Author: Dr. K.C. Wilder

Doctor, Performance consultant specializing in youth performance enhancement


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Mental Preparation and Sustained Confidence

Mental preparation and building sustained confidence for an individual and for your team takes time, effort, patience and perseverance. It is a fine art to balance control and freedom within a team practice. One of the keys to minimize your athletes’ performance anxiety is to focus on what your athletes are doing right.

What are Your Athletes Doing Right?

Focusing your attention on what they are doing right will build their sustained confidence and maximize their talent. The more they build on their self-trust, the greater their control on attentional focus, thoughts, and emotions. The consistency of their confidence will lead to less performance anxiety, fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of letting oneself or others down. The athlete with sustained confidence will accept mistakes, move on and not dwell on negative consequences. Similar to having consistent routines, sustained confidence will lead to more consistent performances.

Performance Anxiety Minimized

By focusing on what your athletes do right, you are contributing to their self-efficacy and reducing performance anxiety. In contrast, constant criticism of their performance will contribute to their frustration and self-doubt. Young athletes are highly influenced by parents, teachers and coaches. Your mission as a coach is to identify  methods and strategiesto gain a more consistent level of confidence. Let your athletes know that making a mistake on the athletic field, court, track or arena does not make them a failure as a person.

Coaching Style Can Be Adapted.

As a coach, you have control over your approach with your athletes and your response to their execution of a skill. Provide positive, functional feedback and focus on what you want your athletes to do and not what you don't want them to do. The notion is simple; however, the execution of building confidence can be challenging in the heat of the battle. Coaches can experience levels of frustration that is sometimes difficult to combat. Develop your own keen sense of awareness of what is right about you and the way that you coach.

Commitment To Sustained Confidence.

Make it your responsibility to make the commitment to have sustained confidence in your team and sustained confidence in each individual athlete. Design practice or drills that can provide some of the building blocks for confidence. Remind your athletes that anxiety is related to self-doubt and that they have a choice to have a little bit of self-doubt or a lot of self-doubt. Instill confidence by having your athletes learn how to fight self-doubt. After practice, devote 10 minutes to their mental preparation. This can include progressive relaxation exercises coupled with positive mental imagery. You can review the past successes of the team and all individual successes.

Key Concepts on Confidence For Coaches

1. Sustained confidence emphasizes the importance of consistency of assurance.

2. Sustained confidence is freedom from fear of failure in the face of obstacles or setbacks.

3. Identify what jolts an athlete’s sustained confidence. What turns their perception from self-belief to distrust?

4. When you have sustained confidence you have consistency of thought, behavior and performance.

5. You can instill sustained confidence with your team through your behaviors, feedback and practice design.

Questions to consider:

-What do you do as a coach to instill sustained confidence?

-Does your practice design instill confidence in your players?

-Are there certain drills that you can do to instill confidence in your players?

-Do you prepare your players for competition through positivity and trust?

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