The deeper into the season you get, the more competitive some players become and playoffs, tournaments and end of season games can bring out the best and worst in people. The team environment, while awesome for getting everyone pumped and energized, can also create a contagious, negative wave when strong personalities rear and buck. Here are some quick tips on how to keep your cool when a teammate is blowing off steam.

Don’t react

When someone is riding high on emotions and competitiveness it is easy to get sucked in and join the fray. But acting emotionally and letting yourself get riled up about something is not going to increase your performance or your enjoyment of the situation. If you do get sucked in you’ll likely feed off each other and things can escalate incredibly quickly. No one wins a hockey game, an argument or has fun when they are acting impulsively, emotionally and without logic. When you see someone getting puffed up and ready to explode, acknowledge it and remind yourself, you are not that person. Take a deep breath and keep your head in the game.

Focus on What’s In Front of You

If you forget about what has happened so far and only focus on what needs to get done next you will stay calm and in control. Don’t worry about the why, just focus on the how. The phrase to keep in your head after those deep breaths is “Okay, what next?” Then focus on executing.

Recognize Your Triggers

If you know that losing the puck when you are on a power play, or Bob throwing a water bottle, or referees missing cheap shots, or slow line changes push your buttons, label them and identify your triggers as your weaknesses. Nobody wants to be ruled by their weaknesses so if you label your triggers as your weaknesses you’ll be more likely to check your behaviour in the future. Once you label your triggers you can focus on fighting your weaknesses instead of fighting your teammates, refs or opponents.

Remember, It’s Supposed To Be Fun

Happiness is all about expectation management. If you go out on the ice to win and you don’t win, you won’t be happy about it. If you go out on the ice to do your best and you do your best, you’ll be happy whether you win or lose. If you hit the ice to play a game you love and hang out with your friends, again, your happiness level is going to be in a good place. So even though this is the last point in our list, it’s the first thing you should do, set and manage your expectations BEFORE the game so your head is in the right place during and after the game. Try reminding yourself as you lace up “I’m here to play hockey” instead of “I’m here to win” and see how your attitude changes for the entire experience.