Championship Mindset: Do you have a Playoff-Calibre Team?

Championship Mindset: Do you have a Playoff-Calibre Team?


By Ryan Weaver
Monster Contributing Writer
Marketing Advisor.

Preparation for the Playoffs Starts in the Off-Season

Darryl Belfry, is a Player Development Analyst and Consultant working with top NHL stars.  Darryl is not just a big proponent of off-season training and preparation, he receives raves reviews from the top young players like Patrick Kane, Mikael Backlund and Max Pacioretty for helping to bring their games to a new level.  Just as thoughtful and objective performance reviews help supervisors guide employees toward self-improvement, so do player development coaches.  As Darryl explains, “A professional hockey player’s preparation for the playoffs starts in the off-season as they re-evaluate their game from the previous season and begin to assess how they can improve both their capacity to contribute as well as becoming more effective in the areas they already excel in.” 

Mental Toughness Prepares Performers for Their Biggest Moments
I spoke with Pierre Groulx, a renowned professional hockey coach that specializes in training goaltenders.  Pierre has trained many of the world’s best goaltenders, including Carey Price during his time working with the Montreal Canadiens (Go Habs!).   When it comes to getting ready for the play-offs Pierre agrees that mental preparation is very important.  “The difference is mistakes in playoffs are magnified so therefore the pressure is much higher,” states Pierre.   “If you have good preparation during regular season for every game you should just roll that preparation into playoff games.”  The problem seems to arise when players don’t treat every game in the regular season as if they were playoff games as Pierre explains, “Some guys put too much pressure on themselves (in the playoffs), while others will swing in the complete opposite direction and won’t put enough pressure on themselves.” 
Effective Communication is Key to Building World Class Teams
In her HBR article titled “The Hard Science of Team Work” Alex Pentland describes her findings from a study carried out at MIT’s Human Dynamic Laboratory. Alex and her team used sociometric badges to capture how people communicate in real time. She found that great teams communicate frequently (typically a dozen or so exchanges per hour), talk and listen in equal measure, engage in frequent informal communication, and explore ideas and information found outside the group.  In addition to communication, Pierre also notes that most professional teams that he has worked with have found success in harnessing the power of “visualization exercises.”  In the corporate world leaders use similar visualization in order to help solve problems with the end in mind.   “Especially in the play-offs,” Pierre explains “it’s important not just to use video to show players what they are doing wrong, but also what they are doing right in hopes that seeing and visualizing success will help them to emulate in the future.”
A Great Coach Lifts the Team’s Spirits and Productivity Levels
Study after study show that Canadians and Americans are apparently becoming less happy at work and that’s a problem because engaged work forces generate more profit and revenue growth, deliver higher levels of customer satisfaction, and overall work more productively and are more likely to put forth greater effort to accomplish tasks and pursue results.   Without naming names, Pierre tells me that from his own experience, “Coaches that are calm behind the bench and behind closed doors are the ones that obtain respect from their players and get the most of them.”  With that said I will probably think twice if I ever see John Tortorella’s resume come across my desk. 
Guide Individuals to Performance Improvement by Rewarding their Efforts
Further to the point mentioned above, no one likes having small errors continually pointed out to them. As Senior Executive John Rey puts it, “Be positive, and attack the behavior rather than the individual.” You want to lead your team forward by improving performance, not “destroy their motivation and morale with constant nit-picking.”  Reward and praise are important to keeping your team performing optimally. In fact, 2 recent independent studies have shown evidence of adverse health effects resulting from high-effort/low-reward conditions. The studies looked at the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension and atherogenic lipids).

Go for the Gold: Find and uphold your Organization’s “Gold Standard”
Just ask Bob Bowman, a competitive swimming coach that is best known for coaching Michael Phelps to a record 22 Olympic medals. With regards to organizational performance Bowman states in an interview with Fast Company, “Each business has a gold standard. It’s up to the leadership to decide what that standard is and how the organization gets there. Once the gold standard is set, everyone on the team needs to buy into it, he says. “We try to be very process-oriented, performing up to a certain standard every day,” Bowman says. “(You can only) control what you can control,” he says.
Looking to Add Members to Your High Performance Team this Spring/Summer?
Follow Mentor Works to learn more about Government grants for hiring and training available in 2014.   And learn more about tools offered by that can help you find the right career advice and/or the best candidates for your team.