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hockey lessons


A couple of years ago, I had the unexpected opportunity to spend an entire Saturday learning life lessons from hockey. At the time, I served as a team physician for a local high school as well as a nearby university. When I arrived at the rink in preparation for the high school game, some peewee players were finishing their match. One of the smallest forwards raced to the crease then missed a slow moving pass that errantly bounced off of his skate and into the opponent’s net. This masterful display of skill was followed by a celebration that eclipsed the typical Stanley Cup Game 7 fanfare.

After a quick Zamboni resurfacing, the high school squad took to the ice with a noticeable change of pace. Their level of play was considerably more coordinated and skillful, in a way that made me proud to be a part of that program. My appreciation for talent grew at the college game later that afternoon. Watching games from the bench allows for an up-close-and-personal understanding of strength, speed and skill. Everything about the college game was faster and more coordinated. The passes were crisper, skaters were faster and I suspect many more of the checks “left a mark”.

By 7pm I was at the St Louis Arena for a Blues game with my wife and another couple who had 2nd row tickets. Seeing NHL hockey moments after a college contest provides a whole new appreciation for talent. The pro’s clearly & consistently demonstrated why they were playing at this level. I contemplated how some of the “stars” that I watched earlier in the day would perform against the pro athletes.

I have repeatedly reflected on a couple of lessons learned on “Hockey Saturday”, and more so how to apply those lessons to my personal and professional life. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Goals and team victories bring happiness.

Regardless of the level of play, everyone loves to succeed. Scoring a goal means that you’ve achieved your objective- with a reason to celebrate. In practice, we must have clearly defined goals, i.e. 80% subjective improvement and the ability to return to running within 6 visits.

We must also define what a winning season looks like. Moving toward a large goal is much more emotionally rewarding than running from failure. Do you have set written goals for 2016? If not, check out this earlier blog about goals.

Do not overlook the fact that happiness increases when you share the same experience with others- so joy is amplified when you succeed as a team. Our entire office must share common goals so that our “body of water” is moving in the same direction with the force of a powerful river, not a stagnant pond. Download this sample team Game Plan for inspiration.

2. It doesn’t matter how good (or bad) you think you are, you can always improve.
Many of the hockey amateur’s thought they could perform equally well at the next level. In fact, the peewee’s believed they were on top of the hockey world. In reality they were only considered “good” until they were compared to others.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever met a chiropractor that did not believe they possessed above average skills. Most chiropractors think that they are superior, simply because they have not been compared to better performing peers.

  • Like it or not, the emerging value-based healthcare model will classify each of us. Comparisons will be the norm and, like hockey, only the “pros” will be compensated. We must embrace outcome metrics.
  • Tryouts are happening right now. In 2017, Medicare will begin reimbursing providers at differing rates based upon their outcomes from 2015. Many other carriers have indicated that they will follow suit. To survive in the value-based model, we must provide the greatest value.
  • Hockey, like all professional sports, is inundated with performance metrics; games played, goals, assists, points, shots, plus/minus rating etc. Pro’s and coaches know their numbers and are continually trying to improve- we too cannot expect to improve unless we measure results.

Finally as the seasons switch from hockey to baseball, so too will this story. Mike Matheny, manager of the St Louis Cardinals, claims that 2 of the hardest working players on his team are Yadier Molina and Matt Holiday- both perennial all stars. He has made 4 similar observations about what differentiates highly paid all-stars from nearly identical, yet struggling, AAA players:

  1. They have set goals and measure their performance
  2. They practice and work slightly harder than their peers
  3. They seek out the best coaches and resources.
  4. They place team success above personal success

The pros know what they want to achieve, then take advantage of the best coaches and trainers. Super stars practice how they hope to play- like intense, committed winners. Investing into your clinical skills on a consistent basis can help you become a super star- providing a service that is progressively more desirable to patients and payors alike.

In the last 4 years, the ChiroUp clinical team has reviewed over 5000 books and journal articles, summarizing the most clinically pertinent points for 86 different conditions. We’ve boiled this data down into simple “Condition references” that may be accessed under the “Sharpen My Clinical Skills” tab. We challenge you to spend 10 minutes today to learn more about any condition that you diagnosed this week. ChiroUp is proud to be a trusted resource on your journey to become the best player in the league!

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