In part one of our two part series, Boston, Mass., native, Jeremy Roenick regaled us with how he exuded confidence as a player. Now in part two, he explains how to find it once it’s lost and ways to be that confident teammate everyone needs.
Confidence isn’t always like riding a bike. When it’s dinged or lost, finding it again isn’t so prescriptive or easy. It can also be complicated.
“It's really hard,” Roenick admits. “Number one, and I got caught doing this, you start blaming other aspects – other people, outside stuff. ‘Nobody gave me the puck,’ or, ‘This guy didn't do this for me.’ It's easy to blame outside aspects. But the great players, they practice harder. They practice longer. They change what they're doing.”
Keeping in touch with the truth can’t hurt, either.
“Maybe you think you're working hard, but you're not working in the right direction,” says Roenick. “If you're going to the net, maybe you pulled up. Maybe you might be waiting on the hash for a puck. Well, maybe you should get to the front of the net by the crease where the puck usually ends up in the first place.
“If you can work on devoting yourself to making the right decisions, and sometimes someone might know the right decisions, but they think, ‘Whoa, if I go there, I’m going to get hit.’ That's not the right answer. Sometimes, you have to fool yourself and do it the proper way.”
As a leader, the almost legendarily brash and charismatic Roenick often found himself in a place of having to help his teammates regain confidence, too. He saw it as his job not to give up on them.
“Just continue to press the buttons,” he says. “It's constant accountability. If somebody has a bad game, you say, ‘Come on, man, you have to be better than that.' And I expected the same in return. If I was no good, I wanted my teammates to let me know that, too."
Confidence for kids
Roenick’s experience, of course, is not only infinitesimally rare for having reached the heights that he did, but that big-boy, professional game is also very different from what youth hockey brings to the hundreds of thousands who love to play the game at a level nowhere near the NHL.
For kids, it’s a game. As well it should be. Confidence comes from enjoying the game and playing it in a way that allows room for development.
“I think for kids, you have to have a different mentality,” says Roenick. “With kids, life isn't ending if you don't win. You're not going to lose friends because you lost a game. Or missed a shot. For kids, we’re out here to have fun. You're out with your friends. You're not getting paid for this. Nobody's going to write anything bad in the papers about you.
“You're here to have fun. That's why you play the game. It’s positive feedback with kids. For kids, it's a game. For the men, it's a job. For the families and the coaches, make sure that the kids understand that this is fun.”
Be ‘the guy’
Still, every youth player could learn something from just a touch of what Roenick traded on all those years.
“Number one, failure doesn't hurt, physically,” he says. “There's no pain in failure. There's no embarrassment in failure. All kids should be confident and not worry about losing.”
But, oh, to win …
“I like to have kids picture themselves on top of somebody's shoulders,” Roenick says. “Picture what that feeling is like after you win a championship and your teammates pick you up on their shoulders. What kind of exhilaration is that? And then strive to have that come true. Be the guy who wants the puck. Accept that challenge. Some days, you might not score, but you're still going to be alive. Your parents are still going to love you.
“And guess what? The day you do score that goal, the feeling you're going to get of exhilaration and satisfaction and brilliance, when your teammates are hailing you as the guy who got it done, that should be your motivation all the time. To try be the guy.”
For Roenick, this became another motivating factor.
“That feeling never goes away,” he says. “And when you want that feeling all the time, you’re like, ‘Give me the puck!’ But … you have to understand that, if you want the puck, it’s not always going to go the way you want it to. But there will be other opportunities. The one time you’re successful will make you forget about the 10 that you weren’t. That’s a pretty bold feeling.”
And it may all start with a small boost of confidence.