How To Build a Young Hockey Players Confidence

How To Build a Young Hockey Players Confidence

In her book ‘Be Bold! And discover the power of praise’ Susan Mitchell explains that “focusing on what you are good at builds confidence.”  It is one of those strange things that happens because often what we try and do is learn new things we want to get better at. We do that, and feel bad because we fail at achieving them.

So here are four things you can do to help your child build up their confidence:

Help them focus on what they are good at.

As Susan says this is the key to helping your young hockey player build their confidence. It takes 10,000 hours to truly master something. And as you will likely know yourself, the more you do something the easier it gets and the more confident you feel about your ability to then perform that task.

There’s that point in your learning curve where you just do that thing without even thinking. That right there is about having a high enough level of confidence that you don’t need to think about what you are doing.  That’s the place you want to help your young player get to.

Talk to them about what they are good at. Explain how the more they focus on doing that one thing, the better and easier it will become to do it, on the ice. When they feel confident enough to not even think and just do that thing instantly, then they will have mastered it.

Find that one thing they are good at, and work with them on that one thing. Just for a while, to build up their confidence. If they try something new from this place of feeling confident, they will likely master it a lot easier than if their confidence is down and they think of themselves as ‘not good at.’

Stop them trying to do too much.

Often times your young player might be trying to learn so many things at once that they don’t become confident with any of them. Help them to narrow down what they are learning or mastering. You might help them decide that for the next month they will focus on their stickhandling, for example. Or maybe when they didn’t make the team at tryouts, the Coach suggested they work on one particular area of their game.

Support your player to focus on that one thing. By focusing and not thinking about anything else, it helps them slowly build up their confidence. Remember, the more they practice the more they will begin to feel confident in their abilities.

When you talk to them, they might feel confident about their abilities in a couple of areas but want to be learning others. Help them understand that in order to be great at something you need to have practiced it many times. And before they tell you they are bored just doing that one thing, find some different drills for them to do that focuses on that one area of their game.

You might want to download the Infamous Hockey App from the Apple Play store and have your child work on a Challenge. Currently there are two challenges available 10,000 shots or 10,000 figure 8’s.

Using this as an incentive will help your child focus on one skill and along the way Infamous hand out prizes, so it become even more fun for them to aim to get to that 10,000 mark and be fully confident doing that skill.

Mastering something takes 10,000 hours.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talked about the need for someone to practice for 10,000 hours to master that skill. It turns out what he didn’t mention that was part of the 1993 research paper titled “The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance” was that students also need to receive personal instruction with a teacher, in this case a coach.

It would be the Coaches job to look at your child and see which skills they have picked up, which ones need more work, and which ones they still need to grasp. This individual attention on their skill set will help your child to focus on that skill they want to be really good at first. And the teacher can help them learn the best way to go about that.

There would be nothing like your child continuing to practice something and rack up their 10,000 hours only to find they have been doing that play incorrectly. Maybe they don’t need to spend 10,000 hours doing that skill, maybe it is more about how they perform. If a coach says “Yeah, that’s great, you’ve got it”, that is the confidence boost your child needs to continue practicing.

A positive mindset is everything.

You will know by now how much having a positive mindset makes a big difference to the way your child plays hockey. And I am not talking about the forced positive self talk. This is about the internal belief in themselves that is self-confidence.

When your child believes in themselves and doesn’t have mind chatter that tells them they are not good enough or not doing something properly, it shows in their game, their practice, their demeanor and how they are in life.

Watching your child’s body language can help you understand where their mindset is at. If you notice them slouching and looking down, their mind is likely to not be in such a great place. Whereas if they are standing tall, smiling and having fun, they are likely to feel good about themselves and what they are doing.

Support your child to have that ‘positive’ you are good enough, you can do this attitude. Self belief is an amazing thing for confidence.

Want to understand the mental side of the game of hockey? Karen Cherrett, Emotions Educator and Mental Skills Coach helps parents support their child's mental wellness; and Coaches to understand mental skills management for their players.  

Back to blog