The key to establishing authentic confidence is to have the right perspective. As coaches, we need to help our players view all things through the proper lens, so that their self-esteem is not inflated or damaged by trivial events. In my opinion, the first step in creating proper perspective is to identify things that are completely in our players’ control.
Begin by having your athletes brainstorm aspects of their performance that they can control every single day. Things like hustle, preparation, focus, enthusiasm, energy, attitude, and communication will likely come up, as well as several others. At the end of the discussion, make sure players understand that each of these is a choice. Players choose to hustle. They choose their attitude. They cannot control what happens once the ball leaves the bat, but they can always control their choices leading up to, and following that moment.
Players who base their self-confidence solely on outcomes are more likely to be misled and feel disproportionately over- or under-confident. In addition, players who focus on outcomes are more likely to see their confidence fluctuate based on the situation, which is the opposite of what we are trying to achieve. This is why the ability to define which aspects they can and cannot control is essential for building genuine confidence.
Identifying Choices Breakdown:
Skill: Players will be able to identify which facets of their game are choices that they make, and consistently make the right choices.
Why: By identifying the things that are within their control, athletes can build a genuine and authentic confidence that is neither inflated nor damaged by uncontrollables.
Method: Throughout practice, emphasize those aspects of the game that were discussed. Provide positive feedback to players hustling, playing with enthusiasm, and communicating well. Make a conscious effort to only praise controllables.
Though this may sound simple, it can be very difficult. Both players and coaches tend to be results-oriented, and can be consumed by their desire for a certain outcome. Bringing the focus to the controllables means bringing attention back to the process.
As coaches, we help or hinder progress every time we provide feedback. With a constant focus on controllables, we can help our athletes adapt to this style of evaluation. We can teach them to take pride in making the right choices, and watch as aspects of the game that are outside of their control have less and less impact on their psyche. Building healthy individual perspectives will lead to improved team perspective, and who knows—maybe as coaches we will also learn a thing or two along the way.
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