The ABCs of Hockey According to Saul L. Miller

In sports, especially in high-pressure situations like a game, practice, or tryout, it’s not just physical skills that matter; your mental game is equally critical. Saul Miller’s book “Hockey Tough” offers a valuable concept known as the “Hockey ABCs” to simplify and manage your mindset, ensuring you don’t overthink and play indecisively when it matters most. The beauty of this concept is that it extends well beyond the realm of hockey and can be applied to any sport.

The cornerstone of Miller’s “Hockey ABCs” is what he calls “Power Thinking.” This approach involves defining your strategy and personal thoughts to ensure that your mind is primed for peak performance. Here’s how it works:

  1. Strategy (Situational Thinking): Miller encourages hockey players to draw and define roles in various in-game situations. Whether it’s the power play, forechecking schemes, or penalty kills, having a clear understanding of your role on the ice helps you make quick decisions and execute your responsibilities effectively. This strategic clarity provides athletes with a roadmap for success and eliminates indecisiveness.

But it’s not just about hockey; you can transfer this aspect of Power Thinking to any sport. Just as in hockey, athletes in other disciplines can benefit from mapping out their roles in different scenarios, ensuring they always know what to do. Map out your x and o strategy on three essential and common plays.

2. Personal Thoughts (Performance Cues): The second component of Power Thinking focuses on personal thoughts that instill confidence in yourself and your abilities. These can be affirmations, performance cues, mantras, or even something as unique as your own “spirit animal” for inspiration.

For instance, you might repeat mantras like:

– “I am mobile, fast, and quick to the puck.”

– “Head up and see the ice on breakouts.”

– “I get stronger, tougher, and wiser each shift.”

– “I am like a panther hunting – always moving, eyes open, ready to strike.”

These personalized thoughts help build and reinforce confidence, crucial for consistent and confident performance on the field, court, or ice.

The real magic of Saul’s Power Thinking happens when you combine these elements: your strategic understanding of your role and your empowering personal thoughts on how you wish to play. Together, they create a synergy that leads to empowering feelings and acts as the building blocks of a solid mental game and high performance.

Power thinking will be covered in my client sessions with a concentration on your sport.