December 19, 2013 (ISN) – Athletes who experience high levels of stress show decreased performance in hockey andreport more injuries than those experiencing less stress.

Take control of stress this hockey season, awareness is the first step!


  • Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol, which effects crucial cognitive functions such as memory, attention and decision making. All those busy stores and long line ups before the game may have caused your cortisol levels to spike, affecting your ability to make fast decisions in the game.
  • A disruption in peripheral attention distracts your mind from what you should be paying attention to. Maybe you noticed that puck flying at your face a little too late?
  • Stress causes an increase in muscle tension, which interferes with normal coordination and motor function. Maybe you’re tripping over your own two feet?

How can we help it?

  • Although stress can often initiate a decreased performance in sport, sometimes a little stress can positively impact performance. For an individual who lacks motivation, a little stress might give him the adrenaline he needs to really get engaged in the game. From a sport performance perspective, being totally stress free can mimic boredom and will likely also result in a decreased performance.  Finding the perfect balance is key!
  • Are you typically a more anxious or calm kind of person? Being familiar with yourself and what makes you stressed is a good way to begin controlling stress so that it works for you, not against you!
  • Negative thought stopping: take a few seconds before you step into the rink to relax, and let go of anything on your mind. Tell yourself that you deserve this time to yourself.  Try to stop any negative thoughts that enter your mind by replacing them with a positive idea or thought. For example when a negative thought approaches, tell yourself “Stop!” and think of a more positive idea like, “I’m lucky to be physically able to play!” or “I will score the next goal!”

We can’t control the madness of the malls or the holiday traffic, but we can take control of how much we let it affect our lives.  Stop negative thoughts as they enter your head, and do your best to keep a positive attitude. It’s known that cardiovascular exercise releases endorphins in our system, which is a natural way to relieve stress. So if you’re thinking of skipping out on your hockey game because you’re stressed, remember how stress-free you feel stepping off the ice!  

Kelsey Ellis has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS where she studied Clinical Function & Dysfunction of the Lower Back, Exercise Physiology, Fitness Assessment and Program Design, along with Care and Prevention of Injuries. Kelsey has a passion for the human body and exercise and during her time at Dalhousie, she realized this could be put to use academically. While in Halifax, Kelsey played Rugby and worked with the Maritime Heart Center and their Heart Healthy Kids program which promotes physical activity and health at a local elementary school through weekly physical activity and monthly education sessions

Click’s%20Korner to contact Kelsey with any questions or comments.