Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Gift of Patience

Sometimes you don't know what you really need until you get it, but I got what I needed tonight: the Gift of Patience.

As I mentioned in my game report from the Toyota Center game Saturday, I wasn't happy with my play and was honestly left with a bad taste in my mouth and a good bit of disappointment in myself.

But Coach Dan came by my net tonight during practice and talked to me about it. Told me he thought I did a good job against higher level players and he was happy with my performance. He was very kind, even though I told him how unhappy I was with my play.

Now, I'll say this, I'm not letting myself off the hook, but there's disappointing myself and there's disappointing others. I react to those two things differently and they weigh on me differently. When I'm disappointing myself, I know what I need to work on to get "back to good" with myself. When I disappoint others, man, that's so much worse to me because I don't know what it will take to fix the problem. So I spin on it and become even less effective at solving the problem.

So, having that weight off my mind is a blessing and I'm reminded how lucky I am to have this group of people by my side, not only my Sunday night bunch, but the guys on Tuesday who love me simply because I show up consistently. Hey, some jackass has to win the Attendance Award, right?

Anyway, I spent most of the weekend feeling crappy about that game, but it was sort of under the surface and getting mixed up with a raging case of PMS. But I left hockey tonight feeling cleansed.

Part of that was that it was just a darn good practice. The skaters worked on stuff that I think is really going to help them be better hockey players. More fundamental stuff, like passing and wrist shots. And I finally got the balls to talk to one of the coaches and say, "Okay, look, I've got these things I need to work on. Can I bail on the skating drills and have a shooter and just do goalie stuff?"

Ah! It was perfect! Peed got some pucks and I told him I wanted to work on this situation with my right pad not flipping up, so just put a bunch of low shots on me.

I started out landing on top of my pad every time, but after about 6 shots, I started getting the pad flipped every time. I nearly cried, I was so happy. So, I think that's going to be part of my practice routine until that pad is flipping up EVERY time I drop into the fly. I know it's not going to stick from this one practice, but getting that muscle memory going is great. This was part of me fixing my disappointment in myself, so I'm proud of having taken charge of making sure I got what I needed out of my practice time.

Jessica is in goal for the red team now (I LOVE that she's loving the position so much!), so she jumped in on the shooting and we rotated out with Peed and Sutton shooting on us. It was good, until they did breakaways on us. I'm not sure I stopped any of them. I called it the "Why I Love Defensemen" drill.

Anyway, it was a good, cathartic night of practice. It was what I needed in a lot of ways.

Sometimes the perfect song is out there, too:

Changing subjects a bit, I've also been talking a bit with a guy, Shaun Smith, I've met through Twitter who works with goalies (and other athletes) on the mental side of the game. If you're a Twitterfied goalie and not following @absolutemental, you're really missing out.

He does some great articles for The Goalie Guild and I've gotten a lot out of them, but I'm lately getting increasingly frustrated by my reaction to praise during a game. I've mentioned it here before, but now it's becoming a really ingrained problem and I'm not sure what to do about it, other than get ear plugs. :)

I think what's happening (or at least how the problem originally started) is that when someone tells me I'm playing well, I start to "value" my "good game" too much. I suddenly feel this added pressure to maintain whatever goodness I have going on.

Naturally, that changes my focus from just playing the game with a quiet mind to what I'm calling "I've Gotta..." thoughts, like I've gotta keep playing well, I've gotta make sure I don't screw up. NOISE! Augh.

And now, this has happened so many times, not only do I have THAT reaction, there's the, "Oh shit, why'd you have to say that! Don't you know praise throws me off? Okay, gotta stay focused. Forget about it."


I've tried ignoring them, but some guys are so persistently nice, they'll keep saying it until I acknowledge them (yes, I play with people who are really that nice... like I said, I'm blessed).

I've got a few of them, including our regular ref, trained to not say anything at all.

But this is my problem and I need to deal with it. Because frankly, I LOOOOOVE positive reinforcement and praise and all that other great stuff. The more the better! Adore me and my brilliant work!!! I live for it.

Which kinda makes me think that perhaps the ORIGINAL-original problem BEFORE the original problem I stated above is that I'd let up if someone praised me. Like, "Okay, I did good. And that wasn't too hard. So, maybe I don't have to worry so much." Um, no, if you don't worry about the puck, you don't stop the puck, smarty.

So, as with mental hangups, it kinda circles back on itself a few times. But the bottom line is that I'm still not sure what to do about it. I almost think if there was some way to break the thought cycle, right in the moment, that might help. Or some kind of mental cue like touching my posts or a stick tap or something that tells me it's okay to not worry about what that praise represents. To hear it, acknowledge it, and then send it into the universe somehow.

I remember reading that Thomas Edison or some other really smart guy used to write down his worries during the day so that they were acknowledged, but he could stay focused on the task at hand and not actively worry about them.

I wonder if a cue like that might work, where I mentally send the praise to the locker room to enjoy it later, but not let it disrupt my current focus. Hmm...

I'd say I'd try that Tuesday night, but I don't get a lot of praise at drop-ins. But it might still be a decent cue for when I make a save I'm particularly proud of. "Send it to the room, enjoy it later, you still have work to do."

If you made it this far, thoughts?


buddhafisch  October 19, 2009 at 8:41 AM  

Not sure who the really smart guy was that wrote own his worries, but I do the exact same thing. Works every time. Obviously you cannot do that in a hockey game, but you need to do something to get out of your head.

The only thing that should be in your head is "Where is the puck?" That's it. That's your job, your life, when you are on that ice. Where is the puck.

The pad flipping, the glove work, all of that... is for practice. During a game it is "Where is the puck?" I used to make a habit of during intermissions and an other stoppage of watching where the ref went with the puck. I always wanted to know where that damn thing was.

Of course, it took me a good five or six years after I stopped playing to be able to not carry a puck with me (The scene in Happy Gilmore about killed me.). I had to know "Where is the the puck" even in my "real" life.

Try things. Anything. Get out of your head while on the ice. Someone says something to you about the game you are playing, ask them where the puck is. Seriously.

"Great game so far, H"

"Yeah, but where is the puck?"

Ms. Conduct  October 19, 2009 at 9:16 AM  

Thanks B, I like that. The more tools I can have in my arsenal the better. That's a great one.

Nick  October 19, 2009 at 5:20 PM  

I've read your blog a couple times off and on once in a great while ... you're way funny. I've never wrote you before, just had to say that. Either way, I enjoy reading your blog.

I think my suggestion with what I'm about to say/write doesn't get as deep as your issue with praise, but something you said really stuck with me ...

"... something that tells me it's okay to not worry about what that praise represents."

Don't call me sexist, but this is just total feminine behavior (which is okay!). It's classic 'guys think this way' and 'girls think that way' in the sense of how men and women communicate so very differently. Have you ever heard (mostly in those relationship type studies) that when guys say something, that's what they mean. There's no hidden message because guys are simple, straightforward and don't play any games. Women on the other hand don't always say something for its literal interpretation. They say it for the reaction, or worse they usually mean to convey something else entirely. Kind of like when women beat themselves up wondering, 'well, why did she say that?' instead of just taking it at face value.

My bottom line advice is, take praise at face value. It's actually hidden where I quoted: "it's okay to not worry about what that praise represents". Unless it's coming from another woman, then you're free to overanalyze and try and figure out what she was really saying. ;-)

Hope this helps, sorry for the rant!

Ms. Conduct  October 19, 2009 at 5:33 PM  

Aww, thanks for the compliment, Nick. I'll try not to freeze up and become unfunny due to the praise. :D

I understand what you're saying about women and I agree, which is why my group of women-friends is small and awesome. Chicks who do that passive aggressive stuff make me nuts. I'm not like that and I've found the more I'm around guys, that it's pretty shocking to some of them for a woman to just say what she thinks without couching it in sweetness or whatever to make it seem more passive. Which is why I know that guys who can handle me are guys worth my time. :)

That said, that's not really what I meant by that statement. I absolutely know my teammates mean it at face value, without question. It's the meaning *I'm* adding to it that's the problem (which probably IS the fem side in me coming out... the overanalysis and whatnot). Which is why I used the word "represents" as it's more an internal thing in terms of assigning meaning myself.

Snikpip  October 21, 2009 at 1:32 AM  

The phrase "Talk to me again and I'll cut off yer fu---ng head with a pair of fungused-up toenail clippers." comes to mind.

Ms. Conduct  October 21, 2009 at 1:41 AM  

LOL Nahhh, I love my teammates! The nicest one of all, who is just relentless in his praise, is the one I nutted a while back! He STILL that nice to me!

I'm so undeserving.

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