As I sit here getting ready to play just my third professional ice hockey game here in Sweden in the past month and a half, I notice that I have two minds about my current preparation. The first has a dialogue that sounds like: you’ve been here for over a month, you’ve been practicing and working out the whole time. You’re ready.
But there’s a quieter side saying: it’s been almost a month since I played a game, today might be harder than usual, maybe you should keep it simple, your legs might not be ‘there’ yet. Even though the second voice is definitely laced with some negativity and self-doubt, I still don’t think it’s a bad thing to listen and understand where those feelings are coming from because they are valid in some ways.
Before I continue, I want to clarify that I don’t believe all of those statements at face value. I don’t believe that my legs won’t be ‘there’ at the level of fitness I need them to be, I don’t believe that my skill set isn’t where it needs to be to execute the way I want to. This is where an important piece of self-awareness practice comes in for me when I ask: Why is it that these thoughts and feelings would come up in the first place? The answer is simple–there are some nerves at play and I have a lot of experience when it comes to this type of situation.
Essentially, I’m feeling a combination of some anxiety (coming through as feelings of self-doubt) which is completely normal and a combination of all of my past lived experiences in similar situations (getting back into games after a period of time off). What I have to do at this point is ask myself, which of these things will help me perform at my peak potential. I can tell you right off the bat that anything that causes me to feel self doubt is not one of them. When I sift through everything and think about it, what I take from all of the feelings I’m feeling is this:
- Nerves are normal–it doesn’t make you a bad athlete
- Keeping it simple is a great way to re-establish some confidence early on
- My training has prepared me for this
- My preparation is enough; I am enough
- I am ready.
– Coach Lauren