How to Gain Confidence in Hockey
“If only I had more confidence, then…”
Have you ever muttered these words?
This common sentiment is echoed by many hockey players from youth players to the pros.
Consider the experience by goaltender Gary G:
Gary is a decent player who starts for his youth club team. Gary’s confidence is like riding a roller coaster, one day his confidence is high, while other times, his confidence seems to have disappeared.
Gary’s bad games are really bad! In the locker prior to the first period, Gary feels pretty good and ready to go.
Midway through the first period, Gary lets in a goal on a shot he normally would save and his inner critic starts up hurling insults within his own head, “What the heck. I can’t believe I let in that goal. I always give up the easy goals. I’m the worst goalie.”
By now, Gary’s negative self-talk has totally eroded his confidence and his play on the ice reflects his beaten down confidence as he gives up three more goals in the first period and is benched for the second period.”
When your inner critic takes over, it becomes impossible to move forward after a bad play and focus on the task at hand. Your negative critic is no different than the coach that berates his players after every mistake making you feel worthless.
Head coach Clark Donatelli of the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton understands how to foster confidence in his hockey players and the team’s confident play has produced consistent positive results. WBC are ranked first overall in the American Hockey League standings with a record of 22-7-3.
Donatelli’s formula for confidence is simple:
Praise his players for the things they do right, don’t beat the dead horse when mistakes occur and be patient when things are not going right.
DONATELLI: “All the players down here, they know when they go up they have to do it 97 percent right all the time. To get to that number is a process that these kids go through down here and it can be frustrating at times.”
“But you’ve got to just keep sticking with it and keep instilling confidence in these guys and when they do it right, praise them. You can’t just be harping on them when they’re doing it wrong.”
“You’ve got to capture those moments when things are going good and you have to let them know that you see the details and the habits.”
Imagine if you followed the same recipe. Imagine how much your confidence would grow if you replaced the inner critic with your own inner positive coach…
And finally, envision how much better you would play if your confidence level was higher.
Confidence is under your control so stop reveling in the negative and start rewarding yourself for all the things you do well.
Top Confidence Strategy For Any Hockey Player
After each period or each practice, point out three successes. For example, you made a great save, threaded the needle on a pass, made a goal saving poke check, stayed positive after your pass was intercepted, etc.
Be aware when you start to engage in negative self-talk, stop and remind yourself to be your own best coach.
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