The Art of Simple

In the hockey world there have been changes over the last few days. Montreal, Philadelphia, and Vancouver both cleaned house. The Ottawa Senators brought up players either out of necessity due to CV-19 or just poor play. What is interesting is that there is a cycle that happens when this occurs. The average fan does not see this cycle, they just want a change because their team is losing. Sure, when a new Coach or Senior Manager comes into the organization there is an immediate response. The team goes on a short run or we see improved play because players view it as a fresh start or a new opportunity. All the baggage from previous Coaches and or Managers gets pushed to the past. The “new voice” in the room is really just a result of athletes just focusing on what made them successful in the first place. It renews the athletes motivation as new systems and tactics get introduced. What they seem forget that this only lasts for a short period of time.

After that teams and athletes will fall into a comfort zone believing they have it all figured out. Well, that opens the doors to our old friends expectations and potential, and the uninvited guest called outcomes. You see, there is no matrix that measures an athletes or teams expectations level, their potential level, and the uninvited guest called outcome. The focus that made things simple and easy gets messed up because they try to improve simple. When this happens the mind becomes cluttered and slows down the ability to process in game information. The buzz term in hockey now is “playing fast”. That does not mean skating 90 miles an hour around the ice. It means processing in game information quickly so the team or athlete can do things before their opponent can. This is a direct result of simple. Good Coaches know how to teach simple and not let players/athletes complicate it. The best examples I see now are Daryl Sutter and Rod Brind Amour. There teams are well taught in simple and yet perform at a high level.

Every team crashes at some point in the season, and you will hear “we have to get back to the basics”. What they are really saying is we have complicated simple and need to refocus on the art of simple. Good Coaches recognize this quickly because they understand how the cycle of learning works and how fear and anxiety can erode an athlete or a teams confidence. When this happens you get what we saw in Vancouver, Montreal, and Philadelphia as they were just trying to survive every game. The end result was Coaching and GM changes.

As for the situation in Ottawa, their 3 game winning streak was ended last night and truth be told I did see some marginal improvement. Let’s see if they can master the art of simple over the next few games as they play Tampa twice and Florida. I am looking for improved focus and commitment, which should result in improved play.

Thanks to Dr. Bhrett McCabe for writing a great article called The Steps to Mastery.

My journey of learning and understanding continues.

Until next time!

Follow on Twitter: @Betweentheears2

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