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Confidence in Sport Masterclass

Ways to Improve Your Confidence in Sport

Many famous athletes have spoken about the importance of confidence in sports. Here are a few examples:

  • Michael Jordan: "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan, a six-time NBA champion and widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, emphasizes the importance of confidence in overcoming failure and achieving success.
  • Serena Williams: "With a defeat, when you lose, you get up, you make it better, you work harder, and you try again. That's what I do when I lose a match." - Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, emphasizes the importance of resilience and confidence in bouncing back from setbacks.
  • Muhammad Ali: "I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest." - Muhammad Ali, a three-time heavyweight boxing champion, emphasizes the power of self-belief and positive self-talk in achieving greatness.

Overall, confidence in sport is crucial for success. Confident athletes perform better and more consistently than athletes lacking in confidence. Confidence is our belief in our ability to do something well and confident people exert more effort even in the face of difficulties – so when the going gets tough – the confident performer gets going. Think of all the great sports performers and coaches you know who will have faced adversity but come through.

Image by martagalpe3 from Pixabay 

What is self-confidence?

Self-confidence is our belief in our ability to achieve a goal. In golf, you might feel self-confident in your ability to hole a four-foot putt but feel less confident in your ability to hit a draw off the tee with your driver. How do we come to make these judgements about our ability? To begin, we judge our capability to perform a skill and we also judge the likely outcome of that performance. You might stand on a tennis court waiting to return a serve. You might to return the serve because it is a strength of your game. Here, you are making two judgements: Can I return this serve? And after executing the shot, did the ball land as I intended? This outcome (i.e., where the ball landed) offers information to tell a story about your ability as a tennis player. If you could not return the serve you might tell the following story: “I just didn’t get my racket on it. That’s terrible attempt. What am I playing at? It’s a waste of time”. Or you might tell this story: “I didn’t return the serve. I feel I moved well to get in position. Perhaps I underestimated the windy conditions. It’s an excellent lesson to learn today”.

Each story is accurate in its own right; however, each story might carry its own consequences. When we feel self-confident, we are likely to work better and persist longer on the task. The first story suggests tennis is a waste of time because the tennis player could not perform a skill well on that occasion. The second story suggests that there are lessons to be learned and the tennis player can learn these lessons. The second story harbours possibilities for learning and change which offers encouragement to the tennis player. Telling the right story in the right way to oneself is critical in tennis and sport.

Where Does Confidence in Sport Come From?

One of the most interesting facts about confidence is that it is not concerned with the skills one possesses but with the judgements of what one can do with the skills one possesses. This point is critical in sport because you might have all the skills to perform in your sport at the highest level but you judge yourself and the skills you have, harshly. You judge the skills you have are not ‘good enough’ to succeed at the level you play your sport.  

Because we are concerned with our judgements, we need to realise that we are making sense of sources of confidence in our mind. These sources of confidence are (1) achievements from past performances - our performance accomplishments (2) modelling others who have succeeded, (3) gathering support from others and this can include verbal persuasion from significant others, or positive self talk (4) managing our emotional states and physiological arousal and (5) imagining success.

The association between self-confidence and performance occurs in both directions. What we mean here is that succeeding at a task fosters self-confidence beliefs and these self-confidence beliefs help performance by influencing thoughts, feelings and actions. But succeeding at tasks is most crucial which means we need to design our practice to experience incremental success along the way.

How to Build Self-Confidence

So confidence in sport is crucial for success. If you would like to spend some time investing in your self confidence in sport then the Confidence Masterclass is for you. While also outlining the basics of confidence a number of practical strategies are outlined that can help your mental preparation, feel more confident and achieve your potential with successful performance in your sport. 

Here at Sporting Bounce we have partnered with the Sport Psych Lab to bring you a series of courses and Masterclasses in sport psychology. The Confidence Masterclass has been developed to help you work on your self confidence in sport whether your are a player, coach or official. The course itself comprises professionally produced audio material which you can download to use anywhere so you can listen at your convenience. The audio material also comes with a helpful workbook with very helpful practical strategies and exercises to build your confidence in sport. The course has been developed to have easy to use ways to improve confidence in sport drawing on the latest research exploring confidence from a sport psychology perspective. So all the practical tips outlined are built on current research and approaches.