Photo Credit: Mark Cannons Photography
Hockey is always a work in progress and our players are always working to develop and master new skills. As they grow and try out new things on the ice, confidence can feel like a roller coaster at times with them reacting to what happens on every shift. Kids will play better when they believe in themselves and don’t have the feeling of looking over their shoulder when they make a mistake.
For an internal trait like confidence it can be difficult for coaches or parents to see or understand what’s going on in a player’s head. Interpreting body language can be the first indicator that a player may be struggling with what’s happening on the ice. All players go through ups and downs but creating a foundation for their success is crucial.
Here are some ways for players to build or regain their confidence.
The best way to master a skill is through repetition. Improvement doesn’t happen overnight – it takes hours of practice (some say 10,000). Focus on the long-term process and set short-term goals to meet throughout. Want to shoot 5000 pucks to work on your accuracy? Instead of doing it all in one night, aim for shooting 100 each day. That’s the focus of the OMHA Players Club presented by HockeyShot. Meaningful repetitions pay off in the long run.
Parents play perhaps the most important role in their child’s confidence. What they say (and how they say it) can unexpectedly put unwanted pressure on a player. Emphasize the enjoyment you have in seeing them have fun on the ice. Don’t compare them to other players or put expectations on them. Punishing failure gives children the idea that they are not playing to enjoy themselves but rather to not disappoint you. Supportive parents can make all the difference.
In a team sport like hockey, players are fortunate enough to have a locker room full of teammates that bring each other up. Having the unwavering support of fifteen or twenty other people can help build a foundation of confidence. Teammates need each other on the ice to work together as a unit. Encouraging each other and maintaining a positive attitude can go a long way. When you’re also friends off of the ice that helps bring everyone closer together.
Everyone has slumps. Sometimes players try to overthink what’s happening on the ice and forget that the simplest play can often be the best play. Making the easy pass or taking the clear shot are two small but meaningful ways to find success by making the right decisions. These fundamentals can serve as building blocks for any player to fall back on when they need a confidence boost. Use mistakes as learning opportunities.
It’s important to remember that that even if you play at your best you may not always win the game. Sometimes it’s just unlucky bounces or it may just be that the other team was better. Don’t let yourself get lost in self-doubt or have one bad play outweigh the ten positive things you did on the ice.
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