So how does an athlete build confidence? In short, there are a variety of ways this can happen. It remains a myth that a person is simply born with or without confidence. The attribution of confidence is an ongoing process which may be developed by including specific practices into a daily or weekly routine. The first confidence builder we will discuss is the foundation of all the others. It is preparation. A solid preparation can have an abundance of positive effects on performance and thus on confidence. When an athlete successfully prepares for the upcoming season his/her physical and psychological well being is at a high level. This eliminates negative feelings of self doubt and uncertainness which are related to low confidence. Subsequently this leads to elevated performance levels which in turn raises self efficacy.
Closely related to the success of the preparation is another important tool which is effective goal setting. Success builds confidence and achieving set goals can instill the feeling of success in athletes. Setting goals is a process which must be done carefully. If the goals are easy to achieve, the sense of fulfillment will be lost. However if the goals are so difficult that the athlete struggles to achieve them, it could have an adverse effect on confidence. Goals should be both attainable and challenging if the desired effect on confidence is too be achieved.
Building confidence can also be achieved through affirming one’s ability through positive self talk. The athlete should be encouraged to use statements of affirmation throughout the season. These statements re-affirm things he/she does well or specific goals he/she will achieve. Anything from, “my speed has improved greatly” to, “I will block more shots” can be used. It is extremely important that the athlete believes the statements he/she is saying. Any self doubt can neutralize the positive self talk and have a negative effect on confidence.
The final confidence building tool we will discuss is imagery/ visualization. As previously discussed, visualization is an extremely beneficial practice for athletes. By visualizing successful performance on a daily bases the athlete will become more accustom to the feeling and experience. As it psychologically becomes a habit for the athlete to succeed, his/her confidence will elevate as a result.
The underlying theme related to each component of confidence is consistency and belief. The athlete needs to surround himself with positive people, thoughts and feelings on a daily bases. He/she needs to constantly focus on strengths and successes that he/she is having or will have in the future. This consistent outlook will have a positive effect on many aspects of his/her life and therefore instill the high sense of well being and confidence needed to succeed
Written by Nick Newman, MS, NSCA-CSCS
Athlete Performance Coach, Champion’s QUEST Athlete Academy