From a young age, I had always remembered my teachers telling me “use the self-confidence in sport, not just in your class attitude”.
It makes me laugh when I think of that now, because they were saying it ironically when I was causing trouble in class, but it came to be 100% true when I was practicing with several sports. I had noticed that some of my coaches, especially the ones who were good on sports psychology, were actually saying the same thing when they wanted me to perform well at a race, a game or in an important competition.
The point of mentioning my example is that, having self-confidence could sometimes cause you trouble, but can definitely help you in your sports career when you know how and when to use it. On the other hand, having no self-confidence will make things more difficult in both sports and your life.
Within this post, I want you to understand why self-confidence is important, how to build it in case you are in lack of it and how to use it correctly in order to assist your career.
Why Do Athletes Need Self Confidence?
Do they? Yes they all do. You often see athletes on TV performing at the highest level in any sport and you think they were born for it. But guess what! They were not! Some of them might, yes, but the majority of them have learned to master their performance, after they had received the proper mental training from their coaches or personal sports psychologists or even improving their knowledge by themselves.
It starts from your self-confidence
Just to be clear with the sports term, in simple words it means that you have to truly believe in your skills and abilities. Which is far the most important aspect to get you going not only in sports but in life as well. You need to have faith in YOU in order to get along with everyday training, to become better and better, to believe in your abilities, to believe in winning and eventually to perform at your maximum in any competition.
If you ask any sports psychologist, they will tell you that if you truly believe in your self, you can achieve anything. That is quite a true statement! I am sure you are now thinking that you also need a lot of other things to achieve anything, but the point is that “everything starts from something”. And that is your self-confidence!
Now, forget sports for a moment and think of this simple example. Imagine that you are standing on a cliff and your only way to get across is to jump to the next cliff. The next cliff is a realistic jump away and not an impossible one. Would you dare take the jump? Or would you prefer find another way around, which eventually would be time-consuming and more tiring?
I will give you another example, a sport related one. Imagine that you are a soccer player and your team is participating at the final of the cup. The game is watched by 50.000 fans at the stadium and is also live on TV. The game goes to penalties and the last penalty which could be the winning one, should be taken by you. All eyes on you! Would you be confident enough to take the shoot and score?
So, why do you need to have self-confidence and believe in yourself? The answer is simple! Because you will be able to perform at the right place at the right time. Better self-confidence means better results at both individual and team sports.
How Do You Build Self Confidence?
That’s easy.. You just find a sport psychologist! I am obviously joking. You could of course find one to assist you on building it, but again they will be putting you through some mind steps you must perform by yourself. You cannot just push a button in your brain and you are done. Training your mind to anything, requires a lot of focus, hard work, experience and correct thinking.
Everything begins at a young age
You should know that many times it starts at a young age and specifically from your parents or siblings. I am sure that many of you must be now wondering. Have my parents or siblings assisted me with it? Well, they probably have. Just think it through and you will find surprising answers. Did your parents push you to train more? Did your siblings challenge you in sports? Did someone’s wish to see you grow up as an athlete (usually the grandparents), made you believed in yourself and that you can do it? Some times it is through experiences (both good and bad) from a young age that someone gains confidence. When you think about it, you can build your confidence from them.
One example that I really admire, concerns the legend Michael Jordan. He had gained/build self-confidence at the moment he managed to win a one vs one basketball game against his older brother. He then realized that he can do it again and again and again. Plus his father was always pushing him to be more competitive all the time and that lead him to more training and more training and more training. Those two aspects of his childhood age, gave him so much self-confidence in a way that he could win any game by himself (most of the times) against any opponent.
So, for parents that might be reading this post..help your children build their self-confidence because the soonest they get into it, the stronger they will become in life and eventually in a possible sports career. Don’t over do it thought, as this could bring the opposite results.
Training, training, training
Sounds simple yes? It should be, but unfortunately most people are like..”You know what, I know I am better at this skill, so I will just focus on it”. And I say.. “No, that is totally wrong”.
Let’s say that you are a basketball player and you cannot easily score from the three-point line. What do you do? Just train more and more and more from the three-point line. Now, lets say you are a right footed soccer player and you don’t feel confident enough when you use your left foot. So what? Just train more and more with your left foot (example, take a soccer ball and shoot it on a wall at the backyard of your house, only with your left foot). Or you are a track runner and you are not fast enough. That is fine. You can just work harder on your resistance training (click here) in order to improve your speed.
Those were just three examples with common sense solutions. I am sure you understand my point. Here is a task for you below:
Think of the skills that you must have when performing your sport. Now, out of those skills, pick the ones you don’t feel comfortable with. Write them down on a to-do-list and start working your bud off on them. Then, each time you feel that you have improved one of those skills, go to your list and put a tick on it. I promise you, it will feel really good after that!
Every athlete has specific qualities and no one is perfect. That is why you should start train even more on your less competitive skills. When you fix your disadvantages, you will feel amazing. Thus, it will lead you to another way of building your self-confidence. It feels really nice when you manage to do something that you could not do in the past. And it goes without saying, that you should keep training on your advantages as well. Don’t forget about that.
Focus on what you can control
What can you really control? Obviously yourself is the No.1 task to control.
Many athletes get out there and freeze when they have to perform in front of thousands of people or against teams and individuals that are considered bigger than them.
You don’t have to do that. Your most important focus should be to perform the way you know you can and then deliver a great performance no matter the result or how a competition will end up. Don’t overthink it. Just focus on what you do better. It is you who will control the soccer ball, the tennis racket, the golf ball, the basketball ball, your legs or your hands and your body. No one can do that for you. Not the fans, not your coaches, not your parents and not your friends. So keep that very well in your mind. When you know what you can control then you build self-confidence and achieve better results.
Think of those people who believe in you
I am sure that you all have people who believe in you. Either it’s your parents, siblings, friends, agent, girlfriend, wife or your children. Think of them and build your confidence. Don’t think of how they would expect you to perform. Think of why they believe in you. Is it because you are a nice person? Or because you are skillful in your sport? Or because you are talented? Or because you are fast? It doesn’t matter what it is, because for sure it will be positive.
If you start thinking of the ones who believe in you, there will only be positive words going through your mind and this will be another great way to build your self-confidence.
The Importance Of Using Your Self Confidence Correct
As I have mentioned earlier, most athletes have build their self-confidence through several ways whilst some others were born with it. Either way, no matter the type of athlete you belong, you should be careful with self-confidence and keep it to a professional level no matter the circumstances. What do I mean by that? Too high or too low could lead to some strange or bad situations. Especially if you are a well-known athlete, this can backfire on your prestige.
You need to understand what you can and what you cannot do. What you say and what you cannot say. Knowing were you stand and were you want to go will lead you to avoid mistakes. High or low self-confidence can lead to mistakes either in words coming out of your mouth towards people and media or during play in your sport. That can affect your prestige and reputation.
I have seeing athletes performing really poor live on TV and in-front of thousands of fans, because their high self-confidence pushed them to do mistakes (wrong passes, wrong marking, wrong decisions, aggressiveness) and eventually poor individual performance. In general, that will lead to bad results.
Or other cases of athletes openly underestimating other athletes or teams (in social media or interviews) and that backfired during a game or a fight or a race. Again that created a bad result. Trust me, you don’t want to be that guy sitting in the locker room with your teammates after losing the game (in a team sport)!
Always keep in mind that athletes which are in lack of self-confidence, are taking examples from athletes who have succeed in a professional level due to their confidence. So, make sure you are a good role model for others. It will give you even more confidence and pleasure to have people admiring your confidence skill. After all, the self-confidence in sport is considered a top mental skill!
There are many examples of athletes who’s self-confidence have help their career boost, but at the same time, it failed for others due to several reasons. Be always careful on how you use your confidence and make sure you will avoid mistakes (I have mentioned some typical mistakes above). Self confidence is many times received as a charisma, so use it wisely.
Different backgrounds, how you were raised in your family, how motivated you feel with your abilities and how you control your mind, will play a key role on your career.
At the end of the day, your self-confidence needs to be under your control. You can’t really control what other people say or do but you can definitely control your thinking, your way of practicing and finally the way you perform.
In order to answer the main title question, I will say that yes, self-confidence can definitely boost your career, as long as you take it seriously and know were and when to use it.
P.S. Feel free to share this post and leave a comment below with any questions or ideas or even your own experiences. I would be happy to hear from you.