Where your focus goes, energy flows. I’ve always believed that.

I call it sometimes playing not to lose instead of playing to win which is focusing on the negative instead of focusing on the positive. So what is a negative mistake that you could make in a hockey game? Let’s name that right now. Just one thing.

Yell at someone.

Okay. Yell at someone. So if you were going to not yell at someone, if you have a problem with yelling at someone, what would you tell yourself to get you to not yell at someone?

Maybe saying it in a kind voice. Say it nice.

In a unique way that’s actually the right answer because you’re replacing it with a positive thought. I’ll give you an example from back in the day when I was playing basketball, all right? I think about the high school basketball coach that I had. I was the sixth man when I was a sophomore. Then I started junior and senior year. But I think of the guys that, when I was a sophomore coming off the bench and the first feather guys that would typically come off the bench with me.

The coach was one of those coaches where he would always be emphasizing the negative and he would always be emphasizing the mistakes. And we got so paralyzed as a team where every person that wasn’t a starter and knew that they were guaranteed to have a lot of playing time would come into the game and they would be so afraid of making a mistake that they were tense and couldn’t possibly play their own game. And I wish I would have known this at the time so I could have talked to the coach a little bit about instead of reprimanding us or punishing us for missing shots or playing bad defense, why don’t we focus on the things that we’re supposed to do right?

Like in Colin’s case, instead of not yelling at someone, the worse thing that you could possibly tell yourself would be to don’t yell at someone. Because then all that your brain hears is, “Yell at someone.” That’s a how the brain works. You actually have to pivot that and you have to think about, “I’m going to say it in a kind voice.”

Usually if I ask the question someone will say like, “Miss a shot.” And that’s a pretty simple one. If you’re constantly thinking, “Don’t miss this shot” right before you shoot it, all your brain hears is “Miss the shot” instead of let’s re-direct that to, “What do I need to do to be able to make the shot?”

Accentuating those positives and the positive results that you want instead of trying to avoid that negative part of it. This goes for not only how you interact with each other as team mates but it obviously goes for coaching as well. It is probably the biggest mistake that I see on all levels of competition is reiterating mistakes too much and putting that in people’s heads instead of what do we need to do to perform our best?

Part of the reason that I’m talking about this in regards to effort with the focus and energy is because, how motivated are you going to be if it’s always constantly the mistakes you’re making and you’re getting punished for those and reprimanded? You guys are thinking about those teammates. “God, I can’t believe you made that mistake.” How’s that going to affect your effort? How’s that going to affect your energy?


How many of you have seen the movie, “Miracle”? Okay. You know that scene where Herb Brooks, the coach is making them skate, would you call them skate lines or whatever, where they’re going back and forth, punishing them for not playing well? Punishing them for not doing something? That’s an old school way of looking at it. The new school, the way to empower people and the way to have them actually give more effort is to redirect that to what you WANT people to do.