Mental preparation of Slovakia U18 National Team

According to memorandum about cooperation between SHF, HDC, NSC during the 2016/2017 all these subjects cooperated on Slovakia U18 National Team project.

According to memorandum about cooperation between Slovak Hockey Federation, HDC Slovakia and National Sport Center, during the 2016/2017 all these subjects cooperated on Slovakia U18 National Team project.

Coaching staff (TS) under Norbert Javorcik's supervision was extended not only by a specialist in mental preparation (Slavomira Gazdikova, SportMind HDTS), but also by Professor Eugen Laczo as a professional consultant (conditioning, health, recovery and nutrition), condition coach Milan Kabat and Physiotherapist Andrei Foltyn. Together with the Norbert Javorcik, team’s head coach, a special plan for the work and development of players was developed in the framework of conditioning training, recovery, nutrition and mental preparation of players and the team. Mental training is a very important area, and coaching staff provided full support in the set up of specific goals for the team, and also individually for individual players. 
Mental preparation is part of sports psychology, which studies the behavior of athletes and explores how the top players behave in different situations, compared to the rest. As part of the mental training, the coach also engages in training specific skills and abilities that help athletes and teams achieve outstanding and stable results. Cooperation with the Slovak U18 national team was implemented on several levels and in different forms. We worked at a strategic level in the preparation of plans and goals, ensured the individual development of coaching staff members and players, and also implemented, for example, group development activities and the team building.

During the season we used the personal testing from SportMindHDTS, thanks to which we supplemented the individual development and approach to the athletes, and also we assessed their changes and personal growth. We created separate areas of mental development, which were necessary to pay special attention and train during the season with the team. In group and individual training we dealt, for example, with such topics as how correctly and why goals are generally set, how to improve concentration, what to do with stress, how to effectively strengthen self-confidence, the power of effective communication, etc. During the whole season we worked very closely with the coaching staff, where we tried to adapt the approach of its individual members, the environment in which we worked and the individual actions, through which we could experience the acquired skills in practice.

The main objective of the whole work was our result on U18 World Championship in Poprad and Spiska Nova Vsi. Before the championship itself, we also worked with the media, prepared media training for the players. We explained them how the media work in the sport, what to look for, how to work with social networks and generally, how to communicate effectively with the media . Our goal was to prepare a player who will be able to cope with the pressure of the environment, the difficult situations brought by hockey, who will know how to effectively experience the successes and failures, will understand what teamwork means and will be able to transfer all this to practice. We also engaged in setting realistic goals for players, building a sound individual and team self-confidence. One of our goals was the discipline of players, so that players understand the importance of a disciplined game, as well as behavior outside the stadium and a professional approach to training, nutrition, and personal life. And by the way: Our team was the most disciplined team in the whole World Championship.

During the World Championship, we worked intensively to maintain the physical and mental condition of the players, as well as to overcome the difficult situations that arise during such tournaments. The players did a great job and tried to improve constantly.