Athletes hate talking about it in fear of losing or having their secret weapon disappear. They just don’t want to jinx it. Those brave and courageous enough to mention it have experienced the highs and lows of the most lethal weapon in their arsenal, their confidence.

Confidence is any athletes greatest ally or worst enemy. The battlefield is one played in the mind. The game within the game, the search for confidence.

A player’s confidence can come and go, but along the way it reveals their true character, passion and resiliency, that’s what makes many hockey player’s journey in the game at any level so special.

As they say the road less travelled is often the most rewarding, but every athlete can name the coach or teammate that was a difference maker in their path in the sport. Every athlete can remember the moments when their confidence was lacking or disappeared. Every athlete experiences the ups and downs of the sport from time to time, but hitting rock bottom when it comes to the emotions and confusion of losing your confidence can be debilitating.

That adversity can define their overall experience, their season and ultimately their future in the sport. Obviously, mistakes happen all of the time in the game of hockey and players can’t always experience success, but how much can a young player tolerate or endure before they lose their confidence?

“Clearly that’s up to them,” “Oh they will have to get a lot tougher mentally if they want to make it.”

You hear those phrases being thrown around a lot in the sporting world. Confidence is an intrinsic, but it can from a lot different places which definitely adds layers to any athletes arsenal.

You see this is where the disconnects lies in many cases of the game. It would be wonderful to see every young athlete have coaches or mentors like mine  (Dale Turner, Chuck Cormier to name a few)  that would lift a person up instead of putting the player down or burying their confidence. Don’t get me wrong some the best coaches I ever had would never shy away from a dose of reality, but you knew as a player and person they had your back, no matter what, they believed in you, they had confidence in you.

Sure, it might always come back to the person, the kid, their make-up, but where do the adults in their lives fit in the grand scheme of things? How supportive are they? How much pressure are they putting kids under?

Obviously, confidence can come from a vast array of places. The value of confidence isn’t a secret. It can define a player’s journey, but what role do their parents and coaches play in their overall confidence?

Confidence comes with opportunity, confidence comes from experiencing positive results, but sometimes young players need to hear positive feedback from those adults in their lives that matter most, the ones that they admire.

The smallest message of encouragement can take an athlete to amazing heights.  Some might say a dose of reality is the best teacher, to each their own, but a boost of confidence is simply uplifting especially if it comes from the right person or an unexpected, respected source or figure within the game at the right time.

Players and kids, these days can see through all the surface area insincere taps on the back or wishy-washy feedback. What kids these days need are reps, experience, room to fail and grow in a safe understanding, fun atmosphere, or environment. Nonetheless, the most important aspect in all of this is  they need someone that will communicate, someone that’s able to reach them on the personal level. At the pro level that might be accountability, but at the minor hockey league level all young athletes need someone to tell them how valued they are, not how good they are, but just how important they are. That on it’s own will be enough for any young person’s confidence to soar.

Players and kids these days don’t need to toughen up, they need to learn about themselves, they need to learn about what makes them tick, how they handle pressure, how they cope with adversity.

That doesn’t mean that it has to be thrown in their face every time they go to the rink. They have to be challenged, but they need to understand the power of confidence and how it will dramatically effect their journey in the game. They need support. They need encouragement.

Confidence can come from all different places. Case in point, have you ever told a 14-year-old kid that they are doing great and have them start crying?  

Have you ever told a kid how proud you are of them and have them cry almost instantly? Kids need positive feedback, kids need to feel valued, these hockey players are just kids, they need a confidence boost, a matter of fact we all do. Confidence is any athletes greatest ally or worst enemy. The battlefield is one played in the mind. The game within the game, the search for confidence. Let’s empower kids, let’s be a source of reality, but a source of confidence.

See you at the rink,

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