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Where is Your Confidence Coming From?

As an athlete a great idea to ponder is; where does confidence come from? What is confidence generated by? How is my confidence level? How do I improve it or keep it consistent?

Through out my studies and experiences I have learned that confidence is something that comes from a person’s perspective.  6a00d83451d48a69e200e54f2cb01f8833-800wiIt’s about the way you see yourself and the way you view the situation. It comes from the way you interpret the events in your life. One way to change your level of self-confidence is to change the way you view the situation or yourself. This may not always be an easy task, but it can be done!

The other day I was giving a pitching lesson and the mom was frustrated because her daughter wasn’t getting to pitch much. When she did get time on the mound it was always against the toughest teams, so her daughter wasn’t getting very many W’s. The mom was expressing to me that she wanted her daughter to get the chance to rack up some W’s in hopes to build her confidence on the mound.

So now let me ask you, are you in control of if you win a game or not? Sure you play a part. Just like the pitcher, the catcher, the outfield, the #2 batter, and the bench players play a part. But are YOU in control of winning the game? No. Not only is it impossible to win a team sport competition by yourself, but you also can’t control the other factors that affect the outcome of the game. For instance, you can’t control the umpires and what calls they make. You can’t control the talent of the opposing team, or how many errors they have.

If you rely on winning to build your self-confidence you are putting your confidence in the hands of something that is out of your control. You may get some confidence or you may not, you are relying on chance. You are relying on a dozen tiny things to line up in the exact right way in order to boost your confidence.images (1) Those odds don’t sound very good to me. It sounds like the slot machines in the casino; throwing money in and relying on pure chance for a reward. Wouldn’t you rather throw your money into something with a guaranteed reward? On the softball field you are putting all this effort into delivering your best performance, however if you focus on winning, you are relying on chance to get the reward of confidence from the effort you are putting in.

So how do you reap the rewards every time you step onto the field? By focusing on the things YOU CAN control. Like? Did I keep my head down on the ground ball that got hit to me? Did I swing at the best pitches in my at bat. As a pitcher was I hitting my spots? As a batter was I courageous?- Was I scared to go up to the plate in a crucial situation but I stood in the box and gave it my best attempt anyway? Was my first step back on every fly ball? Did I pick up every sign my coach delivered to me? Did I cheer for my teammates and stay positive throughout the game?

These are the things that should fill your emotional tank. These are the things that should boost your confidence. These are things that no one can take away from you. These are things that aren’t reliant on chance, you can reap the benefits from these things every game, and every practice. Let these things build your confidence.

Our best power pose from the Performance Psychology Conference weekend in San Diego

Our best power pose from the Performance Psychology Conference weekend in San Diego

Here is a great activity athletes can do to become aware of which things they can and cannot control.  They will also realize that trying to control the uncontrollable leads to increased stress and frustration, as well as decreased levels of performance.

Draw or layout two large  circles on the floor, one slightly over lapping the other. Ropes, tape, extension cords, or a simple line drawn in the dirt with your finger can be used to make the circles.  A coach will then read out factors that come into play during athletic competitions. The players have 5 seconds to choose and stand in one of the circles.  If they think the factor could be in both circles, they can stand in the area where the circles overlap.  After final positions are locked in place, a player from each circle should be asked to justify their choice.  This often generates discussion among the players. You can make this activity a fun competition by giving athletes points for giving the most persuasive explanation for their choice of circle.

Possible factors to use:  Intensity during practice, parent’s actions, umpires strike zone, weather, broken equipment, game line up, errors during a game, attitude, or score of the game.

circles

Quote of the day:

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable” – John Wooden 

Self Confidence

Just a little information I learned in class that I passed onto my players over the summer.

Self confidence is the belief that you can successfully perform a desired behavior. When you don’t have confidence, you are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. A self fulfilling prophecy is the phenomenon that happens when you expect something to happen, and it actually helps cause it to happen. If you have negative self-fulfilling prophecies, like expecting to swing and miss, you are creating psychological barriers that lead to a vicious cycle: the expectation of failure leads to actual failure, which lowers self-image and increases expectations of future failure.

Benefits of self confidence

Arouses positive emotions– when you are confident you are more likely to stay calm and relaxed under pressure, it allows you to be aggressive and assertive.

Facilitates concentrations– when confident your mind is free to focus on the task at hand, not distracted by self doubt, and worry that you aren’t playing your best.

Affects goals– confident people set challenging goals and pursue them actively.

Increases effort– when ability is equal, the winners of competitions are usually the athletes who believe in themselves and their abilities.

Games strategies– athletes who “play to win”, compared to athletes who play “not to lose”, take control of the competition to their advantage.

Psychological momentum– confident people view situations where momentum is against them as challenging and it motives them to work harder.

Affects performance– the confidence you have about your talents, affect how you showcase your talent on the field.

Although self confidence is important, there is a happy medium between over confident and under confident. We all know that players who are too confident tend to fail, and players who are under confident tend to doubt themselves, and also fail. The hard part is finding that perfect middle ground, “optimal confidence”. Optimal confidence means being so convinced that you can achieve goals that you will strive hard to accomplish them. It does not mean that you will always perform well, but it is essential to reaching your potential. A strong belief in yourself will help you deal with errors and mistakes effectively, and keep you striving toward success. Everyone’s optimal confidence levels are different.

Your expectations of others affect not only your own behaviors, but also the feelings and behaviors of others around you.  Look at it this way, for example; Kira is on a volleyball team, she spikes the ball despite a bad setup, the ball goes straight into the net. Her coach says, “Good try Kira, just try to get more elevation on your jump so you can contact the ball about the level of the net”. Janet on the other hand, spikes the ball on a bad setup and the ball goes straight into the net. The coach this time responds with, “don’t try and spike the spike the ball when you’re not in a good position. Janet you’ll never make a point like that.” See how this could affect a player? This goes the same for your team mates; you guys know that you can feel when someone doesn’t like you, or who thinks you aren’t very talented. Weather you think so or not, this affects how you play. So take notice and watch how you react to your teammates, and how you act towards them in general.

Never fear! Self-confidence can be built!

You can build confidence by:

Accomplishing a good performance- successful behavior increases confidence and leads to further successful behavior. (Beating an opponent or fully extending a knee in recovery) So, what if you haven’t been performing well? That’s why practice is so important, you can work on your skills and build confidence!  Create situations for yourself where you know you can succeed to build confidence.

Acting confidently– fake your confidence! Even if you aren’t feeling confident, pretend you are! Be an actress! Keep your head up after an error even if you want to throw your fist through a wall, just smile. It can actually affect the way you feel and play!!! It can also affect how your opponents play against you; it is harder to beat a confident team.

Thinking confidently- thoughts and self-talk should be instructional and motivational, not judgmental. While pitching, instead of saying don’t miss your spots, say keep this pitch off the plate. Instead of saying don’t swing and miss, say hit the middle of the ball. There should  be no “don’t” in your self-talk.

Using imagery– imagine yourself playing well! Use imagery create successful scenarios in your mind. Imagine yourself fielding a ground ball cleanly or hitting a line drive that falls into the gap.

Using goal mapping- a goal map is a personalized plan for an athlete that contains various types of goals and goal strategies as well as a systematic evaluation procedure to assess progress toward goals. Keep your goals performance and task oriented rather than outcome oriented; focus on hitting the middle of the ball rather than getting a hit every time you’re up to the plate.

Optimizing physical conditioning and training– staying in shape can help you feel more confident. That doesn’t mean killing yourself with tough workouts when you’re not playing, it means going for a little jog one once in a while, or lifting a few weights just so you can feel good about yourself.

Preparing– have a plan for the game. If you have a plan and are prepared you’re more likely to have success. Make sure, along with a plan, you have a backup plan if something doesn’t go as planned.

Fostering social climate– Be supportive of your team mates! Help to build their self-confidence too!

Quote of the day 

“Self-confidence is like a placebo, you can give people a sugar pill for extreme pain, tell them it’s morphine and it can produce as much relief as an actual pain killer. Give someone confidence in their skills, and they will perform better” -Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology

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