Updated: Jan 8, 2021
Self-confidence is defined as one’s belief in their powers, abilities, r capacities. Self-confidence refers to the strength of the belief and not the athlete/performer’s actual competence. This belief can waiver based on many factors. Confidence can make a performer feel unstoppable, but it can also be very fragile. Research shows that an athlete’s belief that they can complete a particular task or achieve a certain level of performance affects their actual performance. In other words, “if you believe you can do it, or you believe you can’t, you’re right.” Confidence is fostered in many ways and is essential to both performance and enjoyment.
Confidence can be built directly through experiences, or indirectly through mental and physical skills training. Confidence can fluctuate throughout a day, week, or season, and even throughout the course of each training session and competition. Athletes can learn to regulate that confidence by focusing on relevant cues, managing energy, and being mindful of the moment. These mental strategies give confidence through the belief in the ability to manage stressors and are related to the mental, not physical ability.
Athletes and performers can be responsible for their own levels of confidence by acquiring experience and developing mental skills to build and preserve confidence. Athletes can make mistakes, take the lead, fall behind, get injured, etc.–it is all part of the game. The dips and peaks can be controlled through mental skills training, which helps to cope with immediate stressors and build resilience for the long-term.
There are four main sources of confidence: perspiration, regulation, inspiration, and validation. Perspiration includes physical training and preparation and works through hours of practice, experience, and repetition. Regulation is comprised of mental strategies to self-regulate and maintain a particular mindset through productive responses to setbacks and successes. Inspiration primarily concerns social forces, as athletes look up to role models, watch their friends, teammates, and coaches closely, and rely on social support from friends and family to feel empowered. Lastly, validation comes through achievement and real-life experience, which can be a powerful source of confidence and stick well in our memories.
Confidence can be cultivated in many ways and learning how to manage it is essential for well-being and performance. Confidence, like any other skill, requires work. Athletes and performers must be intentional about the way they build themselves up to have optimal belief in themselves and maximize performance.
What do you do to improve your confidence? Let us know in the comments.