Keys to Helping Your Confidence
One of the most talked about and elusive mental skills is confidence. Why is it we can play so well in practice but when it comes to the big game, our performance falls short?
It may be a mistake made or an opponent makes a good play on us and we start to doubt our abilities and our confidence slips.
Here's a demonstration for explaining confidence. Place a piece of wood, 6 inches wide and 10 feet long, on the floor. A volunteer is asked to walk down the board and balance on it which is no problem.
Let's take the same piece of wood and put each end of the board up on a chair where it's 20 inches off the ground. As the volunteer to do the same balancing act. Typically the athlete has no problem doing it but there is hesitation becuase of the height.
Now, let's imagine walking between two budilings, 50 stories up, in New York City. Would we be able to balance and walk over to the other end. Most respond, "no way, are you kidding me!"
For all three examples above, the skill and the maner which the athlete needed to perform were the same. What changed is the circumstances.
It's the same thing when playing in a match. It's not that you don't know how to pass, driblle, or shoot because you do it all the time at practice. It's when the circumstances change. During a big game, against a tough opponent, the pressure is on. It's like being 50 stories up on a balancing board.
The best players in the world have issues with confidence. Fernando Torres was on fire when he played with Liverpool FC. He was consistently taking players on with power and speed, scoring tremendous goals. When he was transferred to Chelsea FC, his form suffered. There were high expectations on and a lot of pressure on Torres to perform well. Although he was working hard on the field and creating chances and assists for his teammates, he lost confidence finishing. He missed many shots which he would ordinarily put in the back of the net.
What are things we can do to help build our confidence?
SET GOALS (See Strategy of the Month - February)
Goal setting helps build confidence. Everytime we accomplish small goals, it improves our confidence. This encourages us to try to set more goals and bigger goals.
- off-season fitness workouts
- preseason running
and most importantly
The more your practice, the more your master your sport, and the more confident you become.
Are you working on your effort?
Are you outworking your temmates?
Are you practicing only the things you do well?
Are you working hard on the weaker parts of your game?
When we measure our efforts and see improvment, this helps us build our confidence.
Our Social Choices
Preparations also includes are off the field social choices. Do you choose to make good responsibile social choices or do you hang with the wrong people and make some poor choices? This can affect our confidence.
If we don't believe in ourselves, who can? Do you believe that you can do it? Do you truly believe in your abilities? your level of fitness? your tactical preparation, and your mental toughness?
When the game is on the line are you the one that wantst he ball becuase you believe you can score or make the difference to assist in socring?
Are you the one when the game is on the line wants to hide from the ball?
Coaches and Parents
Confidence can come from our coaches and parents. Frank Lampart of Chelsea FC talks about Jose Mourhino as being one of the best coaches he has ever had. Jose had a way of instilling great confidence in each player through his preparation, especially in the way he spoke to his players. Jose Mourhino showed he believed in each of his players.
Our parents can be great confidence boosters. When they give us positive and honest feedback that supports our efforst, there's nothing better.
Confidence also comes from your past successes on and off the field. If you are a good student, artist, musician, skate boarder or anything, this can help your success in soccer. One you know you can be successful at one thing, it's much easier to apply this confidence to other areas of your life.