Minnesota Hockey Journal

March 2023

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Page 16 of 33

M A R C H 2 0 2 3 | M H J ON L I N E . C O M 17 LISTEN TO YOUR BODY Getting rest or a good night 's sleep is vital to preparation. W hile a college program has the advantage of employing strength coaches and athletic trainers, players should try to develop these good habits as soon as they can. "I think rest is probably the biggest thing," he said. "The phrase that comes to mind is: 'Rest is a weapon.' It 's not sleep- ing all day, but you're well-rested so your energ y levels are good for what you're going to need in a practice or a game." Nutrition is also key. "Nutrition, staying hydrated—get the things you need for optimal performance," he said. "Stay away from the fast food, and get some quality vegetables and protein in you." BE OBSERVANT Pay attention to the little things happening around you, even if it 's what a coach is say ing to another player. You just might learn something. "Really be obser vant and watch and listen to what 's going on," Kirtland said. "Because you can pick up little things that can help you in the long run." If you're not sure how to do a drill, go to the back of the line, make sure you're listening to instructions and watching teammates. "Know the drill you're doing, and do it right," he said. "Then finish the drill, get back in line, get a sip of water and watch Every player's pre-game routine is unique. Experiment with different approaches to help best prepare you for the opening faceoff. the nex t group while you're waiting. Do what you need to get ready so you have a pur pose to what you're doing and you're not getting caught going through the motions." FIND A ROUTINE No t wo players are going to prepare the same way. However, getting to the rink early and hav ing a pre-practice or pre- game routine can help any player prepare for what 's a head. It might be stretching or rolling out muscles. It might be goa l- tenders juggling tennis ba lls. It might be riding the station- ar y bike or simply rela xing and concentrating on breathing. It 's physica l preparation that can help menta l preparation. "I think those routines are the biggest things you can do," Kir tland said. "Fig ure out your routine but a lso ask if what you're doing is helping you get prepared. Do something to get your mind and body ready. Go v isua lize or meditate. Or see yourself in dif ferent situations that you're going to encounter in a game. I think a ll that stuf f 's great. "At the end of the day, everybody 's different. So my advice for younger kids is if you find a useful exercise and you feel you're getting something out of it, and it 's beneficial, keep going with it. If you feel your energ y level isn't where you want it to be or you're not alert for the start of practice, figure out ways to change that.

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