“I lost my confidence.”
“I’m losing my confidence.”
“He/She is not confident.”
These are a few statements you and I have heard many times from leading and talented athletes.
Is it possible to “lose” confidence all of sudden or over a short period of time?
It is my experience working with leading athletes, professionals and elite amateurs alike that athletes often choose to lower or lose their confidence. Confidence does not disappear. It’s just that athletes fail to take full responsibility for their confidence – they choose to shrink it.
What is confidence?
There are many definitions of this feeling – but a good one might go something like this … the ability to believe and trust in your abilities, decisions and opinions and express belief in challenging circumstances.
Two Kinds of Confidence
I break confidence down into two primary types. Proactive and Reactive.
Proactive confidence is a decision that a performer/athlete will be sustainably confident from all of the great, positive experiences they have had in sport, all of the work they have done, all of the advice from Coaches, support from parents and general success at a variety of levels – and these experiences, support system and successes are the foundation an athlete’s belief in him/herself. Proactive confidence is a choice that an athlete relies on a solid foundation and is sustainably confident. Confidence is not shaken by small periods of less than ideal performance.
Reactive confidence is a choice that one small collection of challenging circumstances/difficulties will overcome all of the successes and crack an athlete’s “foundation”. In this scenario, the athlete declares that confidence is lowered as a result of not achieving desired results. How many times have we heard or seen a professional athlete, after a stretch of poor games, poor matches etc. declare that they are playing with a low level or no confidence. Athletes also allow others to have an impact on their confidence in a negative way – coaches, parents and others. This becomes the athlete’s choice to lower their confidence and allow challenges and the impact of others to penetrate the foundation.
Athletes must be responsible for their own confidence. It can be built through hours of quality practice, through sourcing out great coaching, through positive support and guidance from others, through very clear and defined goal planning, through the ability to create a positive, supportive internal voice, through self-awareness, through focusing only on factors the athlete can control, process vs. outcome and other approaches to develop the foundation.
Confidence is built over time and the athlete must make the choice that it will not be shaken by periods of challenge and difficulty or by others trying to crack the foundation.
Confidence is a choice.