Julien on Looch & How Inspiration Works

Analysis by BruinsUnite

According to Coach Julien, and this is obviously the truth, Milan Lucic is the kind of player who needs to be challenged. He went pointless for several games this season, and suddenly, while playing against spectacular Sharks, he puts in 2 goals.

The same thing keeps happening, and not just to Looch. So many of our best players seem to become hungry and battle the hardest in situations perceived as being more difficult. This is not surprising, from a physiological and evolutionary standpoint, of course. With the perception of heightened challenge comes a corresponding heightened sense of competition as the sympathetic nervous system kicks in. It’s quite simple to explain, actually, once we have the basics down. 

  • Our autonomic nervous system provides almost every organ in our bodies with a 2 kinds of nerve systems: sympathetic and parasympathetic.
  • These 2 systems usually act in direct opposition to each other. One (sympathetic) gives us the energy we need in order to fight (or quickly flee) in stressful situations, preparing the body for emergencies and other stressful events. In a word: Challenges. On the other hand…
  • Parasympathetic System: Reduces heart rate, tells the body it is ‘ok to relax’ (you’ll notice that in stressful situations, some typical automatic bodily needs don’t seem so pressing. E.g., having to visit the restroom. Once your body knows it can relax and take care of business without fearing any external interruptions like predators, etc., it will send you signals that you need to ‘go’. While in the opposite state (sympathetic), many such needs can be put off for a while, and we even feel less pain.)

Looch thrives on challenge and tough situations, and, quite arguably, there is a sense in which he gets bored when things get too easy. But it is absolutely essential that Coach can count on Looch when it counts most. He says so himself.

The same can be said of many of the other players, of course, since they’re all human beings. Our physiological and evolutionary makeup nicely explains why pep talks (inspirational speeches before games) actually work. Here is one example.

So in the picture to the right, as Lucic given Komisarek a face massage, it is unlikely that either of these players was in a state of homeostatis. Each one was quite ‘pumped’, so to speak, and so under the influence of their sympathetic systems.

After the sympathetic fight or flight kicks in, there is a required ‘down time’ that’s needed in order to regain one’s energy. In a 60(+)-minute hockey game, many of the guys remain in a state of heightened physical readiness for long periods of time. For this reason, there is lots of ‘down time’ required after the game if they are to be back in shape for the next challenge.

This explains nicely why teams whose players go drinking after the game don’t tend to be in the best of shape thereafter, and lose hockey games. And yes, those are the Habs in the above image, as we’ve all seen them many times before in Montreal, after games, drunk and out of control. Carey Price boasts 3 lit cigarettes dangling from his lips here.

Well, good luck, guys!


Posted on April 18, 2009, in Analysis by BruinsUnite, Athlete Anatomy, Boston Bruins News, Bruin Inspiration, Bruin Strategy, Bruin Video, Bruins Analysis, Humor & Fun Stuff. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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