Crushing Doubt


Doubt is the opposite of confidence. doubt in yourself or your abilities typically leads to careful, timid performance and lackluster results. Sometimes players will doubt their abilities before a big game or at an important point in the game. This doubt can cause them to hold back and be less of the player they really are, all because for the fleeting moment, they have doubts.

President FDR once said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!” and this was at a time when America was weak and needing a wake-up call. What about you? Is doubt or fear holding you back? Could you use a wake-up call?

You are the only one who truly knows when you have doubts. Doubt about your skill, doubts about your toughness, doubts about your ability to play like you need to play to be successful on the ice. And whether this doubt turns out to be correct or not, it’s a good bet that doubt won’t make you a better player. Nobody is going to congratulate you for being right about your doubts. “Congratulations Tyler! You said you couldn’t do it and you were right!” Think about how stupid that sounds. Yet, subconsciously we do this all the time.

The Complete Player learns how to cut off doubt before it ruins confidence and performance. Doubt is the opposite of confidence. Doubt is a cancer to your hockey mind and can hold you back and limit your ability to perform.

Since doubt can pop up at any time, the first step in overcoming doubt is to be aware of the images and thoughts that make up doubt in your mind. Whether it’s negative thoughts, or negative self-talk, or negative feelings, when doubt starts to raise it’s ugly head, you have to be able to recognize it quickly and smack it down.

Negative doubts can either be directed inward towards yourself, such as “I can’t beat this goalie today” or outward, such as, “I don’t think we can beat this team” or “I hope Cody can keep up on my line today“. The thing about doubt is it can sometimes cause you to experience the exact thing you wanted to avoid. Have you ever heard the statement you move in the direction of your thoughts? What it means is, when you’re focused on something, you tend to move toward it. That’s the nasty part about doubt. When you doubt, you're setting the stage for you to be right.

The key to crushing doubt is to recognize when you’re having doubting thoughts and crush them by putting your thoughts on what you want rather than what you don’t want. Most negative thoughts are a form of doubt. Practice catching yourself having negative thoughts and develop strategies to smack them down!

Check out The Fearless Player workbook from The Complete Player Workbook Series to build mental toughness strategies and crush doubt.

Kevin L. Willis, PhD
Sport Psychologist
Performance Coach
Level 5 USA Hockey Coach

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