When you practice two skills at once, you improve twice as fast. Here’s an easy way to brush up on the weakest part of your game while training mental skills. Let’s say you’re practicing something you’re genuinely bad at, like:
Shooting on your non-dominant hand
Receiving passes on your backhand
Sinking three’s from the wing
Playing the puck
The short game
When you practice what you aren’t great at, wanting to quit early, phone it in, and not enjoying yourself are normal. Those feelings as well as frustration, a desire to do something you’re good at instead, or calling it ‘dumb’ to work on that specific thing is common, too. That’s where mental training and, specifically, mindfulness comes into play.
Mindfulness means more than paying attention to the present. It includes an openness to experience, whatever that experience may be. When you want to ‘turn away’ from practicing a new or difficult skill, you practice your mindfulness by repeatedly turning back toward the drill and engaging with full effort. You view the challenging thoughts and feelings that come alongside working on what you don’t do well as a natural ‘part of the process.’ This perspective helps you stay clear headed and focused on improving your game as much as possible.
Building this openness into your training teaches you the fundamentals of managing difficult emotions. When you’re frustrated or feel like ‘checking out’ during a game that isn’t going your way, you’re used to facing feelings down and playing with full focus and effort instead.