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How Mindfulness Can Bring Success on the Ice

By Dan Pollard, 11/14/17, 1:45PM EST


Breakaway Podcast presented by Dodge Caravan Kids

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Photo Credit: Brian Woo

When hockey players discuss their sport it is often about the physical aspect of the game – the skating, shooting, scouting opponents. The mental aspect of the game can sometimes be overlooked because that’s more of a personal factor and doesn’t affect the team as a whole. But what if players could improve how they perform on the ice simply by taking a few minutes to focus on their mindfulness?

Former first round NHL draft pick Kris Beech has seen a lot. The pressure of being a high draft choice (3rd overall in the 1996 WHL Bantam Draft, 7th overall in the 1999 NHL Draft) and being involved in one of the most high profile trades of the last 25 years when he was dealt for Jaromir Jagr, Beech struggled to find the best version of himself on and off the ice. It created a weight on his mind that at one point he thought he’d never overcome.

Through this adversity, Beech found new ways to train his own mind in order to enable optimum performance whether you’re playing hockey, coaching hockey, or just watching hockey from the couch.

"We like to say in mindfulness that attention is currency. What you place your attention on is valuable."

Beech, now a mindfulness coach with Aim Mindfulness, said using mindfulness and mediation techniques helped him derail negative thoughts throughout his career. It’s as simple as sitting in a calm, quiet space for about 10 minutes. Focusing on breathing and the body, mediation can train the ability to focus and increase attention span which can then be applied to every day activity.

It’s not just for athletes. Mindfulness can work for everyone.

“We like to say in mindfulness that attention is currency. What you place your attention on is valuable.”

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A veteran of almost 200 NHL games over parts of eight seasons, Beech had to deal with the added pressures of being a high-performance athlete. As a young player, he’d pay attention to the negative aspects and the expectations that came along with being a high draft pick.

Beech goes on to explain that development is not always going to be a linear path. With obstacles along the way, there’s going to be different ways of getting to the end goal. How players adapt and adjust to changes is key to navigating the situation in a healthy way and can help lead to consistent performance.

“One thing that I’ve learned, is that feeding the hype around players, and I’ve experienced it, is something that we need to be aware of. I think these techniques, helping kids focus their attention on the present moment, can definitely help handle keeping reigns on some of that hype and future expectations of what they should be.”


Dan Pollard is the host of Breakaway, The Minor Hockey Podcast. His passion for hockey led him to volunteer as a coach and administrator while his professional career has allowed him to cover the game at various levels with CBC, Sportsnet, the NHL Network and TSN. You can currently hear Dan every morning on 105.5 Hits FM in Uxbridge.

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