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Dr. Saul Miller

It Was A Very Good Season

It was a very good season. Along with the individual players I consulted with, the three teams I worked with in Europe all performed extremely well. Two made it very, very close to a championship.

Switzerland: It was my third season with SC Bern in the Swiss National League and I was hoping for another championship. It very nearly happened. Despite an upsetting mid season coaching change, SC Bern stayed on a positive track, swept through the first two rounds of the playoffs and made it to game 7 of the final series, losing 2-1 in the final seconds of the game on a very questionable goal.

Germany: In my first year with Adler Mannheim in the DEL (the German Elite League), Mannheim also had a strong season and swept through the first two rounds of the playoffs making it to the final game of the championship series.

Disappointment: While both Bern and Mannheim had very successful seasons,  I’m still very disappointed they didn’t win it all. Both teams had a lead in the final series. Both lost overtime games at home that would have given them the championship.

My expertise is helping individuals and teams win, not in consoling loses. I believe and preach that whatever happens either you “use it” or “it uses you.” How do you “use” a disappointing loss? If you simply accept losing, mediocrity is sure to follow. In the end what I've come up with as far as “using it” is: a. respect the game, b. persevere - understand that in sport and life it’s never over until it’s over, and c. recommit to exploring and implementing those things that can be done to perform and contribute even more effectively in the future.

Expectation was less with two other teams I consulted with. Both did well. Italy: It was my first year working with SG Cortina in the Lega Italiana Hockey Ghiaccio. Cortina a team which had been last in the league the previous season, experienced a dramatic turnaround finishing top 4 in the standings, then dominating in the first round of the playoffs, before losing in the semi-finals to Bolzano, the eventual league champion.

WHL: It was my 8th season with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Western Hockey League and it was expected to be something of a rebuilding year. However, the Tigers, a perennial winning team, comfortably made it into the playoffs, sweeping the first round, before being knocked out in the eastern semi finals.

One of the keys to the success of all these teams (and something I’ve blogged about before) is quality leadership which creates a positive culture and nurtures a willingness in everyone involved to do what it takes to win. Part of that positive culture is supporting the inclusion of specialized coaching such as sport psychology. What I do as a sport psychologist makes a real difference. It strengthens a positive mindset, improves focus, emotional control, mental preparation and a winning team culture. And I simply couldn’t do what I do with the players (and coaching staff) without the full support of coaching and management.

 Dr. Saul Miller is the author of Performing Under PressureHockey Toughand Why Teams Win.  


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