When athletes feel confident, they are more likely to have a superior performance. On the other hand, when unsure of themselves, a setback or small hurdle can adversely effect their performance.
What is self-confidence?
Self-confidence is commonly defined as the feeling that you are up to the task at hand. This sureness is characterised by a strong belief in your ability. You may know someone whose self-belief has this unshakeable quality, and a major setback does not slow them down. While confidence is a desirable characteristic, arrogance, a feeling not well founded in one's ability, is undesirable.
Where does self-confidence come from?
The confidence an individual feels is generally derived from one or more of the following:
1. Mastery Experiences are the strongest contributor to sport confidence. When you perform a skill successfully, you become more confident and are more willing to attempt something more difficult the next time. Skills should be learned as a sequence of tasks where progress is gradual and you master one task before proceeding to the next.
" I've nailed this shot many times before .. "
2. Vicarious experiences (what someone else has done) can also bolster your confidence.
" If they can do it, so can I ".
3. Verbal persuasion can be used to change attitudes and behaviour. The athlete can repeat a message to themself as a method of self persuasion.
" I will not quit! "
4. Mental Rehearsal have athletes create an image or movie of a successful performance in their mind. Using mental rehearsal, mastery of a particular task or set of circumstances is a far more likely outcome.
" What you see is what you get "
5. Physiological balance can reduce feelings of confidence. If you have muscular tension or butterflies, optimal performance will be inhibited. Keeping the body reactions on an even keel is necessary for helping performance and this can be achieved through various stress management techniques.
" OK, 5 deep breaths, and relax "
6. Emotional balance is the final source of self-confidence. This relates to how you control the emotions associated with competition. If an event is seen as important, the occasion may create self-doubt, which is why it is essential to control your thoughts and emotions. Learning mental imagery and concentration skills will help in this area.
" Stay calm, focus on swim stroke, even breathing, ready to go "
'Confidence is contagious .. .but so is a lack of confidence.'