Aug 20, 2013 5:46 PM
There are five unique stages of sports confidence that every athlete must travel through on their way to the development of “rock solid” sports confidence. It might help you to visualize the different stages by comparing them to the process of a child learning how to ride a bike. Here are the 5 stages:
1. “I can’t do it” – A genuine belief that the task cannot be done successfully and often accompanied by an unwillingness to even attempt the task. In this stage the athlete is full of anxiety and doubt (imagine walking into the nurse’s office at school for that kindergarten vaccination shot. Yikes!).
2. “I’m not sure I can do it” – In this stage the athlete is at least open to the faint possibility of completing the task successfully. Their confidence is still low, but the anxiety level is lower as well.
3. “I hope I can do it”– In this stage there is a 50/50 belief the task can be done.“Hope” is an indicator of budding confidence and a willingness to engage in the risk of trying. This is the tipping point stage in the building of “rock solid” sports confidence.
4. “I think I can do it” – This statement alone is a huge leap over stage #3 in that the athlete has tangible thoughts that they will complete the task successfully. In this stage confidence is quite high as the dominant thought patterns are “can do.” This is the stage that most athletes never rise above, while remaining susceptible to the mental perils of game/match adversity.
5. “I know I can do it” – This is the rarefied level of sports confidence that all elite athletes achieve. It is a knowingness with absolute certainty in one’s ability to complete the task at the highest level of success. Beliefs, thoughts and feelings are all in alignment with an unparalleled expectancy for success. This is the highest level of sports confidence because it contains within it the strongest “resiliency factor” possible, even in the face of extreme adversity.
Now using the bike analogy imagine how a young person responds on their path of bicycle riding mastery when they fall off the bike in each of these 5 stages of sports confidence. Obviously in stage one the youngster may not even get back on the bike, while in stage five the youngster sees the fall as only a fluke and can’t wait to hop back on the bike and ride as fast as ever!
The other sensitive part of these 5 stages is that any younger athlete can jump forward or slip back into another sports confidence stage rather easily, depending on how they process game/match day adversity. So as parent or coach it’s vitally important to understand these 5 stages of sports confidence so you will be able to get a good read on where your athlete’s confidence level is at any given time.
Building Sports Confidence is a Dynamic Process
Building the “rock solid”sports confidence parents, coaches and athletes alike aspire to is akin to mastering the sport…it is a process that takes time; meaning there are no shortcuts. And because building sports confidence is so closely tied with developing sport specific skills it is easy for player, parent and coach to get sucked into the emotional roller coaster ride while watching athlete or team perform on the court or field.
Expectations, both internal and external, can be devastating to the process of building sports confidence. As parents and coaches unless we recognize that sports mastery and sports confidence are a dynamic “process” that may look like two steps forward one day and a step back the next, we run the risk of doing more damage than good to our athlete(s). Having patience is a prerequisite to building “rock solid” sports confidence.
Enjoy the journey and be there to pick your athlete up after a particularly hard game. Don’t add to his/her anguish by setting unrealistic expectations for performance. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your athlete’s sports mastery or sports confidence.
For more on building rock solid sports confidence for your athlete go to: http://goo.gl/P40jgA
Thanks for reading! --John Michael Kelly
Boost your athlete's game day confidence fast with the Sports Confidence Blueprint program!