Sport Hockey White line fever? No, you’re just out of control

White line fever? No, you’re just out of control

Tweet Share Reddit Pin Email Comment

I’ve never been a big believer in white line fever.

India players surround the official. Photo: Getty
India players surround the official. Photo: Getty

It always seemed like such a cop out and some sort of excuse for people to take out their own personal issues under the protection of a team environment.

You know who I’m talking about: that player in your team who spends as much time behind the net as they do in front of it.

Seen more cheese [yellow cards] than a Kraft factory, as they say.

Sledge city: the things said to hockey umpires
Australian hockey’s ‘look at moi’ moment
Gut instinct: being hockey-fit is a misnomer

The actual term has a few definitions but in the sporting context it has evolved to represent a state of mind where people go beyond their usual limitations resulting in a more aggressive physical performance.

These days, that usually means someone who takes it too far, resulting in a transgression of the rules.

But the big question is: does white line fever actually exist?

Darren Everett, the consulting sports psychologist for the Hockeyroos, pulled no punches when I asked him if some people were just like that.

The expert view

“I think white line fever is a myth,” Everett told The New Daily.

“Some people are described as being very different people off the field versus on the field, however, this difference is likely to be that on the field they have learned to behave in a certain way and they believe that it has worked for them.”

So basically, if someone has had success with increased physical aggression on the field, then they continue that behaviour, dispelling the assertion that some people are ingrained with some sort of ‘aggro’ gene.

Everett said aggressive behaviour is more prevalent in local sport.

“At the lower levels or the local levels, people don’t know or haven’t thought about what is required so they often have a mentality that ‘the harder I go, the better I will play’,” Everett says.

“This is often wrong as they have worked themselves up too much and there is too much adrenaline in their system. As a result they are not playing or thinking at their optimum level.”

Fights in professional hockey aren't as common. Photo: Getty
Fights in professional hockey aren’t as common. Photo: Getty

Why top-level athletes aren’t as susceptible

My pet peeve is players who bring their own issues to the ground and use a match as their personal outlet for aggression.

Everett says this is not an issue at the top levels as athletes are ‘better able to separate their day-to-day life from their performance’.

“At the lower levels, I think that some people can carry the frustrations they may have had with a partner or at work into their sport,” he says.

“They are essentially trying to release the frustration from the day, by going over the top in their performance. They then use white line fever as an excuse for something that really is just poor on-field behaviour, poor discipline or poor preparation.”

So there you have it, straight from the mouth of a professional.

You don’t suffer from white line fever, you’ve learnt to play like that.

And if you’re consistently taking things too far when you cross that line, maybe it’s time to look at what’s happening in your life off the field.

Darren’s five ways to curb white line fever

Know your sport
Know exactly what the ideal behaviour and mindset is to excel at your sport, then commit to learning and implementing it at training and matches.

Prepare a routine

To give yourself the best opportunity to perform at the optimum level you need a process to leave your day-to-day life behind and switch into performance mode. A pre-performance routine will help your brain and body say ‘ok, here we go, it’s time to perform’.

Take a deep breath: Rugby League's Jamie Soward has the right idea. Photo: Getty
Take a deep breath: Rugby League’s Jamie Soward has the right idea. Photo: Getty

It doesn’t sound exciting but learning to breathe slowly and deeply (ideally six breaths per minute) is a great strategy to stop you going over the edge or it can bring you back once you have gone over. At any break in the game, get your breathing under control.

Constantly review how you behaved in your performance. If you find there were times your behaviour wasn’t where it needed to be, identify what caused it and have a plan to better deal with it next time.

Seek help
Speak to a psychologist about it. Dealing with a sports psychologist is not normally as daunting as you think. Sport psychology is all about educating you on how to perform at your best.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Cup

One thing most hockey players can agree with is that you don’t kick around club competitions for the money.

So it’s with some great excitement I learnt about the Aussie Cup recently.

The tournament aims to provide an elite national club hockey competition and social competitions for all levels and offers the chance to win a share of $15,000 in prize money.

The inaugural three-day Aussie Cup will be held in Hobart from October 21. More information here:

@Timdoutre tweets here.

View Comments