As we approach the off season and think about ways to improve ourselves and our play, I thought people might like to see a unique approach some of my students and I took to working on our mental toughness last summer.

Being an avid surfer, I was aware of a training platform – XPT (Extreme Performance Training) –  that Laird Hamilton, the father of big wave surfing, was using to train people to become mentally stronger.

Yeah that’s me (on the left of course) in Indonesia and Laird Hamilton conquering a wave called Jaws, who obviously is on a completely different level!

Putting oneself through Navy Seal training would be a way to test oneself and discover tools to cope with high stress. However, afterwards your body would be completely destroyed if you managed to make it through at all. XPT uses breath holds, pool workouts, extreme heat and freezing cold to push people to a place of tremendous discomfort and stress without endangering their life or physical health.

I contacted XPT and was able to get it’s lead instructor, PJ Nestler, to fly to Toronto to administer a two-day course. PJ taught us how to use breathing, self-talk and compartmentalizing to calm ourselves down in the face of tough situations. In repeatedly putting us through stressors we improved our resiliency.

Training physical fitness in a gym or technical skills at a goalie school is readily available. Improving mental toughness is much more difficult to work on. XPT and coach Nestler accorded us this opportunity. It was an unforgettable experience and one all participants were extremely grateful for. I hope you enjoy this video documenting the experience. (Note: the attendants were late opening up the facility one morning which is why you see us laying on the ground outside – always have to adapt!)

Here it is:

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