Is your team ready for the postseason? Here are 4 tips to help ensure success in the playoffs.
By Travis Armideo
Now that spring is here, it’s likely your team is about to enter the postseason. With the playoff push coming up, it’s time to step back and assess your team. What do you need to be prepared for success in the playoffs? Are there ways to help get your players in the best position possible to make a deep postseason run?
Here are four simple keys to preparing for success in the playoffs:
1. Assess Your Needs
If your team has needs and you’re still in a situation where you can pick up players—or even add an experienced voice to the coaching staff—the playoff push is the time to fill those needs.
While you may not have any glaring holes, you could be in need of an extra rebounder off the bench or a penalty-killing specialist. Maybe your rec hockey team needs veteran leadership, or you need a coach with a championship pedigree to bounce ideas off of and discuss strategy.
If you’re past the point of being able to acquire additional players and need to address your team’s weaknesses, start to single out players on your team that may be able to fill those voids. Devote some extra time to working with them and prepare them to play specific roles once the second season begins.
2. Fix Problems
Of course, while you want to fill holes with new acquisitions, you want to make sure you’re fixing your problems and not creating new ones.
If you need a secondary scorer or an offensive facilitator, make sure that player fits in with your team’s chemistry. You don’t want to sacrifice your team’s defense for a slight upgrade on offense.
It’s always best to try plugging smaller holes during the regular season. Don’t try to solve your team’s major flaw with a late-season quick fix.
3. Work Together
Watch most successful playoff teams closely and you’ll notice two characteristics: the team believes they are going to win—and they are going to win it together.
That’s the frame of mind that your team needs to adopt. Take the 2017 Chicago Cubs, for example: their players’-only locker room gathering during the Game 7 rain delay helped spark them to the franchise’s first championship in more than 100 years.
Believing is the first key, but it’s the tight camaraderie and ability of teammates to rely on one another that takes teams over the top. There’s a reason teammates run to embrace each other after the final win and don’t just run immediately to the trophy. Those teams never stopped believing in their ability to come together and overcome adversity, especially when their backs are against the wall.
Maybe schedule some extra team time together, away from the ice. You don’t need to force any cheesy team-building exercises; just have organic moments together.
4. Rest Up
The season is long. And then come the playoffs.
While some NBA teams were once under fire for resting their best players ahead of the playoffs, it’s important to have your top players reaching their peak performance when it’s time for the biggest stage.
If you’re still pushing for a spot in the postseason, you may not be able to afford to rest your players. But you might want to add in more time at the gym rather than the practice rink. Taking a few days off from physical practice, with some chalk talk or video time, is a great way for hockey players to prepare for success in the playoffs.
Whether you’re making that final playoff push or just looking to get ready for the playoffs to begin, make sure your team is well rested, well rounded, and working together. When you have all the pieces you need and you believe you’re able to win, you have the right ingredients for a deep postseason run.
Travis Armideo is Marketing Manager at Gladiator Custom Mouthguards.
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There is one more very specific element I might suggest for this article. To prepare for a championship you need to know your opponent, and their weakness. If you can match your strength to their weakness you will win.
There are four steps: capture data, stack the data, expect momentum, and practice safety.