Ice Knights Captain Conlan Keenan ’20 on how to get your mind in the game.
By Brett Ford
Conlan Keenan ’20, a three-year captain of the Geneseo men’s ice hockey team, has played in over 100 games in his college career, leading the Knights to back-to-back State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2019.
A leader on and off the ice, Keenan was named the 2019 Herb Hammond SUNYAC Player of the Year and earned his second-straight All-America honor last season. A communication major with a minor in Arabic, Keenan has stuck to a very specific pre-game regimen that allows him to mentally and physically prepare for every game the same way.
“Mentality and preparation are two huge parts of hockey and of life,” says Keenan. “Sticking to a plan like this prepares you the same way every time and keeps you engaged for succeeding on or off the ice.”
KEENAN’S TIPS TO PREPARE MENTALLY AND STAY FOCUSED DURING AN ATHLETIC CHALLENGE:
- Develop a routine and stick to it
“Starting the night before a game, I try to stick to my pre-game routine. I go to my favorite restaurant and order the same meal — every time. I talk with teammates about what we’re thinking about going into the game and what we know about our opponents. This consistency helps me to stay engaged and focused as I prepare my body and mind for the physical and mental challenges I’m about to face. Having the same repeatable pre-game routine helps me feel more confident.”
- Watch and visualize your success
“I take time to watch films of previous games and watch myself execute techniques — and make mistakes — to learn from and avoid repeating them. I also look for tendencies from an individual and team perspective, seeking ways to take advantage of them. Watching films helps me visualize myself succeeding and gives me confidence.”
- Watch the best do it
“The day before a game, I like to watch hockey highlights from different professional players to learn new creative techniques that I can try to emulate. I always want to learn from the best.”
- Get the blood flowing
“I arrive early to warm up, break a sweat and stretch. Being on the ice is also great for visualization. I can physically put myself in game-like situations and give myself options on what I could do with the puck. It helps develop muscle memory, so I think less and do more on the ice. Stretching afterward helps me feel good and puts me in a good place before the contest.”
- Arrive Early
“I arrive at the rink at least three hours prior to my games. It allows me plenty of time to make sure all my equipment is ready to go, I’m well hydrated and I have time to stay loose by playing soccer or some other warm-up activity with my teammates. I’m not rushed and I have time to talk to and motivate teammates.”
“Before the game starts, we all dial-in with our coaching staff. We talk about the strengths and weaknesses of our opponent as we review the scouting report and discuss what we need to do to succeed. By that time, we’re all physically and mentally prepared to perform at the highest level.”