The Secret Ingredient - With Ben Knopp

Look, if the recipe were simple, everyone would be in the NHL. It’s not simple, for a lot of different reasons, but one of the so-called “secret ingredients” in my opinion is something you can’t see, you can’t manufacture, and you certainly can’t fake.

It’s called emotion. 

Next time you hear a song, you watch a movie, or someone says something to you that makes you feel that burst of energy, or you get goose bumps all over your body, take a second and really feel it. Take a second and let it sink in. take a second and understand what that is. That is the most powerful energy drink or powerbar you’re ever going to have. That is what, when understood and used properly, could take you to another level within the game.

I look back at the cup of coffee I had playing professionally and I think about all of the players around me, before and after me that I looked up to. Consciously or sub-consciously you’re always evaluating yourself and comparing yourself to these guys. Trying to figure out what makes them good most nights. Actually let me rephrase that, what makes them a little bit better when everyone else is struggling. Ya its skill, ya its work ethic, ya its drive, but there is always something else. It’s called “Compete” and I’m sure you’ve heard coaches talk about this and try to drive this home on any team you’ve been on. It’s a sense of competition, and it’s the element that decides whether you win or lose on the ice. I truly believe that the guys that compete more often than the guys that don’t have a better chance of being successful, that isn’t my main point.  I’m not emphasizing the importance of competing-everyone knows that.  What I’m talking about is what MAKES you able to compete day in and day out.

It’s called emotion.

So lets take a step back, lets get to the root of where this emotion can come from. Earlier I was talking about music or a movie or a conversation or a thought that triggers this feeling inside. The key word here is triggers. It’s about finding what your triggers are and what makes these emotions tick inside you. And it’s about repeatedly and consciously thinking about those things or doing those things that make these emotions comes to the surface for you. It’s that energy boost and that next level of your mental and physical state, that will give you the confidence and energy you need to skate faster, battle harder, and compete more consistently than the next guy.

If everyone could play 60 minutes and 80 games a year with the same emotion you feel for that 3 minutes after you score a goal, wouldn’t that be amazing?  Think about the possibility of being able to access the top echelon of your ability game after game instead of just once in a while when the stars align? I have many examples of this within the game today and especially with guys that have had successful careers in the NHL. They repeatedly, consciously and routinely do things in preparation for the game that open up the emotions that make them feel the way they need to feel to compete better than the next guy. Coaches say they compete, but they just are better at creating, controlling, and utilizing their emotions. And specifically the emotions that make them feel at their peak, even when internally they physically don’t have it that night.

So whatever it is for you, spend some serious time trying to identify it.  A certain song, a certain movie, a certain conversation, or just a certain memory, that gets that helps manifest that emotion inside of you. Consciously think about it, and learn how to control it. It will be the ingredient you need to be more consistent and better than the rest.

Ben Knopp

Shelby Stewart