Calgary

Young hockey players learn mental game from ex-pro

As young hockey players in Calgary get ready for a new season, some of them are looking to a former NHLer for an extra edge.

Former NHL defenceman Bob Wilkie teaches techniques for controlling stress, emotion

Bob Wilkie, who used to play in the NHL, teaches young players how to master the mental aspects of hockey. (CBC)

As young hockey players in Calgary get ready for a new season, some of them are looking to a former NHLer for an extra edge.

Bob Wilkie, who played defence for the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers, is the co-founder of igotmind.com.

Junior A player Andrew McCann said he has benefited a lot from Wilkie's program. (CBC)

It’s a mental training program, mostly delivered in online videos, that gives young players the tools Wilkie says they need to master the mental aspects of hockey.

"When it comes down to the pressure of the game, it's always what they think," he said. 

"It's always how they feel, it's always how they prepare and if they believe in themselves. It's the most important component."

Players learn to relax, control emotions

More than a thousand local players have gone through the program so far, Wilkie said.

Participants learn how to better control their emotions and tune out rink politics — skills Wilkie says he could have used as a young player.

"A lot of the things that happen and they deal with at the NHL level happen when they're 13, 14, and 15 and there's nobody at those levels teaching them what they need to know so they can reach the NHL," he said.

Junior A player Andrew McCann said a big part of Wilkie’s message is learning to relax.

"Usually most guys play tight and they’re nervous in front of all the different types of people, whether it’s parents, coaches, scouts.… I think the biggest thing is just to go out there and have some fun and play the game that we all love," he said.