That secret ingredient that all great athletes seem to possess, regardless of what level they compete at. Can you “grow it?” If so, how? Are there specific things that parents, coaches and teammates do that can kill it? Self-confidence is that intangible factor, a “cousin” to PMA, positive mental attitude that keeps an athlete working hard regardless of how many times he/she may fail or how many obstacles get thrown in his/her path. Self-confidence can give an average athlete or team the courage and focus to defeat a stronger opponent.

Self-confidence can motivate you to attempt and accomplish the impossible. Likewise, lacking self-confidence, an athlete or team will consistently perform way below their potential.

Lichfield City Academy Pre Season

“What you can do to grow self-confidence”

Some days you just feel great about yourself and boy does it ever show in your performance! When you have confidence in yourself you feel like you can do just about anything, that the sky’s the limit. During these wonderful moments you don’t fear any opponent and perform aggressively. It’s like the fear of losing is completely non-existent when you’re confident.
Then there are those days when you feel completely overwhelmed, our play doesn’t have its normal zip or energy. You’re a half a step behind everyone else and you’re timing is off. You’re easily intimidated and you just don’t feel as strong or powerful. You’re quick to be distracted by worries.

So what can you do to start building a solid foundation of self-confidence as an athlete? Plenty! Regularly practice the following “self-confidence rules” and your level of confidence will steadily rise:

1. PAY YOUR PHYSICAL DUES – There is no substitute for hard work. Self-confidence comes out of a solid base of physical training. If you’ve done your homework and trained well you have a right to feel confident. If you’ve regularly slacked off, trying to feel confident is a joke and it’s on you! Do everything possible in your power, and then do a little more! Confidence comes from knowing you’ve trained longer and harder than your competitors.

2. REMIND YOURSELF- Before you perform it’s useful for you to remind yourself of everything that you’ve done to prepare. Sometimes under pressure you get too nervous to think clearly. You forget how well you trained. Get into the habit of regularly reminding yourself that you’ve paid your physical dues, that you’ve done everything possible to be ready.

3. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF WITH OTHERS – FOCUS ON YOU – One of the biggest confidence drains I know is to compare yourself with opponents, with their size, skill level, training habits, record, etc. Save yourself the aggravation! Comparison is a LOSING game! You’ll always find athletes who actually are or who you think are better than you. This is not a useful pre-performance ritual. Focus on YOU. Stay inside yourself. Play your OWN game.

4. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL – Another confidence drain is to focus on “uncontrollables” or things about the performance that are directly out of your control. Focusing on “UC’s” as I call them will make you uptight, kill your confidence and sabotage your play. “Uncontrollables” are your opponent, the officiating, the weather, field conditions, the past, the outcome, other people’s expectations, etc. Keep your focus locked onto what you can control (how you react to all the “uc’s” and should you find your concentration drifting from this, quickly return it!

5. DWELL ON THE POSITIVE – Get in the habit of looking for the upside of things. Being negative will not only kill your own confidence, but it will also sap the confidence of those around you. If the weather is foul, dwell on how this will bother your opponents more than you. If an opponent is bigger, faster or stronger, think about how they have much more to lose than you since you’re not expected to win. If a competitor starts to suddenly cheat or talk trash, think about why they are doing it, because they don’t feel that their skill level by itself is enough to beat you. Be positive! You’ll feel better about yourself and perform at a higher level.

6. CATCH YOURSELF DOING THINGS RIGHT – Start today to keep a “victory log” or a recording of the little things you did that day which were small victories. If you pushed yourself beyond a training limit, then record that. If you ran a little further, jumped a little higher, trained a little harder, record those. By getting in the habit of “hunting for your little daily victories” and writing them down, you will gradually build your self-confidence.

7. BE A GOOD COACH TO YOURSELF – Get in the habit of being a forgiving, positive coach to yourself. When you make mistakes, learn from them and let them go. Don’t dwell on your mistakes and failures. Forgive yourself for them and then move on. Dwelling on mistakes and beating yourself up will only fill you with self-doubts. It will not make you a better athlete. Good coaches are forgiving and positive. Practice being one to yourself.

Good luck Lichfield City Academy/Reserve players this pre-season