When Confidence is Low

A Disciplined Mind-training your mind to excel in sports and life.

When a person and/or athlete’s confidence is low as parents, teachers, and coaches we often don’t want to accept it and try to correct it through immediate reassurance telling them they are capable or great. This immediate reassurance many times is only temporary as the person falls back into the emotions of despair and angst. Here are three ways to help them increase their self-confidence more permanently.

1. Listen to them.
-Let them voice their emotions and work through their feelings so that they can accept where they are and take future action. Many times they really need someone to listen to them without judging their thoughts and feelings.

2. Help them gain perspective.
-When a student, person, or athlete’s confidence is low they are fixated on either the immediate negative past experience or the oncoming daunting future. They may have struggled on the past test or lost 6-0, 6-0 in the last tennis match and feel like they are not capable and worthy anymore. By focusing on the immediate past negative result, they keep playing it over and over in their mind feeling less and less powerful and capable to do something different in similar future situations. Just because they had a negative experience in the immediate past does not mean all future experiences will be the same. When they are afraid of the big test, competition, or situation in front of them they feel overwhelmed at the big mountain they have to climb in front of them. Neither mental construct is helpful and tears away at their confidence. As a parent, teacher, coach, or mentor we can help them refocus their thoughts to realize that all they have is the present moment and one competition or test will not define them as a person, student, and athlete. Helping them prepare and focus on their preparation, things they have control of, empowers them. Rather than worrying about the big final coming up that is worth half of their semester grade, help them gain perspective by redirecting their mind to what they need to study for the test to do their best on it.

3. Focus on past success
-Ask them to envision a time when they were relaxed, confident, and performed well in the past. Many of the top athletes in the world use visualization of a past positive experience to calm them and build their confidence in high pressure situations. They also use this visualization exercise when they have been struggling. For example, Kobe Bryant thinks back to playing high school pick-up basketball games when the stakes are really high for him. This relaxes him and helps him believe and trust in his abilities.

Learn from the past, embrace the present, and rise to the occasion. As Billie Jean King said, “With pressure comes opportunity.”

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All the best,
A Disciplined Mind
~training your mind to excel in sports and life


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