Last night we were discussing how confidence can help an athlete or hurt an athlete and coincidentally I found this quote on Facebook this morning. It goes like this:
“In my mind, I’m always the best. If I walk out on the field and I think the next person is better, I’ve already lost.”
Now, this is a great quote and says a lot for the mindset needed from upper level players. When a “AAA”, high level or MLB player walks onto the field thinking someone is better than them, that attitude will definitely cause their performance to suffer. Keep in mind the key part of that sentence is “AAA, high level or MLB”. These players have the skill set to know that, for the most part, they are among the best in the game and when they think that “I am the best”, there is a good possibility that it’s true.
The problem is that youth coaches try to teach or expect 8, 10, 12 year old players to have this confidence in the same way as professional level players do; by walking on to the field and believing that you are the best. Then coach wonders why Johnny is struggling to exude the confidence that coach wants him to. “Just get out there and believe in yourself!”
Here is why it does not work with the majority of YOUTH players. Confidence is built on success, the more success you have, the more confidence you will grow. If you are struggling, there will be a decline in your level of confidence so it is fair to assume you need some success and ongoing successes to build up confidence. The more successes you have over time, the easier it is to become confident. I teach confidence as an equation:
CONFIDENCE = I CAN’S – I CANT’S
When there are way more reasons why you can accomplish something as to why you can’t, then you are overflowing with confidence. You can still walk onto the field thinking that I am the best out here and, even though it may not be the case, there are hardly enough reasons, I CANT”S, to reduce your confidence.
Now here is an interesting thing when it comes to the workings of the brain. There is a place within the mind that houses our values, memories and our beliefs. This subconscious or unconscious part plays an extremely important role in the development of confidence. When you have a conscious thought, such as walking onto the field telling yourself “I am the best player here” the unconscious part of your mind runs that statement through your values, memories, beliefs. When it finds that you KNOW that statement isn’t true, what do you think your brain is going to tell you?
That’s right, it will tell you that you are NOT the best player here. Now you have a conflict.
When building confidence in youth players, the technique of lying to yourself to convince yourself that you are the best player when you know you are not will NEVER work. It will always create an internal conflict between what you want to believe and what you know is true. Instead, for players that are not in that top percentage, try building confidence this way. Remove comparisons to others all together from the picture. These comparisons are what builds the I CANT’s Have the athlete focus solely on themselves, their skills, their talents and abilities, The only thing to concentrate on is the successes they have, their improvements and what they accomplish to build up their I CAN”S. Remember the equation above, the math doesn’t lie.
There is an evil byproduct of confidence out there called cockiness. I believe that internal conflict is also the basis behind where where cockiness comes from. It is developed when you know you are a really good player, but you also know that you are not the best, that you lack something that others have. This creates an internal conflict between wanting to be the best player and the risk of bruising the ego by not being the best. Now this conflict causes an overcompensation in confidence and other actions like anger, throwing the bat, arguing with umpires or coaches, taunting other players. The player tries to make up for or compensate for that perceived deficiency that the athlete feels exists to save their ego. This is why most athletes who are truly the best in their sport exude confidence, and those who know that they are good but not quite the best that they want to be, can exude cockiness. BE A CONFIDENT PLAYER, NOT A COCKY ONE.
There are many techniques that I use to accomplish confidence building and they are very individualized to each player no matter what level of play they are at. These techniques work to build confidence in all aspects of life, not just in sports. If you or your athlete are struggling with confidence or need to get cockiness or anger under control, CALL ME or CLICK below for your free mental toughness evaluation: