Sport Psychology Newsletter: Confidence

Confidence sign with a beautiful day

Confidence, that thing our coach always talks about… What really is it? Confidence is the positive belief we have in something, anything, that could be our team, our coach, our friends or ourselves. Let’s specify a little more and look at ‘Self-Confidence’.

Self-Confidence is the positive belief we have in our ability to accomplish any task, the belief we have in ourselves to face any challenge in life, no matter the odds, no matter the difficulty. The belief that we will be successful… Self-confidence.

Confidence is the mental skill that can affect our performance, no matter how talented we are. Highly talented players that lack self-confidence, risk never performing at their maximal potential. Equally, less talented players with high self-confidence, often progress further than those with better physical skills but lacking confidence.

Self-Confidence is a skill, not a personality trait, we cannot switch it on and off. Self-Confidence is often described as a skill, because it can be trained and developed. This newsletter is going to show you a couple ways in which to do that. 

REMEMBER: Working on mental training skills is exactly the same as working on physical skills. We don’t get better at something unless we make a conscious effort to work on it. Our body can’t naturally perform the perfect shooting technique; we train it to do that. We don’t go to the gym one time and see results right away, but if we consistently go to the gym every single day, we will eventually begin to see results. Training our mind is no different to this, we can’t naturally be confident, motivated, and mentally tough; we retrain our minds to be full of thoughts that bring about confidence and resilience. Consistency is key.

Self-Assessment Test 

  1. Do you feel comfortable in your skills and your ability?
  2. Do you often focus on your strengths?
  3. Do you often focus on your weaknesses?
  4. Do you feel comfortable trying new things?
  5. Do you often back out of trying new things, worried you’ll fail?
  6. Do you need validation or acceptance from others?
  7. Do you struggle to bounce back after making a mistake?
  8. Do you build others up around you?

1, 2, 4, 8 – You have a good level of Self-Confidence. Let’s build on that!

3, 5, 6, 7 – You may struggle with Self-Confidence. Read on and take notes!

Did You Know?

Self-confidence inspires trust.

A confident person is more likely to gain the trust of those around them. Think about your coach, you trust in them because they’re confident in what they do. Think about the captain on your team, you trust in them because they’re often confident in themselves and the team. Work on your self-confidence so your teammates are inspired to do the same. 

How to become more confidence?

A major mistake we often make is thinking confidence will come to us and waiting for that to happen. Some days we may feel more confident than others, if we have a great game, win player of the match, we feel positive and confident in ourselves, however on other days we may not feel so confident, we may make a mistake or not play at our best and that negative self-talk comes drifting back, telling us we aren’t good enough.

To build true confidence, you must proactively train your mind. When you have true confidence, there is no situation that will be able to knock the belief you have in yourself.

  • Positive Affirmations

A self-affirmation is a statement we tell ourselves to remind us of our worthiness.

Some examples of self-affirmations could be:

“I know I can do this” “I trust in my skills” “That’s okay, I’ll get it next time”.

Muhammed Ali’s self-affirmation was “I am the greatest”. He told himself this from the beginning, long before he became the greatest.

TASK: Now grab your journal and write out 5 of your own positive affirmations.

When we write in a journal, this is simple manner of trickery. Retraining our minds by not only thinking about the affirmations, but seeing them with our eyes as we write them down, and once they’re written down we continue to reread them.

TASK: Write a letter to yourself about all the things you’re proud of.

Congratulate yourself on your own successes, be PROUD of the things you’ve achieved.

Won a championship? Made the ‘A’ team in soccer? Got 100% on a school test?

Write it down: “Congratulation on making the NEFC ‘A’ team!” “Good job on scoring the winning goal of the tournament!” “Nice work, passing the class test!”

  • Positive Self-Talk

Now, let’s reflect on the negative areas you identified earlier, because that is your self-talk. That’s what you tell yourself.  How are we supposed to play great if we don’t feel great about ourselves?

Our thoughts, emotions and behavior are all connected and work in a cycle.

The thoughts we have, decides which emotions we feel, the emotions we feel determines how we behave.

Here’s an example: When you try a new skill, if you tell yourself you can’t do it, that you’re not going to be any good at it. When it comes to trying it, you aren’t going to feel good about yourself, you already don’t believe you can do it. So, guess what? The effort you put into it isn’t going to be 100%, because “I already know I’m no good” and just like you told yourself, you can’t do it. Now, can you imagine the benefits this would have if it was “I can do this” instead of “I can’t”.

  • Positive Visualization

Have you ever heard an athlete say “That’s exactly how I pictured myself doing it”?

Visualization isn’t just the act of seeing ourselves scoring a goal, we have to go into the details of scoring that goal, picture the build-up to the game, the environment we’re in, the sound of our surroundings. Be in that game-like environment in your mind. Feel every detail of that shot, the connection your foot has with the ball, the power you put through the ball, the area of the goal you place the ball. That’s visualization, and there is POWER is picturing ourselves as successful. When we envision ourselves performing well, we’re showing ourselves what is possible, telling ourselves “I CAN DO THIS!”.

Improving yourself helps improves teammates

When we commit to being part of a team, we accept the responsibility of committing to become the best we can be, to help support our teammates to be the best they can be.

Here are a few famously known signs that you’re a great teammate:

  • You’re willing to play any role that helps the team.
  • When your team achieves success, you congratulate your teammates first.
  • You are quick to pick up a teammate who is having a bad day.
  • You help teammates who may be new or younger with less experience.
  • You hold yourself accountable and don’t blame others.
  • You want to lead by example, so you always give 100% effort.

Game day tips

Confident Body Language

This one may sound a little strange, but it works. Think about it, when we’re sad and down, more often than not, we’ve got your head down, shoulders are slouched, and we definitely don’t want to make eye contact with anyone. Now flip that on its head and think about when we’re feeling good about ourselves. Picture this, you’ve just finished a game where you performed great, you’re walking away with a spring in your step, chin held high, shoulders are back, you’re looking around, making eye contact with others, because you feel great about yourself, this is a perfect example of you LOOKING confident.

If you’re ever going through a phase where you lack confidence on the field. Do not show it. Pick your body language up, repeat your positive affirmations to yourself, ACT confident until that belief coming flowing back.

Positive Self-Talk ONLY

Those of you who are wanting to practice and improve your mental training skills, self-talk is the KEY to improving our mental game.

Positive Affirmations – Repeat, repeat, repeat them to yourself. Become persistent at believing in yourself, remind yourself of all that you’ve achieved in your journey to get to where you are. We already know, thoughts influence actions. Self-Confidence is built through persistence.

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