Self-confidence in sports relies primarily on the athlete's ability to believe he can win and that he can be successful in his efforts. Consultants at the United States Tennis Association report that self-confidence is one of the most important attributes an athlete can possess and should be fostered by both athletes and their coaches.
Athletes must develop self-confidence within their own minds. It is not something they can receive from others. While coaches can encourage players with positive feedback, if the athlete does not identify with success, it doesn't matter how much praise she receives. Athletes must take ownership of their confidence and not allow outside circumstances to interfere with their self-image, even on bad days.
While self-confidence originates within the player, athletes must surround themselves with positive role models and supporters to keep up their internal self-talk. Athletes can look for inspiration in a number of arenas and use positive strategies to maintain their upbeat attitudes. Retired athletes, spiritual advisers, coaches and training partners all can provide positive support and reinforcement.
Professional trainers at USA Swimming report that self-confidence in sports does not mean that athletes feel great about themselves all the time. All athletes experience periods of self-doubt and negativity. Elite athletes often feel discouraged and lack the self-confidence they need to compete. While their feelings may be lagging, an athlete who has built self-confidence in his abilities can work through the bouts of doubt and rely on the confidence in his skills rather than on his thoughts at the time.
The significance of training cannot be underplayed when it comes to building self-confidence. The most effective self-confidence is based on reality that is formed by practice and training. Extensive training to overcome weaknesses builds confidence. Trophies, ribbons and other positive outcomes add to the level of confidence an athlete is capable of building. Continued success breeds self-confidence.
Rebounding from Setbacks
Successful athletes know how to manage their emotions and not let outside circumstances influence their internal feelings or their behavior and performance. Self-confidence means getting right back on the horse and rebounding from failure and loss without giving up. Confident athletes do not allow loss to cause them to feel angry or pessimistic, but instead use the losses to fuel their motivation to train harder and win the next one.