Everyone talks a lot about being confident. Parents tell their kids, coaches tell their athletes ‘be confident…you can do it”. Confidence is more than a mantra. Confidence is a skill that can be developed. As a matter of fact, it is the most important skill anyone can have. It is what differentiates a high performing athlete from the average athlete. To be a high performing athlete – to be at the top of your came, you need confidence to
1. Handle pressure:
2. Stay motivated and focused on your goals
3. Stay consistent and relevant for a long time
4. Get rid of fear, anxiety, and nervousness
5. Endure necessary extensive training
6. Learn from mistakes and overcome defeat
Lack of confidence paralyzes the athlete’s performance. You find that the athlete is afraid to take necessary risks, the athlete lacks belief in his abilities and doesn’t go all out to give his best during the game. All gaming skills are offshoot of the mental skill that is confidence. Many times the player is not unskilled, he is just not confident enough in his skill so he under performs. Unfortunately, coaches and athletes spend less time developing the mental ability of the athlete than they should.
An example of a top athlete who became great because he was mentally fit and confident enough is Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan who is arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time is a four-time gold medalist with USA Basketball, including winning two Olympic golds and was twice named the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year. For more than a decade, he was the face of the NBA and most recently was awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom. He had a mindset that saw him through his basketball career and into a baseball. He was confident.
Here are some of his comments:
“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept trying.”
“I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.”
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”
“If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
What can we learn from Michael Jordan?
It is simple. If you want to improve your performance, your priority should be improving your confidence. Don’t hold back because you failed/lost once or twice or as many times as you can remember. Be ready to not just accept your losses but also expect them and learn from them, having at the back of your mind that you can and will get better.
How Can You Improve Your Confidence?
1. Master your strengths and improve your weaknesses: When you put energy, time and thought into the things you do well, your confidence grows and soon you find yourself taking risks and trying to get better at the things you struggle with.
2. Set attainable goals for yourself: set short-term goals for yourself. Focus on accomplishing all of them. You will find that as you accomplish each goal, you feel much more confident to take on bigger tasks.
3. Practice like your life depends on it: Practice as often as you can. You know the old saying “practice makes perfect”. Put in more effort in practice and do more reps than you have been doing. Meaningful and successful repetitions will improve your confidence and you will be able to demonstrate that awesomeness in the field/court.
4. Only strive to do better than yourself: Do not compare yourself with anyone. Don’t measure your success based on the success of others. Focus on your skills and try to get better with every practice and every game. Comparing yourself with others is a sure way to kill your confidence. Desist from it.