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Building Confidence

Happy New Year to everyone reading my newsletter. Please feel free to share it with others who coach or participate in any form of competition. I also want to announce that you can now follow me on Twitter at: @DrjSportPsych.

 

As we begin the new year, I have been reflecting on the numerous clients I have been working with over the past several years. One of the common themes that seems to be more and more prevalent with both amateur and professional athletes revolves around the issue of self-confidence. It doesn’t matter what age, what sex or what sport an athlete plays, self-confidence almost always seems to be a topic that comes up. Usually, it is at the core of the issue that we end up discussing. And, what I am beginning to see is that this topic is unfortunately becoming an issue for younger athletes. I have spoken with several athletes who are having issues with confidence at age 10. As I watch interviews with professional and collegiate athletes at the end of competitions, there almost always is a reference to confidence, positively or negatively. If they  won, their confidence was a positive influence and if they lost they didn’t have enough confidence to help them win.

 

So why is confidence so important? I have asked the question before and like to focus the discussion on the following question: Do you have to be confident to be successful or do you have to be successful to be confident? Obviously, confidence and success play off on each other. But, I believe in the end, most importantly, you need to be confident to be successful. Why? In my opinion, if you base your confidence on success, then if you fail does that mean you are not confident? I don’t believe so. You can fail and still be confident. If you base your confidence on whether you succeed or fail, then you will be on an emotional yo-yo. Confidence, which essentially means believing in yourself, is the foundation of the psychological attributes we have that effect what we do not just in sports but in life. If you are confident, and feel good about yourself, it should not matter if you succeed or fail, you should still feel good about who you are. Yes, you will probably be bummed about losing, but that shouldn’t pull your confidence down so far that you view yourself as a failure. Unfortunately, I am seeing this happen more frequently with the athletes and teams I consult with.

 

One of the main factors that I see contributing to this is how we are taught to deal with success and failure. It shouldn’t matter if it is in sports, in school, in the arts or in a relationship. But, what I have begun to see more of over the past several years is that young people are not being taught how to deal with failure and success in a manner that helps them grow. I believe parents, coaches, teachers and mentors should make it a priority to put more of an emphasis on the process of learning rather than on the results. Most of the athletes that I have spent time with who are successful, almost always seem to have a solid level of self-confidence. They don’t feel badly about themselves if they fail, they want to figure out why they failed and what they can do to prevent it from happening again. Usually, they will tell me about at a younger age, they weren’t criticized when they failed, they were coached and encouraged to learn from their mistake and figure out why they failed. On the other hand, the athletes who have confidence issues typically tell me that at a younger age they were criticized, cut down, yelled at or insulted by coaches or teachers when they failed. A 10 year old baseball player I have been working with  was yelled at by his coach after striking out and told because of that strike out, the team lost. My advice to his parents was that they needed to immediately set up a meeting with the coach and discuss their concerns with him. I advised them that if he didn’t change his communication, they should quit the team, as this type of coaching would be more detrimental to their son than if they stuck out the season. I usually don’t advise quitting a team during the season, but when a coach is being that negative, the long term effects can become serious issues over time.

 

The learning process, especially is sports, should be a process that emphasizes growing and realizing that failure, as well as success, are part of the process. Teaching kids how to lose, how to fail as well as how to win and how to succeed, should be essential components. I have found that when the emphasis is placed more on this process, rather than on the result of the competition or exam, than you will have a greater chance for success and in the end you will find that that individual will more than likely be much more confident as they grow and develop.

As always, your thoughts…

Happy New Year to everyone reading my newsletter. Please feel free to share it with others who coach or participate in any form of competition. I also want to announce that you can now follow me on Twitter at: @DrjSportPsych.

 

As we begin the new year, I have been reflecting on the numerous clients I have been working with over the past several years. One of the common themes that seems to be more and more prevalent with both amateur and professional athletes revolves around the issue of self-confidence. It doesn’t matter what age, what sex or what sport an athlete plays, self-confidence almost always seems to be a topic that comes up. Usually, it is at the core of the issue that we end up discussing. And, what I am beginning to see is that this topic is unfortunately becoming an issue for younger athletes. I have spoken with several athletes who are having issues with confidence at age 10. As I watch interviews with professional and collegiate athletes at the end of competitions, there almost always is a reference to confidence, positively or negatively. If they  won, their confidence was a positive influence and if they lost they didn’t have enough confidence to help them win.

 

So why is confidence so important? I have asked the question before and like to focus the discussion on the following question: Do you have to be confident to be successful or do you have to be successful to be confident? Obviously, confidence and success play off on each other. But, I believe in the end, most importantly, you need to be confident to be successful. Why? In my opinion, if you base your confidence on success, then if you fail does that mean you are not confident? I don’t believe so. You can fail and still be confident. If you base your confidence on whether you succeed or fail, then you will be on an emotional yo-yo. Confidence, which essentially means believing in yourself, is the foundation of the psychological attributes we have that effect what we do not just in sports but in life. If you are confident, and feel good about yourself, it should not matter if you succeed or fail, you should still feel good about who you are. Yes, you will probably be bummed about losing, but that shouldn’t pull your confidence down so far that you view yourself as a failure. Unfortunately, I am seeing this happen more frequently with the athletes and teams I consult with.

 

One of the main factors that I see contributing to this is how we are taught to deal with success and failure. It shouldn’t matter if it is in sports, in school, in the arts or in a relationship. But, what I have begun to see more of over the past several years is that young people are not being taught how to deal with failure and success in a manner that helps them grow. I believe parents, coaches, teachers and mentors should make it a priority to put more of an emphasis on the process of learning rather than on the results. Most of the athletes that I have spent time with who are successful, almost always seem to have a solid level of self-confidence. They don’t feel badly about themselves if they fail, they want to figure out why they failed and what they can do to prevent it from happening again. Usually, they will tell me about at a younger age, they weren’t criticized when they failed, they were coached and encouraged to learn from their mistake and figure out why they failed. On the other hand, the athletes who have confidence issues typically tell me that at a younger age they were criticized, cut down, yelled at or insulted by coaches or teachers when they failed. A 10 year old baseball player I have been working with  was yelled at by his coach after striking out and told because of that strike out, the team lost. My advice to his parents was that they needed to immediately set up a meeting with the coach and discuss their concerns with him. I advised them that if he didn’t change his communication, they should quit the team, as this type of coaching would be more detrimental to their son than if they stuck out the season. I usually don’t advise quitting a team during the season, but when a coach is being that negative, the long term effects can become serious issues over time.

 

The learning process, especially is sports, should be a process that emphasizes growing and realizing that failure, as well as success, are part of the process. Teaching kids how to lose, how to fail as well as how to win and how to succeed, should be essential components. I have found that when the emphasis is placed more on this process, rather than on the result of the competition or exam, than you will have a greater chance for success and in the end you will find that that individual will more than likely be much more confident as they grow and develop.

As always, your thoughts…

One thought on "Building Confidence"

Danny Hendricks says:

Always enjoy your thoughts on starting young people playing sports.Parents think that their child is a ALL STAR! I feel the parents get embarrassed when their child makes a mistake on field or on the court. I coached my daughter in softball for 6 yrs. I tried to be fair on playing time and for them to get better as a player . I hope the players and parents had a great time ! I made some great friends along the way. Friends forever! Memories a nd friendships what I cherished . Enjoy the journey it goes fast! I was lucky my daughter got a scholarship to play college ball. I think it made up grow more as a person! I think coaches need to umpire or ref. & officals need to coach. The person can see both sides of the game and appreciate each other I know that I do. The one question that I have when I was coaching ! Was it wrong to ask parents & players which way u want to play? Play to win or play everyone and have a good time. Keep up the great work that u do ! All I can say. PS not a yeller or screamer!!!

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