Special thanks to contributor Sarah Marcia, a graduate student from Californiaâ€™s Bay Area, who contributed this original content for Youth1's audience.
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As an athlete a great idea to ponder is; where does confidence come from? What is confidence generated by? How is my confidence level? How do I improve it or keep it consistent?
Through out my studies and experiences I have learned that confidence is something that comes from a person's perspective. It's about the way you see yourself and the way you view the situation. It comes from the way you interpret the events in your life. One way to change your level of self-confidence is to change the way you view the situation or yourself. This may not always be an easy task, but it can be done!
The other day I was giving a pitching lesson and the mom was frustrated because her daughter wasnâ€™t getting to pitch much. When she did get time on the mound it was always against the toughest teams, so her daughter wasn't getting very many Wâ€™s. The mom was expressing to me that she wanted her daughter to get the chance to rack up some W's in hopes to build her confidence on the mound.
So now let me ask you, are you in control of winning or losing a game? Sure you play a part. Just like the pitcher, the catcher, the outfield, the #2 batter, and the bench players play a part. But are YOU in control of winning the game? No. Not only is it impossible to win a team sport competition by yourself, but you also canâ€™t control the other factors that affect the outcome of the game. For instance, you can't control the umpires and what calls they make. You canâ€™t control the talent of the opposing team, or how many errors they have.
If you rely on winning to build your self-confidence you are putting your confidence in the hands of something that is out of your control. You may get some confidence or you may not, you are relying on chance. You are relying on a dozen tiny things to line up in the exact right way in order to boost your confidence. Those odds donâ€™t sound very good to me. It sounds like the slot machines in the casino; throwing money in and relying on pure chance for a reward. Wouldnâ€™t you rather throw your money into something with a guaranteed reward? On the softball field you are putting all this effort into delivering your best performance, however if you focus on winning, you are relying on chance to get the reward of confidence from the effort you are putting in.
So how do you reap the rewards every time you step onto the field? By focusing on the things YOU CAN control. Like? Did I keep my head down on the ground ball that got hit to me? Did I swing at the best pitches in my at bat. As a pitcher was I hitting my spots? Was my first step back on every fly ball? Did I pick up every sign my coach delivered to me? Did I cheer for my teammates and stay positive throughout the game?
These are the things that should fill your emotional tank. These are the things that should boost your confidence. These are things that no one can take away from you. These are things that arenâ€™t reliant on chance, you can reap the benefits from these things every game, and every practice. Let these things build your confidence.
Here is a great activity athletes can do to become aware of which things they can and cannot control. They will also realize that trying to control the uncontrollable leads to increased stress and frustration, as well as decreased levels of performance.
Draw or layout two large circles on the floor; one slightly over lapping the other. Ropes, tape, extension cords, or a simple line drawn in the dirt with your finger can be used to make the circles. Read out factors that come into play during athletic competitions. The players have 5 seconds to choose and stand in one of the circles. If they think the factor could be in both circles, they can stand in the area where the circles overlap. After final positions are locked in place, a player from each circle should be asked to justify their choice. This often generates discussion among the players. You can make this activity a fun competition by giving athletes points for giving the most persuasive explanation for their choice of circle.
Possible factors to use: Intensity during practice, parentâ€™s actions, umpires strike zone, weather, broken equipment, game line up, errors during a game, attitude, or score of the game.
Article provided by: Sarah Marcia - Psychology graduate student from Californiaâ€™s Bay Area She has an extensive history in athletics, playing collegiate softball and coaching at an elite level for a number of years. She received her Bachelors degree in Kinesiology with a focus in coaching and a minor in exercise science. She is passionate about making sport a positive experience for all athletes; her passion is evident on her blog,onegameonelove12.com, where she lends sports psychology advice to coaches, athletes, and parents.
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