As anyone sitting watching someone play sport, I can see things or think I see things that the person themselves may not realise, until I comment on it.
I’ve done that previously in talking to someone AFTER they’ve played and I’ve commented on what I saw and they, when they stopped and thought about it, said that yes they were feeling that way, or thinking that way, at that moment.
Funny how that happens. Yet, when they were there in the thick of it all, they didn’t realize what was going on in their mind.
Which is why in this article I want to focus on confidence versus lack of confidence.
I’m going to talk about goalies again in my examples only because I’ve been watching a lot of hockey again lately, given the NHL season has resumed. Something I’m really happy about.
I enjoy studying the NHL players and watching how their mental game impacts what happens on the ice.
So, whilst I talk about goalies the same things apply for any player in any position.
Let’s first talk about confidence.
What is Confidence?
The origin of the word confidence is confidential: to be firmly trusting, bold.
That’s what you see when you watch someone that is confident in their ability. They appear to others to firmly trust in themselves and their ability to play their game (in whatever position they play in).
In a game last night the Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz had a shut out. The only way a goaltender can have a shutout, aside from the support that he receives from his teammates in front of the net, is to be confident in his own ability to stop that puck.
Francouz showed that confidence in last nights game. He spoke to the media after the game and said that he didn’t feel nervous going into the game, which was unusual for him. That said to me that he knew within himself that he could do his job; perform to his best and be confident in that.
Now the flip side of that is of course lack of confidence.
The Impact of Lack of Confidence
If you have a lack of trust in your own abilities and you second guess or question yourself as you play this has a big impact on your game.
Take, for example, the Colorado Avalanches other goaltender, Phillip Graubauer. In the first game the Avalanche played against the St Louis Blues there was a time during the second period after Graubauer had let in a goal that I watched his confidence drop.
He was struggling to stay focused on what he was doing. He was rushing out of his crease to try and stop the puck, something that often doesn’t work.
There were a few times when he had to make crazy saves, which, if he’d been on his game and confident in his ability to stop the puck would have been easier.
This is a great example of the impact of lacking in confidence, making life harder for yourself.
When you lack that confidence in your abilities you ‘try’ and trying means you get into thinking about what you are doing. As I’ve mentioned before, being in your head and thinking about things takes you away from letting your own instincts shine.
You become too focused on trying to convince yourself that you’ve got this (whatever this happens to be in your game) and less on having fun and playing the game the way you know-how.
Lack of Confidence Leads To More Stress
Having a lack of confidence in your own ability leads to more stress, both mentally as well as physically.
You know for example away from the rink, that if you’ve had a day of worrying about school work and how you’ll manage it all, you feel tired at the end of the day.
And I’m talking about both mental tiredness as well as physical tiredness.
Now imagine if you have that happen while you’re on the ice in the middle of a critical game? Not great.
You want to be mentally and physically energized and alert to play at your best.
How To Combat Lack of Confidence
The best thing to do, if you or someone else, notices you are lacking in confidence, and don’t ever be afraid to ask someone else what they see when you play, is to pay attention to what was going on mentally.
What were you thinking? Were you doubting yourself? Were you overthinking the play?
Where were you mentally?
Then stop and see yourself easily doing what it was you thought you couldn’t. If you’re a goalie, remember when you saved that puck coming from that same position previously. Notice that you saved it, no sweat.
Remember how you made those same saves at practice. You can do it, you simply need to trust in yourself and your ability to play your best.
Karen Cherrett is a Sports Mindset Coach who specializes in coaching hockey players. Karen coaches players to be more focused and play with ease, not stress. And their parents to support their child in the best possible way. Life playing hockey should be fun. Mindset matters. Mental health matters. Hockey should be fun, not emotionally overloading.