Shutting It Off

From the New York Times:

You’re Too Busy. You Need a ‘Shultz Hour.’ https://nyti.ms/2pw0Fv3

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The Difference a Minute Makes

Amazing the difference one minute can make in the world huh? At 11:59pm we’re talking about all the good and bad things that happened in 2016, and then all of a sudden at 12:00am we’re talking about all the things that we will (or won’t) accomplish in 2017.

And it all happened in the span of 60 seconds.

Imagine if all the minutes in your life had that same impact? What if we could completely change our outlook on the future in the next 60 seconds? Produce an optimism and excitement about what’s next rather than dwelling on what happened?

Every minute of your life you make choices. You make the choice to focus on the past or on the future. The choice to build positive or negative habits. You make a choice to take action or live with regret. Every 60 seconds in your life can have the same impact of 11:59pm on New Years Eve.

Happy New Year – may 2017 be a year full of minutes that make a difference.

The Value of Habits

Habits – they seem to be everywhere. Do you make your bed? Brush your teeth? Keep your room clean? The list goes on…

To me, habits are the little things that stand between success and failure. The little things that are the big things. Life is lived on the margins, the line between “making it” and not is so fine. Habits are what will ultimately separate the wheat from the chaff.

There are a lot of people in the world all trying to achieve things. Professionally, there are thousands of people who are trying to climb the ladder. A lot of people can do a lot of jobs, so what’s the difference between those who make it and those who don’t?

It comes down to habits – take care of your habits and you will take care of business.

Passing

One of my peers in the coaching world, Jamie Rice (Head Coach, Babson College, @Ricer18), asked on Twitter about hard passes – are they more technique or mindset? It got me thinking about passing in general and the many elements involved.

Passing is both a technical element of the game as well as a skill. It is one of the first things you learn when you start to play hockey and something that you practice for the rest of your career. Technically speaking, the pieces you need to master to give a good pass include hand placement, grip, spin, loft, speed, touch, and timing. To receive a pass, hand placement, grip, touch, and timing are all critical. Of all these areas, spin and speed are the most challenging to master when giving a pass, while grip and touch are the hardest when receiving. 

While these technical areas are important and critical to master, it is my belief that passing is more of a mental skill and habit than a physical one. Because passing is learned at an early stage, it is something that most players take for granted. The assumption is made that passing skills are sufficient and the work done in practice is enough to maintain passing skills. When executing passes, whether in practices or in games, very few players truly focus on the elements of the pass – they merely see their teammate and their muscle memory takes over (similar on the receiving end). The result is often missed passes and poor execution.

How many times in practices do coaches have to make comments or stop practice due to poor passing? It is often not because the players lack the fundamental skills – it is because they take those skills for granted and choose not to focus on the execution. When players shoot, they look for a shooting lane, find their target and attempt to put the best speed on the puck to get the desired result. When passing, I believe this processing piece is far less common. With increased focus comes increased execution.

Now, to answer Coach Rice’s question more directly regarding hard passes. Passing the puck hard is a habit. Habits boil down to the mental skill to execute a physical action. These habits are built through repetition and practice.

As you move up in levels within in the game, time and space becomes less and less readily available. The game becomes more of a cause and effect between two units of five players rather than a pure talent contest. Passing the puck hard (with lots of zip and speed) becomes more of a tactical element at the highest levels. The puck moves faster than your feet, so you can create separation and a change of direction in the defense with hard passes. Whether in the neutral zone on a hinge or a cross ice seam or in the offensive zone on a play to change the point of attack (north/south or east/west) hard passes force the defense to have to react quickly to a new threat. 

Technically speaking, hard passes require a firmer grip from both the passer and receiver. Mentally, they require anticipation and a high level of focus to execute, as a hard pass is more difficult to both give and receive. Once again, the execution of a hard pass is more mental than technical, as it is a conscious focus and effort from one team to move the puck quickly. Passing the puck with good pace is the sign of a focused and determined team that has a good hockey IQ. They understand the value of a hard pass and they are prepared and ready to give and receive passes with zip on the puck. How do you make your team execute passes like this? Attention to detail in practice. Demand hard and firm passes in practice – it will establish the habit and carry over in to games.

I would love to hear from you on this…what do you think? Feel free to comment or tweet at me (@chall4431) Here is Coach Rice’s tweet:

@Ricer18: Interested in coaches thoughts on passing the puck hard/receiving hard passes:

What % technique what % mindset? The best players all do it

Hockey Warm-Up Skates

Over a number of years playing and watching hockey games and practices, I have noticed an odd habit with hockey players. If given no direction, when they first step on the ice they will automatically skate in a counter-clockwise direction. Age, ability level or familiarity doesn’t seem to make any difference. I was at a camp this week and I made the players skate in a clockwise direction and I heard comments like “Why?” and “This is strange”. The players felt uncomfortable skating in the opposite direction than what they were used to.

I’m curious as to why. No one teaches them to skate this way direction. There is no rule in warmups or practices about skating one direction. So why is this a habit? Where/when does it start? Does it actually affect how players skate? Are players better at skating/crossing over got the left than to the right? Do coaches even notice that players skate the same way all the time?

I’d love to hear if anyone has any ideas about this as it is something that has baffled me for a while now.

The Power of Habit

One of my goals for this summer is to read a book per week. Last night, I finished The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (website here: http://charlesduhigg.com/). This is a fascinating book that has the ability to open your eyes about how we act and how we can change how we act.

Duhigg starts by explaining the science behind habits and why people do things instinctively. When was the last time you actually thought about the steps it takes for you to get your car out of the driveway in the morning? And I mean not just “put it in reverse, back up, stop, shift to drive, go”. I’m talking about all the little details that go into backing a car out of a driveway. The amount of information your brain is receiving and sending for that action is immense, yet most experienced drivers rarely actively think about how to back a car out of their driveway. This is a habit.

The book continues on to talk about the habit cycle, what it is, how it is formed, and how it can be changed. After discussing individuals, Duhigg moves on to talk about the habits of  corporations (including what he calls Keystone Habits) and societies (looking at the Civil Rights movement, and social judgement). I cannot say enough about this book and how it has changed my view of how people function and how to change my own life. Understanding the habit cycle can make a big difference in how you function. The habit cycle is ingrained into who we are as people. Having a grasp of this concept allows you the opportunity to change it.

One part that I thought to be particularly interesting was the idea of Keystone Habits, brought up in the Corporation section of the book. Did you know that people who make their beds on a daily basis are better with money? Did you know that the culture of an entire organization was changed by a CEO who had one goal – to be the safest company? Duhigg refers to these as Keystone Habits – or habits that reach at the heart of who you are and have the ability to change the culture of an organization. Keystone habits can alter how people function by developing a basic operating structure. Everything else will flow from there. Making your bed in the morning requires quick attention to a minor detail – just like filing your receipts and tracking your spending. By focusing on safety, Alcoa was able to open up lines of communication that made their company a safer and more collaborative workspace.

After reading this book, I can now see and understand the actions that are going on in my life and in the lives of those around me as a habit based upon the habit cycle. We all have a vision for what we would like our lives to be like – reading this book gives you the power to understand how to change your life to fit that vision. You should start reading this book yesterday.

If you have read it, or are reading it – let me know what you think in the comments. I’m curious to see and hear other thoughts.