Rick Rypien may have failed to balance his emotional intensity with his athletic performance, said a longtime sports psychologist.
“There are ways of regulating emotional intensity,” said Saul Miller, who’s worked with various NHL, NFL and NBA teams.
“I work a lot with conscious breathing and tension release techniques so that players have more skills when they feel they’re getting too pumped up.”
During Tuesday’s NHL game between Vancouver and Minnesota, Rypien culminated a series of aggressive actions by grabbing and shaking a Wild fan.
Hockey’s an aggressive game, says Miller. It’s important for players to focus and mentally prepare for possible instigators.
“I remember Donald Brashear … saying before games he’d anticipate players … who might provoke him, so that he wouldn’t be surprised … (and would) act more intelligently.”
The key to maintaining one’s calm while playing aggressively is to balance emotional intensity with performance. It’s when either side is pushed too far that aggression may override logic, Miller said.