• Jeff Butorac

SJU Hockey: Building The Body And The Mind


Doug Schueller is the Head Hockey Coach at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, MN. Throughout his 12 seasons as a Head Coach with the program he has never stopped trying to help his team grow and connect with each other. As a coach, part of his job is to help his players develop physically, as well as mentally and emotionally. Because of his dedication to the development of his athletes, he continues to try to find new ways to connect with them, as well as have them connect with each other on a deeper level. These are some of the ways that he has done this over the years.


Pregame Habits

Part of building mental toughness and the championship mindset is to understand what it takes as an athlete to prepare mentally for a game. A creative way that Coach Schueller used to teach his players this was having them write down everything they did in preparation before the game. This included what they had to eat, any activity or lack there of, any mental work to get ready, etc. After the game, he would have them write down how they felt they performed that night. The players would then be able to look at what they did before the game and see if it positively or negatively affected how they performed. This allowed them to build good pregame habits.

Building a Bond

Another way that he was able to demonstrate teamwork and help his players grow in their communication and trust was to bring in Navy SEALs to work with his guys. The players were put through a series of exercises to help emphasize the importance of trusting the person next to them and how to communicate with them in a constructive fashion. When people are tested or put through difficult situations together, it tends to build a bond and trust amongst one another. He found different ways for his athletes to construct this trust and grow as a unit.


Learning Personalities

Coach Schueller wanted to find a way to better connect with his players personally as well, so one of the things he has done is have them take a personality test. While understanding that this isn’t an exact science, by using these results, he has gained insight into how some of his players may think, act, or respond to certain events. This allows Coach Schueller to either make adjustments where he can, or to work with the player in a more constructive and effective manner. The results can allow the athletes to know and understand themselves better as well.

As you can see, Coach Schueller has gone and continues to go to great lengths to get to know his team better along with helping them learn to trust and communicate with each other. This mindset is great for a coach to have, continually looking to grow and foster the mindset of the athletes within their program. It’s a great way to help build and grow teams in any other arena as well!


I hope this gives you some ideas on how to build mental strength in yourself, along with your team!


Good Luck!


Jeff Butorac


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