Confidence in sports (and life) may be the single biggest difference maker when it comes to success. While it may seem like just a simple word, our level of self-confidence truly impacts everything we do. In fact, when we think of “fight or flight,” it is often our level of confidence and belief that prompts us to act (or not act) in the very moment we are directed to respond to challenge.
When athletes work to develop their self-confidence many great things happen, including:
- Better focus
- Greater motivation
- Stronger resiliency
- Shorter memory for past failures (perhaps the greatest benefit)
- Superior mental toughness
Sport psychology research has clearly shown for years now that self-efficacy, a term loosely based on self-confidence, has a direct and positive effect on human performance. What this means is that when people state before an event that they are confident in their abilities, they almost always perform better than if they had stated indifference, or no confidence at all.
There are countless tasks and challenges that we face every day, but it is in the moment of contemplation where we drill deep into our level of confidence, which in turn directs our thinking and behaviors toward what we do next. For athletes who play with confidence, focus quickly turns to what can be achieved and self-talk becomes positive and productive. Conversely, athletes without much confidence do the exact opposite — rather than pushing forward, they take a step back, experience fearful thinking, engage in self-doubt, and inevitably put forth a marginal effort followed by a poor result.
Developing confidence is something we can all do, as it is not limited to luck or superior genetics. Unfortunately, there is not a universal path to follow when it comes to confidence development, as much of confidence evolves over small successes we experience each day (sometimes just by chance). Still, when athletes set goals, surround themselves with good people and information, and aren’t afraid to objectively look at past failures to learn for future human growth, often confidence develops quite rapidly.
2015 is just around the corner making this a great time to develop new goals for the future, with one possibly being to improve self-confidence. If you do nothing more than set specific, measurable, controllable goals that you commit to and track, you’ll be well on your way. Here’s to a happy and successful new year!
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