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Building Confidence in Sports

Part of the Sports Psychology For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Sports psychology can help athletes looking to improve their confidence. You may be the strongest, tallest, most powerful athlete on the field, court, or track, but if you aren’t confident in your abilities, you’ll have trouble reaching your goals. Work on improving your confidence just as you work on developing your sport-specific skills, and your performance will soar.

  • Realize that confidence fluctuates. Confidence for all athletes — even at the highest level — ebbs and flows. Confidence is not all-or-nothing. It’s a state of mind that fluctuates, so don’t beat yourself up when your confidence is lower. Just focus on improving, and your confidence will follow suit.

  • Focus on yourself, not on others. Instead of thinking about how well your teammates or opponents are doing, think about your own performance and how you can improve. This is your athletic career, so you need to focus on what you need to do to improve as an athlete. And when you improve as an athlete, your confidence will increase.

  • Focus on day-to-day success. When you have success every day in training — even the smallest of successes — your confidence rises. If your confidence rises a small amount each day, just think where you’ll be in one month, six months, or a year!

  • Concentrate on the process, not outcomes. When you focus on improving your performance — the process of improving — you become more confident because you’re focusing on something you have control over. You can’t control outcomes — you may play your best game ever and still lose. If you’re focused on process, sure, you’ll be disappointed when you lose, but your confidence will remain high, because you’ll know you performed your best.

  • Focus on what you’re doing right. Learning from your mistakes is important, but you don’t want to linger on them. If you spend too much time thinking about your mistakes, your confidence will wane. When you focus on what you’re doing right and correct your errors, your confidence will rise.

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