Aaron Volpatti Unveils His Journey Beyond the Ice, Episode #181

Aaron Volpatti is an Author, Cognitive Performance and Injury Coach, Speaker, retired NHL player, and burn survivor. He is a pioneer in Cinematic Visualization and performance mindset.

After a horrific campfire accident in 2005, Aaron was airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital. He suffered second and third-degree burns to 40% of his body and was told his hockey career was over. He faced insurmountable odds.

After several surgeries and a gruesome recovery, he returned to the ice four months after his injury and signed with the Vancouver Canucks five years later. In his 5th season with the Washington Capitals, Aaron was hit from behind and underwent a spinal fusion surgery that forced him to retire.

His successes wouldn’t have been possible without the powerful visualization practice he developed. He wrote his own story and visualized it every day. This practice has taken him to the highest level in professional sports—and saved his life.

Listen in for some great takeaways about facing adversity and how important your mindset is to your success.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…

  • Summoning the strength to pursue his dreams after a horrific injury [4:55]
  • To build off of this story, I have heard you call yourself “reckless”. What lesson would you like others to learn from this?
  • Learning about cinematic mind-mapping visualization [15:02]
  • Get your copy of “Financial Planning Made Personal” [19:49]
  • What compelled Aaron to major in human biology? [20:30]
  • Aaron’s advice for navigating life after hockey [22:44]
  • Why Aaron wrote, “Fighter: Defying The NHL Odds” [25:20]
  • Aaron’s advice for young hockey players and their parents [27:47]
  • How can we continue to help the hockey culture evolve? [31:50]
  • What Aaron did today that put him in the right mindset for success [34:16]

Summoning the strength to pursue his dreams after a horrific injury

Aaron was self-admittedly a reckless teenager. Whenever they’d throw team parties, he’d mess around with gas and fire. At one of their parties, he spilled two liters of gas on himself trying to make a Molotov cocktail. It blew up and he started on fire.

He woke up in a hospital in Vancouver. The first couple of days were foggy. They didn’t know what the prognosis would be. But on the third day, after a painful procedure, his doctor told them that he would live—but that he had a long road ahead. He was told he’d never play hockey again.

The first few weeks were spent balancing emotions and managing pain. Two weeks later, his Junior coach called him. He told him that Brown University was looking for a player who would “Put the fear of God in the defenseman of the Ivy League.”

They told him he couldn’t play hockey and he kept asking, “Why?” There was a laundry list of reasons. He made a promise to himself that he wouldn’t accept that he couldn’t play. He wasn’t going to give up.

Cinematic mind-mapping visualization

Cinematic mind-mapping visualization is thinking about your life as if it’s a movie. You’re the director and you get a say in what happens. Every thought you have is projected on a big screen. You’re giving yourself the remote to change the channel on what’s being projected. The beauty is that there are no limitations.

When Aaron was in the burn unit, he didn’t realize that he was practicing visualization. But he started visualizing everything he wanted. He reframed the pain. He visualized healing at a cellular level. He visualized being in the game with his teammates. He was obsessed over signing a commitment letter to Brown.

Your brain doesn’t know the difference between physically experiencing something and mentally rehearsing it. If you can live in that reality in visualization and sit in the emotion with the desired ending, your brain is going to think that’s happened. It’s powerful.

It drove Aaron’s choices and daily habits. Before every choice he made, he asked, “Does this align with my vision or not?”

Kick open doors: Aaron’s advice for navigating life after hockey

Aaron’s advice? You have to kick open doors. Aaron was struggling with a neck injury, divorce, a sick parent, and loss of his identity when he was forced into retirement. He missed having a sense of purpose.

He started kicking open doors until he found the right fit. He worked in wealth management for two years. It wasn’t his door. Eventually, he landed where he is now. He realized that teaching people the power of visualization was his calling.

Why did Aaron write, “Fighter: Defying The NHL Odds?” What is his vision for the future of hockey? Listen to learn more about how this former hockey player is helping others transform their lives.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Aaron Volpatti


Aaron Volpatti is an Author, Cognitive Performance and Injury Coach, Speaker, retired NHL player, burn survivor, and a graduate from Brown University- B.Sc Human Biology. A pioneer in Cinematic Visualization and athletic performance, Aaron’s unique practice has helped athletes all over the world. Born and raised in Revelstoke, British Columbia, he is a guitar aficionado and wannabe rockstar. He’s a professional dabbler—spending his free time fishing, hunting, camping, golfing, playing squash, or learning a new musical instrument or language. Aaron resides in the beautiful Okanagan in British Columbia with his wife Michelle, and his son Finn.

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Aaron Volpatti Unveils His Journey Beyond the Ice, Episode #181

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