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Hockey Confidence: The Essential Ingredient


Confidence is what you need to succeed in life. Hockey Confidence helps you put that concept into action.


By Matt Schoepflin

The term hockey confidence is one we hear about all the time, and rightfully so.

It’s absolutely vital for players and teams to have it in order to be successful. It makes perfect sense: If you’re playing well you’re playing with confidence; and on the flip side, if you’re struggling you’re probably lacking it.

While none of this is earth shattering, there is one thing that really amazes me about people and their confidence and the way they think about it. Confidence, at its core, is solely individual based. In other words, no one can give you confidence.


As a coach, I can sit down and talk with a player and tell them how great I think they are. But unless they actually believe it, they won’t have hockey confidence. That doesn’t mean that exterior factors (like having a supportive coach) don’t play into the overall building of confidence, because they do. But at the end of the day, it comes down to you as the individual to believe in yourself and your abilities.

A Positive and Healthy Support System

To backtrack for a minute, one of the exterior factors I’m referring to is having a positive and healthy support system surrounding you. That can include teammates, coaches, family, and friends. You need people in your life who have your back and are there to support you through the good times and the bad. These things help build hockey confidence. But just to clarify: they are there to help build confidence but aren’t the ultimate reason you’re confident. You are confident because you know it and believe it deep down in your heart and mind.

So what’s one thing you can do today to help you build your hockey confidence? Focus on the small successes.

It’s the Little Things

Too often we only focus on big victories as the only real measures of success. While these are absolutely beneficial to becoming more confident, they aren’t sustainable enough to help us build our confidence on a consistent basis.

Another way to think about it is that we can’t win a state championship every day; it’s just not possible. However, we can (and we should) be working on our confidence every day.

It’s amazing how much of a difference focusing on small things can make in helping to build your confidence up every day. Things like blocking a shot, making a tape-to-tape pass, winning a one-on-one battle, taking a hit to make a play, having an active stick and breaking up a scoring opportunity… the list can go on and on.

Personally, I started to understand this concept as I was graduating from high school. I used to be like most players, where I based my ‘did I play good or bad?’ strictly on whether or not I scored a goal. Man, was that counterproductive.

Looking back, the real turning point for me was when I got to prep school. We won a close game 3-2, where I scored a couple goals, including the game winner with only a few minutes left in the third period.

The next day, I ended up having a conversation with our coach about the game. He told me he thought I played really well. My initial gut reaction was that I agreed with him but I figured he said that just because I scored a couple goals. He never mentioned a thing about either goal, not once. Instead, he talked about what he thought was a major turning point, which was when we were short-handed late in the second period and I made a big shot block. To be honest, I had forgotten about the play until he brought it up.

The second point he brought up was another play that to most casual observers was lost in the mix. He talked about how on the backcheck in the third period I read the play well and picked up their late third guy joining the rush, and prevented him from being a scoring threat. Kind of crazy to think about, but those were the two things that stood out to him as to why he thought I had played a good game.

Needless to say, that conversation had made an impact on the way I thought about the game, doing my job and success in general. (I mean, that conversation was 14 years ago and I still remember it.) My perspective began to change on what was really important and what it really meant to contribute. In turn, my confidence continued to grow.

The more I started to focus on the small successes, the more confident I became. Not only did it help me find more success consistently, it helped eliminate the roller coaster of emotion that sometimes plagues players whose only focus is on the numbers.

I really started to realize that being a good player—and more importantly a confident player—meant doing a lot more things than scoring goals.

Once my thought process changed it became easier to find positive things to focus on, which in turn helped my confidence grow every day.

Hockey and life is all about making progress. If you can become 1% more confident every day, I guarantee you’ll start to notice a huge difference in your game.

So I am putting the challenge out there to all of you to start finding little victories in everything you do…each and every day. Do this and your confidence will continue to grow—both in hockey and in life.

What do you currently do to help build your confidence? Post your comment below and let us know!

Matt Schoepflin has been around the game of hockey since the age of two, when he first learned to skate. He finished his competitive career at the NCAA level. Since then, he’s become incredibly passionate about coaching and giving back to the game that has given him so much. Through his website, Boost Hockey, he aims to help players grow into the individuals they want to be.


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