Source of the article: Ami nélkül Szoboszlai Dominiknak sem menne: önbizalom a sportban – nb1.hu
“Confidence does not grow on trees like apples. It is the result of conscious effort"..
This quote comes from one of my dear to my heart teachers. And she was right. Indeed, it's not an inborn gift, an athlete needs to work on his self-confidence every day.
The three internal factors of self-confidence
Self-confidence has many internal factors to consider. Yet there are three essential aspects that are fundamental. These include confidence in physical ability and fitness, so "conscious training has its results". It has a special role when the player is out of shape and needs to be aware of what he is capable of physically and the training work he has put in will always pay off in the long run.
On the other hand, it also includes confidence in cognitive efficiency: "I can achieve my target, I can do it.". The"Big target" set small goals to achieve, so that the results achieved in the individual stages will boost the player's confidence and provide motivation for further tasks.
Thirdly, the belief in coping with difficulties is also an important factor, according to which "learning from difficulties becomes strengths". Years of endurance and effort in sport, including regular training and coping with difficulties, reinforce the feeling that "I can cope with the challenges ahead". Constructive criticism and learning from mistakes promotes personal development and optimal self-confidence.
The athlete needs to recognise and accept his or her strengths and values. If he sees his mistakes as an opportunity for improvement during the more difficult periods, he will also focus on his positive self-esteem. But the question may arise: what is the difference between self-confidence and self-esteem? What is the relationship between the two concepts?
The relationship between self-confidence and self-esteem
It is necessary to differentiate between self-esteem and self-confidence, although the two concepts are related. Self-esteem is a more stable factor, including our strengths, areas to improve, human values, while self-confidence is more situational. So, like performance, self-confidence depends on the situation, fluctuating as a natural phenomenon.
Let's see an example. A player is full of confidence under the leadership of his current coach and performs excellently. Over time, however, the team's performance decreases and the coach is fired from the club. With the new coach, the athlete has less sympathy, receives less positive feedback, becomes uncertain of his/her own abilities, and his/her performance decreases compared to before. If he has a positive self-assessment, he can accept that the situation makes him play worse than he does and that he is actually more qualified. I would add that in many cases, this requires the involvement of a sports psychologist.
If his or her self-esteem is low, he or she will discount his or her own knowledge instead of consciously analysing the situation, and his or her self-confidence will be reduced. Think about it, what you have been able to do for a long time, you already have the ability to do, so you can do it again and again!
External components of self-confidence
In addition to internal factors, a number of external environmental conditions can also be considered as relevant.
This includes a realistic level of competition, or even the right sporting equipment, as well as the team's performance and its future perspective. For example, in a team where the athletes have ambitious plans but their skills are not in balance, the team's performance is probably going to be a disappointment and this will have a negative impact on the team members' self-confidence.
However, in my work, I experience that a supportive environment is the best way for a player to cope with challenges and keep his confidence stable on and off the pitch. Positive feedback and support from family, coaches, teammates and other communities play an essential role in keeping self-confidence at optimal levels. Emotional support, honest interest and well-timed positive feedback from those close to you is worth its weight in gold!
The presence of communities outside sport is also interesting. During my career I have had teammates who played guitar in a band, others who went on organised forest tours, and players can be part of a community while studying at university. From this perspective "has several legs" the athlete and emotional support comes from several directions, which speeds up the process of optimising self-confidence during difficult times.
The confidence of the team
In parallel to the athlete's individual self-confidence, we can also talk about team self-confidence. This is the belief of all the members of a group in the team's ability to perform successfully and achieve common goals. This type of self-confidence plays an important role in the quality and effectiveness of teamwork. Usually, teams with stable self-confidence are backed up by supportive coaches, supporters and management, dealing with successes as well as failures at team level.
Each player has a defined role and responsibility for the success of the team by default. When an athlete successfully completes the responsibilities assigned to him/her on the interests of the team, his/her self-confidence increases, which has a positive effect on "emotional infection" the confidence of the team. However, this requires clear obligations and expectations from the coaching side and from the club's management in terms of role efficiency.
It is often the case that the team is productive and efficient, with members performing at a high level. However, realistic self-assessment and optimal self-confidence are also essential aspects of managing success. When team members believe that even "beans are meat" and efforts are enough, they do less and less to achieve the current target. This can lead to unpleasant surprises in individual and team sporting performance.
The team's self-confidence is also positively related to its cohesion. This is facilitated by the type of coaching attitude that does not primarily encourage better performance through criticism and competition between team members, but motivates players by focusing on the measurable improvement of the team and individual in relation to themselves and by encouraging each other.
As legendary basketball coach John Wooden said earlier: "Do not let what you cannot do impact what you can achieve". Developing a positive self-esteem and keeping self-confidence at an optimal level is a life long process, and the athlete needs to work on it both mentally and physically. Sport psychologists can support athletes in choosing and applying suitable strategies and techniques to maximise their sporting performance.
I often hear it said that competitive sport is not healthy. I prefer to look at this from the point of view of what competitive sport can bring in a positive way. The values of commitment, dedication, endurance, focus and personal development that are built up over the years can be used not only on the field of play but also in other areas of life at the end of a career. In this way, years spent in competitive sport can also provide positive self-esteem and optimal self-confidence in civil life.
The authors of the article are Levente Szántai and Attila Szikora