Saturday, October 8, 2011

To Perform Great You Need Confidence, Here's How to Develop It: Entry 1 of 5

Blog Entry 1: Boosting Your Confidence and Your Game (there will be a series of 5 blog posts in the next few weeks)

The difference between winning and losing is so small. The Red Wings-Sharks series during the 2011 NHL Playoffs is a perfect example. The Sharks won in 7 games, but Detroit lost on several deflected pucks in overtime. Very easily those pucks aren’t deflected or go directly into Jimmy Howard’s pads. How much Detroit really could have done to better the luck is debatable, San Jose played excellent hockey, but clearly they had a great chance to win the series.

While a team does not control the bounces, a factor that is controllable and absolutely essential to winning and good performances is confidence. Do not take my word for it, though, you hear and read about confidence as a necessary quality for success by professional players all the time.

Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks talked about the reasons for his excellent play in the 2011 playoffs

“I built the confidence up. Whoever I'm with on the ice, I feel confident. Last year and this year with the success, definitely helps the confidence.” (May 16, 2011; ASAP sports)

Confidence is necessary to win at the highest levels of hockey, and really at all competitive levels. The way you think makes all the difference in winning and losing. We all know this, but only some players actually discipline themselves to think positively and productively in pressure situations. The majority of players on the other hand place limits on themselves. They doubt their abilities, skills, and chances of being successful. They even sometimes doubt that they deserve hockey success (let alone in life). I like to think of these things as ceilings. They put a limit on how high you can go. Unfortunately, many times these ceilings are self-imposed; we put these limits on ourselves and let them block our true potential. Do you do this?

It’s time to blow up your ceiling. One of the most famous ceiling breakers was Sir Roger Bannister the first human being recorded to have run a sub 4-minute mile. At one time it was thought impossible.

“Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt. Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.”
Roger Bannister (After becoming the first person to break the four-minute mile)

Bannister broke the 4-minute mile on May 6, 1954 (from In the following 18 months more than 45 athletes also broke this barrier. Why could not one of these runners break the 4-minute mile prior to Bannister? Had to be the belief that it could be done.

If you are limiting your hockey performance by the way you think it is time to stop and instead envision what you could be.

"Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision." Muhammad Ali

To turn your vision into reality you must have a plan for boosting your confidence so that you play hockey at a higher level consistently.

The Pyramid of Confidence (Lauer, 2010)

Confidence Pressure Training
Disciplined Thinking (Thinking Positive and Productive)
Commitment (Daily habits/routines that focus you on goals)

Awareness (Knowing your self & how respond to situations)
Personality (Who you are; what you bring to the table)

From my experience as a researcher and consultant I believe that there are generally five layers to your hockey confidence. These can be viewed as a pyramid because a lower level is the foundation for higher levels of confidence. At the foundation is what you bring to the table – your personality. Basically, who are you as a person and a hockey player?

The Pyramid of Confidence shows you just how you can develop your confidence. Be aware of your personality as a person and a player, commit to being fit mentally and physically by following routines, discipline yourself to be positive and productive in the way you think about all situations, and train to be confident under pressure.

In the next blog entry on confidence I will describe how your personality influences your performance and the importance of awareness.

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