LEADERSHIP

5 Ways to Stay Motivated When You and Your Team Are in a Slump

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Over 17 years ago I created my first company. It has been rewarding and honorable work, but the journey has not been perfect. In my adventure from start-up to an established agency, burnout was frequent and often. I could almost expect the feeling of exhaustion every 2-3 years usually following the high from completing a massive project for a client or accomplishing something personal, like submitting a manuscript for a book. Some of these burnout seasons were managed properly. Others hurt me and my business since I stayed in an unmotivated state for far too long.

The feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion are real and can kill all momentum and progress for anyone or any organization. This includes hockey players and teams. The sport of hockey is not immune to burnout's realities. Seasons are grueling, demanding high levels of energy that can become unsustainable. Motivation may wane, turning the physically and mentally demanding sport into a potential breeding ground for slumps or burnout.

With lengthy seasons, games, and practices, players can struggle to maintain the drive to continue playing. Therefore, it is important to be self-aware and rediscover intrinsic motivation and passion for the game.

So, how does one achieve this goal?

Here are my recommendations for transitioning from burnout to passion in hockey:

Take a Break

If you are reading this post, you are most likely a high performer. Study after study has proven the need for rest. It is essential for success and well-being. Taking a hiatus provides you with the opportunity to take a step back and gain perspective, strengthen your relationships, and come back renewed and stronger.

Obviously, taking a break may not be possible in the middle of a season. However, if you see a bye week approaching or a long holiday, take advantage of the moment. For instance, when I completed my second Ironman in 2013, it was radically clear I needed to take time off from the sport. It was the month of October, and the future weeks were going to be cold and dark and not triathlon friendly so I capitalized on the oppoturnity. My brain and my body needed a break from the pool, the bike, and the run.

So, what did I do?

I stopped. I took time off. No training, and no thoughts of triathlon. I slept in. I reconnected with friends. I rested my body and my brain. The result: I started the next round of training with a renewed spirit and fire. Keep in mind, rest is good but do not abuse your rest. There is a fine line there and I will save that conversation for another day. Bottom line, you know yourself better than anyone else and you know when you have the rest you needed to get motivated and moving again.

Embrace the Right Drivers

Several years ago, I picked up a copy of Dan Pink's book, "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us." It completely changed my outlook on the topic of motivation. At the time, I was running a presentation design agency. It was a small agency, so I was always looking for new ways to attract and retain talent in creative ways. I could not afford paying the big salaries, but I could make up for it with a great work culture, benefits, and doing my best to provide opportunitities to do meaningful work. Enter Dan Pink's book, which provided me with new insights on how to motivate others and keep them engaged with their work. It was a game changer for me and my business and it can provide the same benefits and insights in the world of hockey. In his book, Pink outlines three key drivers of motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Keep in mind, Pink's extensive research from various fields including psychology, neuroscience, and economics were intended mainly for a business use case. However, these drivers still crossover well into the world of sport.

Autonomy: Autonomy is the desire to have control over one's own work and decisions. In hockey, this can manifest as a player making decisions on the ice and encouraging creativity in their play.

Mastery: Mastery is the desire to improve and become better at a skill. In hockey, this can develop as players pushing themselves to improve their skills and work as a team to achieve collective mastery.

Purpose: Purpose is the desire to work towards a greater cause or goal. Hockey players working towards team goals and strive to win championships or titles. Once you establish the goal that drives you, you need to invest time in revisiting your goals.

Set Meaningful Goals

Setting goals is essential for finding motivation. However, it is important to ensure that the goals you set are meaningful to you. This means setting goals that align with your personal values, aspirations, and passions. For instance, rather than simply setting a goal to improve your slap shot, focus on setting a goal to become the best offensive player on your team. It is more precise and will offer you more clarity and purpose.

The good news is, as of this writing, it is still January. A new year offers an opportune moment to hit the reset button and reimagine your hockey career for the months ahead. There is something invigorating about a fresh start, a clean slate as the year unfolds. Setting new and meaningful goals can be a transformative process, capable of reigniting your passion for hockey.

Goals often stem from your overarching objectives. The strategies contributing to the achievement of these goals rely on your habits, rituals, and routines. It is crucial to revisit and reassess these elements as well.

Change Your Routine

I love a good routine but sometimes routines need to be broken. A notable example lies in my workout routine, a shift that has significantly impacted my athletic journey. In the past, I cherished my early morning workouts. The quietude of dawn and the feeling of accomplishment before the day even began were invigorating. However, as time progressed, I recognized the need for a change. Fast forward to the present, and my workouts now find a home in the afternoon. This adjustment did not happen without reason – it was a deliberate choice influenced by various factors.

For instance, the afternoon workout aligns seamlessly with my work and family commitments. Juggling the demands of a career and parenting young children requires a flexible approach, and the post-noon exercise slot provides that flexibility. It allows me to tackle the stress accumulated throughout the workday, offering a welcome release, and revitalizing my energy.

This experience serves as a testament to the importance of flexibility and adaptability in one's routine. While routines provide structure and discipline, recognizing the need for change and being open to new approaches can lead to unexpected benefits and rejuvenation in various aspects of life, particularly in the pursuit of athletic endeavors.

Develop a Support System

I have been a fan of the Edmonton Oilers for quite some time. In their locker room hangs the phrases: "Fast. Hard. Supportive." and "None of Us Are as Strong as All of Us." These messages loudly radiate the important themes of support and team. Hockey is a supportive team sport - in every way. It is one of the components of this game which makes it so beautiful. Lean on your teammates for support. Talk to them. Share your experiences. Work together to overcome challenges. A strong team dynamic can also help you rediscover your love for the game.

Equally important is the creation of a personal support system. This network, comprising friends, family, coaches, and teammates, becomes invaluable for sustaining motivation. Surrounding yourself with positive influences not only keeps you focused but also provides encouragement and challenge during challenging times. Building this support system is key to maintaining enthusiasm and drive throughout your hockey journey.

Parting Advice

Slumps and burnout pose genuine threats to any player, capable of unraveling even the most skilled individuals and teams. They have the power to diminish the exceptional and transform the proficient into struggling performers. Moving forward, the imperative is self-awareness. Know when to take breaks, establish fresh goals, consider altering routines if necessary, and create or find a support group. If you can approach everything with a proactive spirit, burnout can be avoided. If you find yourself in a season of burnout these recommendations can also help you find a way out.




    
ARTICLE BY
Scott Schwertly

Founder and CEO of GritBase - a mental performance coaching company for hockey players. We provide customized mental performance strategies to help yo...





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