Confidence is a crazy thing. When we need it the least we usually have it the most and the opposite is true as well.
Find out what you can do to have more of it and to control your confidence.
If you had an internal meter that would register your confidence on a daily basis, what would it say? Sure, that depends on what you’re doing. If you’re brushing your teeth it would probably read pretty high, but what about in the middle of a game with the bases loaded – what would it read then?
Most of us struggle with our confidence, no matter who we are. The thing about confidence is that it comes and it goes. Very few people have a solid level of confidence throughout the day no matter what they’re doing. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that the most insecure people on the planet are the world’s most elite athletes. Just because you can hit a softball really well doesn’t mean you always believe in yourself.
So having a certain lack of confidence is normal. Most people feel better about themselves at certain times than at others. For instance, I have a lot of confidence that I can help a pitcher, or any softball player improve her or his skill. So when I’m working with a player my confidence is high since I believe in my skills. That doesn’t mean that I’m arrogant or cocky, it just means I believe my skills will be there and help me when I need them.
But, I’m also going to avoid walking in front of the bleachers at a ball field since I don’t have a ton of personal confidence – even though the bleachers are at a softball field where I feel my most comfortable and confident. Weird, huh?! That’s the thing about confidence, it isn’t always logical
Confidence is simply your belief in yourself. You believe you can brush your teeth so confidence really isn’t an issue – that is unless you’re 3 and just learning how. Now, flash to the softball field, in the middle of an important game in a big situation. How’s your confidence now? I’ll bet if you were honest, it changed a bit from when you thought about brushing your teeth. You probably haven’t blown it brushing your teeth so that skill isn’t surrounded by bad memories, unlike the softball field. There are a lot of strong emotions that live at the ballfield – some good and some bad – and it’s those emotions that can play havoc with our confidence.
In fact, that’s why a lot of pitchers feel great and do great in the bullpen warming up, and then don’t pitch so good when they go into the game. There aren’t a lot of bad memories and emotions in the bullpen so your confidence is higher and you usually perform better.
Before we look at what we can do to improve and control our confidence, let’s look at the most recent Summer and Winter Olympics that were just held and see if confidence was an issue. When I watched the Olympics, no matter what sport, I saw lots of Olympians suffering from a lack of confidence. And these are some of the best athletes in their world in their sport!
I also saw a lot of the Olympic coaches telling their world class athletes that they could do it, to believe in themselves and everything would be ok. At the Olympics!! Doesn’t it seem like these athletes should already believe in themselves and shouldn’t need their coaches talking to them like they’re kids. And yet, I saw it all the time.
So everybody, at every level, has to deal with their confidence. If you feel that yours might be a little shaky just know that you aren’t the only one who feels this way.
But, what can you do about it? Fortunately, there is something you can do to help improve your confidence and improve the way you think during those stressful times when you need your confidence to be at its best.
Sports psychologists, in order to help their players deal with the nerves of a huge stage like the Olympic Games will tell their players to focus on one part of their skill instead of thinking about a million different things. And while this is great advice, let’s get even more specific and find out how to control our thoughts in an effort to control our confidence.
You confidence is highest when you believe you can do something. The smaller, or more specific you think about that thing you’re doing the less chance you have of thinking about all the things that could go wrong. In other words, you’re thinking about ACTIONS you should take instead of the CONSEQUENCES that might result. Action thoughts help you stay calm and focused which help you play better. All of this leads to better results which help lead to more confidence. But, if you spend your time thinking about what happens if you blow it, or what will your coaches say, or how are your parents going to react, then those are all thoughts about the consequences of failing – so that’s probably what you’ll do is fail. Failing doesn’t do much for our confidence.
So, if you want to start raising your confidence level during those big moments in life – or in a softball game – start thinking about the small parts of whatever you’re doing that you can take action on instead of worrying about the consequences of what can happen if you blow it.
Small, action thoughts help keep your mind focused on making those thoughts happen, and when they do, you play better. On the other hand, thinking about the consequences or results if you blow it takes your brain to an entirely different place. It starts pilling a lot of pressure on you, distracts your brain so it can’t help your body perform and gets you ready for failure – so it’s no surprise when you actually do fail.
Your brain is a very powerful thing so let it help you play better by staying focused on small thoughts about things you should do in order to succeed – like explode at my release, nothing above my hands, nail her at the plate…those are all action thoughts and keep your mind focused on succeeding.
On the other hand, consequence thoughts sound like this; don’t throw a ball, what does coach think about me, why’d he call that a ball. Those are all thoughts about the results of the play, or consequences instead of about the action you need to take.
Stay small and action-oriented with your thoughts and watch your confidence and performance improve!
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