WARNING: this one persistent thought can put you flat on your face and ruin your hockey future


Core beliefs are like magnets. They are always waiting to attract evidence which confirms them. The more evidence they collect, the stronger they get.

Unfortunately, they repel anything which does not ‘fit’ with the belief.

This makes it hard to ‘see’ or believe anything which would contradict or undermine them.

With practice and perseverance, they can be changed so that they move you forward rather than hold you back.

There are several types of core beliefs, and each carry with them baggage that has the potential to weigh you down and hold you back if you don’t understand and manage them … Check out the list below and see if any of these sound familiar to you.

Destructive Core Beliefs – These beliefs make you feel that you are somehow inherently flawed, incompetent, or inferior to others. Thinking this way will often cause you to withdraw or pull away from things that could otherwise help you move forward. Low confidence and a poor self-image are a result of having too many destructive core beliefs and this way of thinking will hold you back faster than any other core belief. Some examples of this way of thinking include:

* I’m not good enough

* I can’t get anything right

* I’m stupid

* I’m inferior

* I don’t deserve anything good

* There’s something wrong with me

* I do not measure up to others

Entitlement Core Beliefs – Entitlement beliefs are a tricky beast. Where on one side I like a player with confidence and a cocky attitude, when it turns into arrogance and entitlement, then it can not only hold players back, but it will frustrate and irritate everyone around them. Those who maintain an entitlement core belief assume they are superior and deserve a lot of attention or praise. And they act in ways that show no awareness of how it makes others feel around them. Many times they act this way is because they DON’T feel special and so they act out to make up for this feeling of inadequacy. We know when we’re talking to someone who thinks they’re too cool for school, and we usually want to turn around and walk away from them. Like I said, this core belief can be tricky because where I want players to believe in their ability and to believe they deserve to be successful, when it turns into a feeling of entitlement at the expense of others, then it’s gone too far. Here are a few examples of entitlement beliefs:

* If people don’t respect me, I can’t stand it

* I deserve a lot of attention and praise

* I’m superior (and am entitled to special treatment and privileges)

* If I don’t excel, then I’m inferior and worthless

* If I don’t excel, I’ll just end up ordinary

* I am a very special person (and other people should treat me that way)

* I don’t have to be bound by the rules that apply to other people

* People have no right to criticize me

* People don’t understand or get me (because I am freakin awesome)

* I can do no wrong

Powerless Core Beliefs – Helplessness or powerlessness beliefs generally come from a feeling of a lack control and an inability to handle anything effectively or independently. Players that think this way find it difficult to change and grow. Sometimes this way of thinking can cause players to try to OVER control a situation to make up for their feelings of having no control … and how do you think that works out in the long run? .. you’re right … not good. Here are a couple of examples of powerless core beliefs:

* I’m powerless

* I’m out of control

* I’m weak

* I’m vulnerable

* I’m trapped

* I’m ineffective

* I do not measure up to others

* I can’t change

* I can’t handle anything

* I can’t do it

* I’m a loser

Responsibility Core Beliefs – These are beliefs that you must somehow sacrifice your own growth and development for others. As with the other beliefs we have talked about, there are responsibility beliefs that move you forward and responsibility beliefs that hold you back. The trick is to know the difference and make sure that when you find you have responsible beliefs that are holding you back, that you take action to correct them. One responsibility belief that every player should have is “I’m a team player and I will always put team success ahead of my own” This is the attitude and belief that every player should have for anything they do. Remember a team is always stronger when everyone stands together than when individuals stand alone. BUT, these feelings of self-sacrifice can be taken too far and then you end up a martyr. Here are some examples of ways of thinking that demonstrate taking the idea of responsibility and self-sacrifice too far:

* I have to do everything perfectly

* If I make a mistake, it means I’m careless or a failure

* It’s not okay to ask for help

* I have to do everything myself

* If I don’t do it, no one will

* I’m responsible for everyone and everything

* I can’t trust or rely on another person

what are your core beliefs?

are they helping you or holding you back?

now understand, everyone has negative thoughts that pop into our heads. it’s normal to think that way sometimes. What’s not normal, and what will hold you back faster than anything else, is when this kind of thinking becomes pervasive and the way you think all the time. If you find yourself thinking like this all the time, then there is a good chance your core beliefs are hurting your hockey development. Don’t let this happen!

So what is the one thought that can put you flat on your face and ruin your hockey future? Well, it depends. It depends on the player. Everyone is different. I can tell you that all of the examples above have the potential to derail your hockey future if you don’t recognize and do something about it.

what changes can you (should you) make to these beliefs to help you get off to a great start this season?

these are questions that many players don’t think about … except for the really exceptional players … the great players think about these kinds of questions … they think about them, they look for answers, and they change their thinking and actions to make sure the core beliefs that haven’t served them in the past aren’t getting in the way of their future …

then you have to ask yourself … do these elite players do this because they’re elite players?? … OR … are they elite players because they do these kinds of things?

mental toughness is a skill … just like skating, passing, and shooting … mental toughness is a skill and the more you use it, the stronger you will get

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

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