Creating Confidence in Sport

confident young athlete

Creating Confidence

Having confidence in your abilities is critical in achieving the goals you have set for yourself. This article will focus on how to create a confident mindset through preparation, trust, and your choice of focus.

Confidence is a Choice

We all know someone who isn’t good at something, yet thinks that they are. The people who audition for “American Idol” are a perfect example of this. Everyone knows that the people who tryout are not the best singers in America (and sometimes could quite possibly be the worst). However, the singers themselves are confident because they choose to believe they are good. They are choosing to focus on the fact that they can sing (i.e., make sound come from their mouth) and that they are doing their best.

Confidence is simply defined as the belief that you can successfully perform a chosen behavior. Whether your behavior is singing, scoring a goal, or winning a game, confidence comes not from judging how you are playing, but by trusting your ability and knowing you’ve already proven you can play at this level.

Many people think that the only way to be confident is to be successful. While it is true that it is easier to believe in your abilities when you have had proven successes, it is not the only way to feel a sense of confidence. You must always remember that confidence is a choice. Confidence comes from choosing to believe you are good and knowing you can do your job. You control how you view your abilities. Confidence comes from choosing to focus on what you need to do to play well rather than uncontrollable, situational factors. You decide what you want to focus on in any given situation. Confidence also comes from choosing to be positive with yourself. You control your self-talk and can choose to emphasize your strengths. Most importantly, confidence exists when you’re not worrying about being the best, but when you’re focusing on being your best.

How Can I Create Confidence?

The first step in creating confidence is preparation. The more focused you are in practice, the more prepared you will feel when competing. Many people just go through the motions in practice. However, if you fully engage in practice and work to improve every day, then, when you are in the middle of the game, you can trust that you did everything you could to enable yourself to perform your best.

The second step in creating confidence is to act confidently. Our mind reacts to what our body does. If your head is down, your muscles tense, or your shoulders hunched, your mind will sense your self-doubt. If you act, think, and talk confidently, eventually you will feel confident. So always watch your body language, especially after mistakes.

Finally, realize you don’t need other people to tell you that you are good. Many athletes wait for coaches to tell them they are playing well in order to believe in themselves. Some athletes let media or fans who are critical of their play decrease their confidence. Ultimately, you may want others recognize your good performances, but it’s not something you need. You already know you are good and you know when you play well, hearing it from others is just icing on the cake.

A Confidence Building Activity

One thing that decreases confidence is overemphasizing situational factors. Many people tend to complicate their sport by focusing on extraneous issues (fans, last game, playing time) that do not have to influence how they play. A way to build your confidence is to simplify the game. First, list all of the things you need to do to play well. Everything on your list has to be under your control and must be absolutely necessary for you to play your best. For example, your list may include things like: Follow my shots, move my feet, protect the puck…

Before games, pull out your list and ask yourself, “Can I follow my shots? Can I move my feet?” etc… Since everything on your list is something you control and something you can do, you should be able to answer “yes” to each question. By writing it out and simplifying the game for yourself, you are creating a way to tell your mind “I can play this game.” It also boosts your confidence because you know you don’t have to worry about anything not on your list.

Creating Confidence

Remember, you choose to be confident by focusing on what you need to do to perform your best. By increasing your quality of practice and trusting this preparation, you are creating a situation where your confidence and performance can flourish.

Make it Great!