The Confidence Cycle in Sports

For most younger athletes their game day success, particularly during the most pivotal moments of the game, all comes down to their belief in their ability to succeed or fail. In other words do they have adequate self-confidence on the field or court or not?

As I prepare in the coming weeks to launch what I believe will be a groundbreaking online mental performance course for athletes, parents and coaches, The Game Day Domination Course, my research on the subject of self-confidence for younger athletes (along with my own experiences as a game coach, mental performance expert and former collegiate athlete) has convinced me that self-confidence is not an accident. In fact I have concluded that self-confidence for any athlete is the product of a clearly defined "cause and effect" cycle that is quite predictable. Moreover this confidence cycle is a clear predictor of game day performance as well.

For your athlete to achieve and maintain a high level of self-confidence, and thus a high level of game day performance they will need to be mindful of their own "confidence cycle."

So what is the "confidence cycle" that ultimately propels or sabotages game day performance?

It all starts with how your athlete processes his or her performance. In other words what are the thoughts swirling around in their head before, during and after his or her games?

If those thoughts are expansive, positive, and "can do" they have laid a great foundation for their confidence cycle and game day success.

However, if their mental reaction to their game day performance is highly critical, negative, limiting and "can't do" he or she has created a rocky foundation for their confidence cycle and game day performance.

Below is a flow chart illustrating the cycle between the most important components that make up self-confidence:

The Confidence Cycle

 The cause and effect relationship between the components in the "confidence cycle" can be explained like this:

1. Your athlete holds certain beliefs about themselves and their game. These beliefs in themselves can be expansive or limiting (for example, they may believe they are competent in certain aspects of their game, but not others).

2. How your athlete reacts, via their thoughts, to a game event (in part based on their beliefs) will trigger specific thoughts (positive or negative; motivating or deflating; "can do" or "can't do") that will have an enormous impact on their emotional state.

3. Your athlete's emotional state will either allow him or her body to be relaxed or anxious; able to laser focus on the task at hand (play) or be unable to focus.

4. Your athlete's emotional state, triggered by their thoughts, will dictate in any given moment the level of self-confidence he or she will experience.

5. This confidence level will dictate their game day performance, particularly in the most pivotal moments of the game.

To summarize the "confidence cycle," when your athlete believes they can succeed in the execution of a future game event they likely will. Strong beliefs in future success come from: 

1. Previous game day successes.

2. A belief that the athlete has adequately trained or prepared themselves physically for game day success.

3. A supportive environment (coaches, parents, teammates).

4. Use of proper mental performance training to use mental imagery and other mental cues to prepare themselves mentally for game day success. 

An athlete who consistently dominates on game day is an athlete with:

1. Strong beliefs and expectancy for their game day success.

2. Positive, "can do" thoughts that sees every game as an exciting challenge.

3. A clearly defined "pre-game" and "in-game" plan or strategy to heighten both relaxation and mental focus that will allow them to optimally approach each game day situation proactively and by design.

4. Rock solid self-confidence is built from beliefs, thoughts and feelings of success, as well as a calm, relaxed and focused mind and body.

So be aware of the "confidence cycle" with your athlete and whether his or her "confidence cycle" is setting them up for game day success or failure.

Remember game day success is not an accident; it is cultivated and maintained by design and by choice. Supreme confidence is the key to sustained peak performance on game day.

Game day domination requires that your athlete be ultra prepared both physically and mentally. One without the other will never yield consistent game day performances. Find out how to improve your athlete's game day performance here.

Be sure to subscribe to Softball Smarts Tips here, where you'll receive weekly insights, strategies and tips on how to take your athlete's mental game to the next level.

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