The one part of everyone's game that is usually always disregarded and pushed to the side but yields the most results. Confidence. A lot of players lack confidence which makes playing and staying consistent difficult, which causes them to fall in the line up and causes a whole list of issues. That is why it is becoming more and more important and looked at in today's game, more sports psychologists, more work in the off-season developing better habits and positive self-talk, etc.
Well, here we are today to help you build confidence and stay confident. Confidence is relative, it is really person to person based what may help me stay confident won't help you perhaps. But I can guarantee some simple practices to ensure confidence. Take a look at the best NHL players or even hockey players you know. Why are they good? Sure, they are good skaters, smart, good shot, consistent, whatever you want to put in this category so be it. BUT, there is a whole other part of their game they are not telling you about that helps them be so good. Their confidence. Take a look at Elias Pettersson right now. A 20-year-old Swede playing his first season as a professional. 20-year-old playing in the NHL is not easy (I cannot relate but we can all agree) but the kid still manages to come in every night and be a difference maker. Pettersson literally threw Bo Horvat into the limelight in Vancouver. Pettersson has 27 goals, 33 assists for 60 points in 61 games, pretty darn good if you ask anyone. For example his shootout move vs New Jersey the amount of confidence he has in himself to pull that move off is something else. That move alone shows how much confidence he has in himself. Or for example take a look at Jordan Binnington right now. 25-year-old getting his first NHL shot, drafted in the 3rd round in 2011 and has a 1.77 goals against, .931 save percentage and 17 wins in 22 games started. How, because he is confident.
You may be thinking to yourself it sounds easier than it is, these guys are professionals and exceeded at the highest ranks so confidence for them is not hard to develop.
First off, use them as an example. Do not emulate or try to be something or someone you are not, that is step one to building confidence. Be happy in your own skin, your own game and look at the positive aspects of who you are and what you bring to the table. Confidence just like skating, shooting, passing, etc is developed over time you do not just wake up one day and are confident. Just like you do not just wake up one day and can skate like Elias Pettersson. Look at what you do and be the absolute best in that field, position, aspect whatever it may be. Great face off guy? Perfect it. Play-maker? Perfect it. Get some confidence in one area before you try to move to the next. For example, want to build confidence off the ice in the weight room, get in there two days a week continue to push yourself until it is 5-6 times a week and you know no matter what you will show up.
Therefore step two, practice confidence daily. Constantly have good head space, meaning always be feeding yourself with positive thoughts, affirmations and praise. Mess up in practice, miss the net on a shot chalk it up, look past it and realize you have 300 more shots this practice to make it better. Learn to tell yourself it is one time and one time does not define who I am or what I am capable of. Coach is getting on your back, you just had a rough first period. The best players bounce back and know how to bounce back. For me I always said, sure the period was not great but that is why this is a new period, clean slate time to make something happen.
Step three, believe in yourself. Something a lot of kids do not do. If you cannot believe you are going to score, play well, make a nice play, or whatever it may be it will not happen. The biggest difference in these NHL players being consistent super stars year after year is that they believe in themselves. You think Nikita Kucherov is walking into games thinking "man I don't know if I have it today. I'm not good enough" I GUARANTEE you he is walking into games thinking how many points today? Had three last game let's get four. He is always believing he can be better and he is always believing in himself to show up perform and be the best player out there.
These three SIMPLE steps can turn from a bottom six or number six defenseman into the making of a top six, top-four defenseman. (1) Don't try and be something you are not and don't try an do what you can't do. Control what you can and cope with you can't. Look at the positive aspects of your game and do them at 110% every day. (2) Positive self-talk every day, every practice, every game. Mess up, who cares Michael Jordan missed a million shots in his career look what he did. Everyday constantly feed yourself with positive thoughts and positive affirmations. When doubt or negativity creeps into your mind, tell it to f**k off, it has not place in your mind. (3) Always, ALWAYS believe in yourself. Without self belief and trust in yourself you will get no where. The best players are the best players because they believed they could be the best players night in and night out.
I know these sound simple but the key to them all is that they have to be a constant practice that is why I said you do not just wake up one day and are confident it is developed over months and years. The reason the title is build confidence and stay confident is because these practices need to be a daily habit not just a three month practice. Every day until it is ingrained in your brain and subconscious this need to be done to build confidence and stay confident.
Good luck out there, be confident!