It’s common in sport that things don’t go the way we want them to or the way we’ve prepared for them. I decided to do a workshop with the team where we don’t just talk about what we want and how we are going to operate but a workshop focused on what we are
going to do when things start to go wrong. We can also call it “damage control”. The players named different situations that happen to them in the game and they don’t like them. They were for example: goal to the dressing room, I made a mistake, I’m stressed, I can’t control my emotions or we are losing. Together we defined the “right” solution to that situation for that particular team. The players found out from each other who all had the same problem and at the same time understood that they are not alone in this. Showing weakness can make us stronger in life because if someone knows about it they can help us in that moment.
During the World Championships in Liberec, the national hockey team made it to the semi-finals where they were beaten by their opponents in the group. The players showed high mental resilience and combativeness when they did not give up. They were 3:1 down in the semi-final and managed to equalize at 3:3. Finally, they were down 5:3 again and with exactly 7 seconds left in the match, Samuel Sakal managed to equalize at 5:5 to send the match into overtime. In the overtime nobody managed to score and the game continued with shootout. Slovakia won the shootout 3:0 without any doubts and in a game where they were losing from the beginning they won the final of the U20 World Championship with their persistent work and fighting spirit.
They failed to beat Canada in the final. Canada pushed us in everything and we couldn’t find it in ourselves to change it. It’s often said that it’s nicer to win third place because you win the last game. And at the same time, coming second at the World Championships (even though the last game was a loss) is a huge achievement for our Slovak U20 national under-20 ball hockey team. And this was our way to become the second best in the world championships.
After two workshops with the players and two workshops with the Coaching staff, we managed to show how the team looks like. They were united, they didn’t give up and they showed their mental resilience despite the adversity of the game. Not once did they put their heads down, not once did they doubt themselves, not once did they point out to their teammates what they did wrong but always tried to find a common path. They understood that the team needs to move as one, on and off the field.