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Ice hockey coaching for girls under 18 – new boost for mental training from Qridi

February 8, 2022

Kimmo Koskenkorva had a chat with head coach Mira Kuisma and mental trainer Marjo Mäyrä of the under 18-year-old girls’ national team about their use of Qridi and coaching in general.

Born in Kuopio, Kuisma used to be a goalie for her local team, Kalevan Pallo, and later played for Oulun Kärpät from 2002 to 2011. She was also part of Finland’s national team in 2009 and 2010, and brought home bronze medals from the world championships and the Olympics.

After her active career as a player, Mira Kuisma studied in Rovaniemi, among other things, and gained qualifications as a sports instructor. From there, she went on to work with Kärpät for nine years, first as an assistant coach and later as the head coach. In 2019, Kuisma transferred to coach for Kuortane while continuing to train under 18-year-old girls, which she had been doing since 2018.

Ice hockey coaching has become a career for Mira Kuisma, all the way to the national team level. Image: Pasi Mennander.

Marjo Mäyrä studied as a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist, in addition to which she has qualifications in solution-focused and cognitive psychotherapy. She played in the women’s team of Kärpät from 1994 to 2003, and has since served as the team’s mental trainer for over five years. In addition to teams, she coaches private clients, such as ice hockey players, horse riders and swimmers. So far, she has been a mental trainer for the under 18-year-old girls for two years.

Kuisma uses Qridi for a variety of exercises. The platform can be used to contact the players between training sessions and provide feedback about their match performances. Qridi includes various types of self-assessments, and players can use the platform to set personal goals. Some have even connected their Polar sports watches to Qridi, allowing it to accumulate data in real time.

Mäyrä has used Qridi to carry out initial surveys, as well as visualisation and self-confidence exercises. Similarly to Kuisma, she has found Qridi to be a good tool for mental training; exercises help players orientate for future events, and the same information can be collected on all the players. Additionally, questionnaires do not get lost like they do on other platforms, such as WhatsApp, questions can be posed consistently, which might not be the case were the players to be called by phone, and the answers are easy to review and convert into statistics. Furthermore, surveys can have predetermined start and end dates. The entire training team also knows what is being practised.

Initially, the Qridi Sport platform was mainly used for testing various things, but now users can also collect answers and use the application at meetings. Mäyrä and Kuisma feel it is important that athletes read and understand the instructions regarding surveys and exercises, and most users do think that Qridi is clear and easy to use. It allows users to monitor their progress towards a specific goal, and Kuisma says that the more you use Qridi the easier it becomes. Furthermore, players also seem to be more aware of what the mental training aims to achieve and understand that successful mental training requires repetitions too.

Mäyrä points out that doing sports may prevent mental health problems, but also expose a person to them. With Qridi, it is easier to see how players are doing and whether they might have something on their mind that they would like to talk about. Even if everything is fine, surveys and exercises help players feel that someone cares how they are doing as athletes, and the answers or any outliers in the statistics will lower the threshold to call an athlete to discuss topics that may be difficult.

Marjo Mäyrä has extensive experience and expertise in mental training.

Kuisma and the players have begun to see self-assessments in a new light. For example, they have used Qridi to submit background surveys for training camps, which has helped the players prepare and focus for the upcoming activities. The questionnaires have allowed the players to think about their personal goals during a specific camp, and these goals are discussed with the players before a camp begins.

Since implementing Qridi, Kuisma has started to see the game from a new perspective. Afterall, she now has several years’ worth of information and experiences gained from players.

Being a coach of a national team allows Mira Kuisma to travel around the world. Image: Pasi Mennander.