SA School Sports


Last updateTue, 04 Dec 2018 12pm

   Join our newsletter here:      

sw SASchools banner V3

Back You are here: Home
Monday, 04 February 2019 20:37

Sports Psychology: Confidence Part 2

Written by  Iain Shippey

Last week I said that practice was one of the main sources of the confidence that we take into a game or race situation.

Repetition is the pathway to Automaticity. The dictionary definition of Automaticityis the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit. It is usually the result of learningrepetition, and practice. Examples of tasks carried out by 'muscle memory' often involve some degree of automaticity.

Practice gives your muscles brains

Last year I had the privilege of hosting Garth Wright, former Springbok Scrumhalf on a Webinar that I hosted for Thincsport. He spoke about extraordinary technical skills being the foundation of sporting genius.

Let me elaborate further. If you are a rugby flyhalf and you have complete confidence in your ability to catch the ball from you scrumhalf and kick it to various parts of the field, you free up head space to think tactically. If you are worried and preoccupied with thoughts of not catching the ball, you will not have the additional mental bandwidth to scan the field for the exact place where you want to kick the ball.

Practice, is the pathway to having more time to think strategically

When you first learn to drive a manual car, your conscious mind is preoccupied with coordinating your foot movements on the clutch and accelerator and having the gear lever in the right place. Over time your responses become automated, they are deeply embedded in the subconscious mind and the basics of gear changing are not stressing you out.

Types of Confidence:

  1. General Confidence
  2. Task-specific Confidence
  3. Prime Confidence

Confidence can be very highly task-specific. You may be very confident in your shot-making skill in netball but less confident in your defensive play. This implies that confidence levels can range from zero confidence to extreme confidence in different aspects of your game; and the theory applies to all sports and to the individual tasks performed within each sport. In golf, a player can have a high level of confidence with his driver, a medium level with iron play, and a low level with putting. Athletes in all sports can experience this same variation in confidence.

Six levels of belief in one’s ability to execute a task:

  1. I hope I can hit this shot . . .
  2. Maybe I can hit this shot . . .
  3. I think I can hit this shot . . .
  4. I believe I can hit this shot . . .
  5. I know I can hit this shot . . .
  6. I will hit this shot . . .

This may sound like a matter of semantics, but it depicts how confidence varies from “I hope” or “I wish” to “I believe”. Thinking in these terms allows athletes to understand the space they are in more easily.

Prime Confidence

Prime confidence is a deep, lasting, and resilient belief in one's ability. With prime confidence, you are able to stay confident even when you're not performing well. Prime confidence keeps you positive, motivated, intense, focused, and emotionally in control when you need to be. You aren't negative and uncertain in difficult competitions and you're not overconfident in easy competitions. Prime confidence also encourages you to seek out pressure situations and to view difficult conditions and tough opponents as challenges to pursue. Prime confidence enables you to perform at your highest level consistently. Prime confidence is not arrogance!’– Jim Taylor

Personal Reflection:

  1. How sturdy or fragile is your confidence?
  2. Do you use practice very intentionally to develop your skills and ability?
  3. What performances in the last season or two are a source of confidence to you?
  4. Do you possess a winning outlook and attitude?
  5. What levels of belief do you have in your ability to perform a certain task?


Thinc Sport 2 copy

Related items