Hey guys, have you ever heard an NHLer or really good Pro say that the game is slowed down for them? It’s like everything is in a state of slow motion. Every movement, every pattern, every skill, every instinct, it’s like they can predict a better percentage of the game before it happens. And it’s true. When you think about it, it’s actually kind of crazy, almost surreal and definitely really cool. But… How do you find it? Why is it so hard and how do you keep it?
It’s in your mind. I am sure that clarifies everything. It’s so cliché but it’s 100% true. The difference between the game’s best players is their ability to map. What’s mapping? Remember using those old roadmaps to navigate to a new destination? I sure do. But what was really cool about those maps, is that after a while they got used less and less. Why? Well, it’s mapping. A concept that dates to before 6100 BC. We’ve mapped for centuries; those maps have become relics of history.
Long term memory cognition is a special thing. As a matter of fact, we’ve gotten so detailed in detecting the brain’s ability to “light” up specific areas that we are uncovering a ton of great research on what areas of the brain control specific processes. In its simplest form, we don’t need the map because we remember the route. Thanks for the obvious you must be saying, but the problem is when it comes to motor control and skill acquisition it all means nothing without context. Have you ever seen a player who is highly skilled in practice but throw them into a game and he/she can’t play? We have, unfortunately a lot. It’s why we created our Elite Development Program and why our philosophy structure is Movement, Skill, Map and Transfer. If you want to get rid of the old map, you need to remember the route, mapping is the motor control link to game performance.
So why does the game become slow? It actually doesn’t. Players are still flying up the ice +30KM/Hour, dashing in and out of holes and consistently hitting pucks in the high 80’s. The game is so fast, faster than it’s ever been. Good players just see it faster which creates the illusion of the game slowing down and that comes down to an innate focus to map, or put another way, to add context to the acquisition of the skill. They can throw away the road map because it’s now ingrained in long term memory!
Why is it so hard to find? It’s just complexity. Think about it, let’s say you’re working on an “out”, you’ve got the basic movement and skill patterns. What type of complexity can you add? Pressure? Sure, we can do that, but it’s actually not dealing with the pressure that’s most important. Dealing with the pressure will take you to a high game level but the best guys know it’s coming. Meaning they’ve already processed it which allows them to engage in an attack or non-reactive framework and that’s really hard to train. It takes a ton of deliberate practice. Most players just don’t have the discipline and focus to train their brain with context.
So, next time you’re trying to improve your game, remember not to just work on the skills. A good plan will always entrench context. Embrace the content. Focus on it and be deliberate about training it. In our experience, it’s those players who focus on the nuances of context that map that best, making the fastest game in the world move really slow.