Interesting article on concentration and focus about NHL Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby this morning in the Washington Post, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has learned to focus and manage his energy.
I liked the discussion of focusing on flicks of water from his water bottle—
When Braden Holtby picks up the water bottle and flicks drops toward the corner of the ice, tracking each with his eyes honed in, the idea is to return his brain to the present and the immediate future, to what’s happening at that very moment and what’s about to transpire in the next. It is a concentration mechanism, odd for a goalie who once only wanted to learn the technical aspects of the game.
“It’s moving, and it’s a little hard to see,” Holtby said of those drops. “It kind of brings me back to neutral.”He also discusses the idea of using breath training to increase or decrease his awareness and concentration as needed—
A sports psychologist by trade, Stevenson — with some help from Greg Holtby — eventually convinced Braden that, in addition to learning which leg to use to get up after going down for a save, he must also learn how to calm himself after a shot, a save, a goal, a win, a loss. Stevenson calls the process “knowing your numbers.”
“Zero is you’re asleep and 10 is you’ve had 900 Red Bulls,” Stevenson said. “And Braden was all over the map. It’d be Friday night, and we’d be playing Medicine Hat, and he’d be a 14. Then Sunday afternoon, he’d be a 2.”
Holtby, then, had to learn some energy management. Stevenson worked with him on breathing techniques meant to bring his “number” back to, say, a 7, regardless of the situation. Holtby understands that “a lot of people think flicking the water bottle is weird.” But it is also a measure of how serious he was about embracing all he needed to become a pro, to get to the NHL — in which he has now played a total of 23 regular season and playoff games. Stevenson taught Holtby how to “recognize, regroup and refocus,” whether the opponent was the Boston Bruins or the Brandon Wheat Kings.
While most of us aren’t playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs tonight (if you are and are reading this, really?) we can all use a bit of that intense focus and concentration in our own lives.
So warning to my office colleagues, if I’m flicking water from the water cooler around on the floor…it’s a concentration practice.