Composure, as Webster’s defines it, is a calmness or repose especially of mind, bearing, or appearance. For high school athletes, it can mean the difference between winning or losing. For the leaders on and off the playing fields, it’s a key mental aspect of every sport. High school hockey is in full session with the opening games that took place last Wednesday night. When the going got tough for several of the Jackson players, that took on the new co-op Lapeer High Schools team, their composure when right out the door and into the penalty box right along with them.
The look of scorn and disapproval on the coaches faces, and the referees as they tugged the players apart will be played out all season long. It’s a constant lesson that every athlete needs to be reminded of day-in and day-out and a work in progress.
Patience under fire, grace under fire for that matter, and one’s ability to keep those raw emotions in check are all part of the mind game that every athlete battles on the five-inch playing field inside his or her head. It’s tight quarters inside that head and it’s a short fuse that can go off without warning. The result? Missed swings, tosses and throws—and missed opportunities.
The coaches call it inability to gel as a team and lack of communication with ones teammates. Sounds a little better than saying the team lost its composure, but no matter what way you spin it, it’s going to happen in every game at some point. Perhaps it’s something that should be challenged more often in practices right along with the shooting and hitting drills. Make some of those kids just as agitated as they might find themselves in games and use that as a test for everyone on the team. When the frustration boils over, and not to single the two teams out, it’s just the first hockey game I have attended this young season. It could have just as well been LakeVille vs.
Goodrich in the earlier game that night, or for that matter Linden/Lake
Fenton last Saturday as Lapeer routed it, 9-0. Instead, Linden simply put in its second string players to get them some playing time to let the frustrated starting line mull over what went wrong. It’s not to be taken as a negative, as the penalties assessed and game stoppages are punishment enough, or maybe reminder is a better word, for those who lost it in the heat of the moment. Sitting alone in the box in hockey, or having to sit on the bench until one regains his or her composure in basketball, serves to remind everyone playing and watching that there are consequences for all actions. Over-celebrating or rubbing someone’s nose in a missed opportunity is just as important. Taunting is probably the number-one cause of loss of composure. A snippy remark made in passing, an unnecessary bump or elbow to the body, or a nose-to-nose glare is just as much an instigation and has to be monitored. It’s just sports after all. But it’s also about learning patience, calmness and the ability to keep ones emotions in check. Play on kids, but play on fair and square and don’t be the one bad apple that spoils the whole basket. Contact sports are contact after all, and there will inevitably be what we sports writers and commentators like to call “extracurricular activity” taking place. Just don’t let it get out of hand and spoil the game.