Sunday, 15 April 2012

April Newsletter - Time to Breathe

 Bob Wilkie

From Professional Player to #1 Mental Performance Coach for Hockey Players in Canada!


April Newsletter

Reflection: What just happened?

An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't.
Anatole France

One of the toughest times of the year for me was the end of the hockey season.  It was always either bitter or sweet. I cannot recall even at a young age, not experiencing one or the other of them, depending on how the season had gone. 

It was not until later in my pro career that I  realized that it was important for me to understand what I had accomplished over the season. There were plenty of years where I was able to accomplish a lot.  I was fortunate to experience Provincials, Regionals, Nationals, and Professional Championships.  By the time I was 23 I had been a part of a Memorial Cup winning team, U18 National Team, Drafted in the NHL 41st overall, won the Calder Cup, won the Turner Cup, and scored my first NHL goal. At the end of all of those years it was a time of reflection and understanding that the experiences I had just had were shaping me into the man I am today. It was perseverance, dedication, pain, joy, disappointment, frustration, anger, sadness, motivation and fear all showing up in one season!  Each year gave me more to recall, to understand what I had accomplished so I could keep my head high and the build the belief that I could stay strong when things were difficult and challenging.  I guess that where all the wrinkles came from, it often seemed more bitter than sweet.

 A valuable lesson that I learned prior to winning the last championship that I would experience as a player, was to journal.  Mike Eaves was a coach that I had a history with prior to him being my coach in the Pro's. While playing for the Calgary Flames I admired his style of play, he worked very hard, he was also very smart in the way he played (had to be) We had met on a couple of occasions and his insights to me at 15 were gospel. In the early 90's he was starting his coaching career in Hershey for the Bears (Flyers affiliate AHL). Interesting how our paths crossed in Chocolatetown USA and the information he shared with me, the compassion and patience he  gave me created a better perspective on what this game was really all about. He encouraged me to journal and I am so thankful he did. I love to write and it has now become part of my career path.  It allows me to remain clearer than when I kept it inside.  It  was also a reminder of where I had come from and where I was going and  the experience I had gained as a person through it all. The words were the thoughts in my MIND and when they were put on paper they were now a road map for me to use on my journey. A journey that allowed me to travel the World, to see some of the 7 Wonders, to meet wonderful people and experience all that the World has to offer.

Journaling is like a map that continues to show me my course and the reflection it causes allows me to make improvements, to find motivation and create self confidence. 

I highly recommend that you (as a family) all sit down, talk about your season month by month from the start to the finish and  reflect on what this year of experiences provided for you. Look beyond the obvious and look  for the foundational values that you DID LEARN. I guarantee that you will have learned at lest one extremely important life altering lesson.  I hope that you see it and make it a part of who you are. Take your time and give thought to both the bitter and the sweet, grab a nice journal, a good pen and write it all down. It will do more for all of you than you can possible imagine.

For more information on our blogs, free inspiring articles, and empowering programs go you today!


Bob Wilkie

I Got Mind, do you?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Trusting the Youth Hockey Process

The Youth Hockey World in Canada is a very important part of our culture.  We love our hockey in Canada and many many families participate in it in a very big way.

The foundation of the dynamic of youth hockey is based on volunteer community boards, volunteer coaches, and volunteer parents.  There are governing bodies who oversee the overall structure but there is no policing of the dynamics that happen at the volunteer level.  Shockingly there is no curriculum or step by step process for volunteer coaches to follow when choosing and deciding to take on the responsibility of a team.  The governing bodies provide very little training for these volunteers.  They are expected to know how to teach these young aspiring athletes when they are not teachers and we as parents expect them to know what to do and how to do it.  What a huge responsibility.

Parents have a huge part to play in the youth hockey world and not just in providing the equipment, money, time, and chauffeuring!  They are expected to support the coach and the players.  Often times the philosophies, skills and abilities of the coach to coach effectively can be challenging to align with.  Unless they have a clear and concise plan of action it can be frustrating to watch. 

Perhaps it is time to provide a curriculum, a step by step on ice technical plan as well as a mental development plan to help us all enjoy the experience more.  If this happens we could all relax and believe in the process to help our young aspiring athletes develop in the way the desire to.

What are your thoughts on this??

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Hockey Players - A Commodity

Deep experience is never peaceful.-Henry James

I am currently sitting and watching the NHL trade day and I find myself being taken to a time in my own career that is quite disturbing. TSN was interviewing Nick Schultz who was just traded to Edmonton and they were asking him "how did you find out"? There is a point in your career when it is not about fun with friends anymore. I was introduced to this when I was barely 17. I was playing for the Calgary Wranglers of the WHL, I was projected to be a high draft pick in the NHL draft that year (1987) and was excited as I had a new coach that communicated and cared about the players state of MIND. All things were looking great for me to have a year that would allow me to make my dream come true.

As I arrived at the rink and walked by the board that the coach had the evenings line up I realized that my name was not on the board. A couple of days prior my best friend and teammate had mentioned that I was talked about being traded. I called Wally Kozak (the coach) and asked if there was any truth. "Bob, there are some really good offers coming in for you, I cannot say yes or no, but the offers are very good". I was pissed, how could they consider trading me after I spent the previous year that was one of the worst and most challenging in my career to that point? 

I proceeded to enter Wally's office and he told me that I had been traded to Swift Current for four players. I was stunned, I was infuriated. That night we were playing the Broncos and the first question I asked was could I play that night. Wally said that part of the deal was that I could not play that night. I left the room without saying much to anyone. I called my parents from the pay phone (we did not have cell phones then) and informed them of the trade. They were as I was, very angry and shocked. I remember that my Mom was there within 30 minutes and stormed in John Chapman's office and went nuts on him. I was embarrassed and happy all at the same time. As the Broncos arrived my parents and I walked down to the opposite side of the building and met my fate for the next three years. I knew a couple of the players from the Olympic programs so at least I knew some of the guys. We talked with Lorne Frey and he seemed excited and then we talked with Graham James. My stomach turned when I saw him - he had the air of creepy to say the least. My Mom after we had met with the staff was very adamant that I was not leaving. My Dad and I sat and watched the game and tried to build something positive to hold onto. Our whole world was turned upside down.

We took a few days to process and talk about the situation that we were in. We did not feel very good, I was having to leave home, I was very young emotionally and was completely unprepared to leave everything I had in my life. My friends, girlfriend, family all to go and play. In my MIND I was confused and scared. I was going, there was no doubt in my MIND about that. I drove from the house with my Dad and I remember crying and thinking I would never return the same, the life I knew had ended.
The next time I was traded I was property of the Detroit Red Wings playing in Ft.Wayne of the IHL. I was 22 and fresh off a Calder Cup Championship, I had been shipped out of Adirondack, I had not panned out and the Wings moved me to make room for a new group of young players. I went into practice and all the guys were asking me what I was doing there. As usual, you think it is a joke, they handed me the newspaper and sure enough it said I had been traded to Philadelphia Flyers. I did not even know what to do or who to call. The coach was surprised that I had not been contacted.

The last trade I was playing in Hershey of the AHL and had asked Bobby Clarke that training camp for a trade because he had not even given me a exhibition game to showcase myself. They had resigned me to being a good minor league player. I was in the Maritimes and getting ready for my pre-game nap. The phone rang and it was Bob Murray from the Chicago Blackhawks telling me they had acquired me and asked how quickly I could be on a plane. I caught a plane and ended up in Detroit within hours. That one was tough as I was newly married and called my wife from the Montreal airport, I remember telling my wife "I was traded, I will be home in a week to pick you up, pack the house, I will call you later."
The game is tough. The game is challenging and you must understand that you are at the discretion of whoever is running the ship to be moved. I know the first time I was mad, the second time surprised, the third time I realized that it was a new opportunity. I now tell the players I work with to look at the positive that a team wants you. Go in and make a difference, don't carry the grudge because it will keep you from performing to the best of your ability.

You are a commodity, know who you are, they talk about how hard it is to find ROLE players. Define who you are and work on being the best you can be in the atmosphere you are in. If you are to be traded you want it to be because of the value you bring to your team.

Bob Wilkie