During a first session with a new skater I always ask, “how are your practices going”? Too often they share with me the details of a bad practice and the many reasons behind what went wrong: I was tired, my skates weren’t sharp enough, other skaters were horsing around and that was distracting me, there were too many other skaters on the session.

I ask them to write down the factors that contributed to the poor practice and from there we classify whether each factor is one that they can control or one that is outside of their control.

For example:

I was tired – within control
Skates weren’t sharp enough – within control
Skaters were horsing around and distracting me – outside of control
Too many skaters on the session – outside of control

Once we move through this exercise then we discuss how they could have changed the outcome of their practice and what they can do differently to make their next practice a success.

The factors within their control are simple to change, they can get their skates sharpened before the next practice and make sure they get to bed an hour earlier so that they aren’t tired.

Where it gets a bit tricky is when we focus on the factors outside of their control. What can they do about the distracting skaters or too many skaters on the session…at first thought there doesn’t seem like much. However, when we dig a little deeper we realize that what we can control is how we see/perceive our environment, those external factors. What does that mean?

Well, once you are aware you perceive something as a distraction you can then take the steps to eliminate this. You can’t change the skaters engaging in the distracting behavior but you can change how you choose to perceive the action.

Ultimately, it’s about taking ownership for your performance on the ice, changing the things in your environment which you can control and working on your thoughts around the things you can’t control because….YOU CONTROL YOUR THOUGHTS!