the game

      • [ ] See yourself playing successfully

      • [ ] Feel gratitude as if it already happened

  • [ ] Do not over-stress yourself the night before (if possible)


  • [ ] Avoid heavy lifting the day before takes muscles about 72 hours (or 3 days) to recover from hard lift)

  • [ ] Avoid light (especially light that comes from screens like your computers and phones)

  • [ ] Get your ideal amount of sleep

  • [ ] Stretch, roll out

[ ] Deal with any injuries or physical issues you may have Skill

  • [ ] Prep your skills the day before by either skating, shooting, or stickhandling (most teams are on the ice daily of course)

Day Of Game


  • [ ] Meditate and or visualize early in the day (to get your mind calm, confident, and present)

  • [ ] Notice if you have any mental blocks

    • [ ] If you do complete a 30-minute programming session to release those (this is a technique we teach in the Academy and Platinum Membership

Body Right Away

  • [ ] Wake up at a reasonable time (whatever works best for you)

  • [ ] Hydrate with 250-500ml of water, a pinch of pink sea salt (1 pinch forever 250 ml), and a tablespoon of lemon juice (or half a squeezed lemon)

  • [ ] Get sunlight right away (this will set up your hormonal systems and energy systems properly)

As the day goes on:

  • [ ] Do something active such as walk, jog, easy sport, or light workout (find what works best for you)

  • [ ] Eat solid meals that your body responds best to (this should be established beforehand what your body responds best to.

  • [ ] Drink good amounts of water throughout the day (with sea salt to make sure water actually hydrates you)

  • [ ] Can nap 30-90 minutes or complete a yoga nidra session (wake up at least 3 hours out from game)


  • [ ] Ideally a pregame skate

  • [ ] This might mean doing some stickhandling, shooting, rollerblading, etc

    • [ ] Do whatever you feel like your skills are warmed up and firing

At The Rink


  • [ ] Pregame Programming Session

    • [ ] Find a quiet space

    • [ ] Dial in your breathing and do a body scan by bringing your attention toward your body

    • [ ] Next, ask yourself: How do I want to feel? (Calm, confident, happy, relaxed) How do I want to think? (Affirmations: I control the game, I'm a playmaker and will score when I get the chance) How do I want to act? (Visualize yourself making plays, scoring, and having success)

    • [ ] Surrender! Let go of the attachment that you have to have certain things and just ask GOD for these things because they are out of your control. Let go of this attachment as if it's a balloon floating away.

  • [ ] At some point after warm-up have a trigger song that you put on that puts you into the energy state that you want to be in going into the game

    • [ ] I used to like the song “Holllywood Undead by Hollywood Undead” because it got me angry and intense. But you could listen to anything from classical music, EDM, rock, rap, etc. Whatever gets you into the optimal mental state.

    • [ ] I also make custom pregame hypnosis tapes for my guys in the academy and platinum membership to get them into the right zone


  • [ ] Complete your own warm-up and/or the team warmup

    • [ ] Get blood flowing

    • [ ] Get muscles loose and flexible

    • [ ] Get the nervous system firing

    • [ ] A lot of players like to do moving warm-ups

    • [ ] Dynamic Stretch

  • [ ] Play sewer or something fun and active to get your mind and body connected

  • [ ] Optional: cold shower to wake up the nervous system


  • [ ] Do some hand-eye work (like playing keep up with a tennis ball on the wall)

  • [ ] Can do stickhandling

  • [ ] Can do shooting

  • [ ] Passing

  • [ ] Tipping with a teammate

You now have a full checklist that you can follow.

Now it's up to:

  1. Download it

  2. Tweak it (add or remove what you wish)

  3. Put it into a sequential list that you can check off in order (this may change over time)

  4. Go use it and discover how well you can play!!!


- 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.


When You're Ready, Here's How I Can Help You:

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