Mental Game Tips to Assess Performance and Grow Confidence

Grow Confidence in Sports

Growing Confidence in Sports

Are you (or your athletes) overly self-critical of your game after losing or a poor performance? If so, you are not alone. Many athletes criticize their performance after a loss–and this is another confidence buster.

If you’re self-critical of your performance and dwell on shortcomings, how will you grow your confidence from competition to competition?

We know perfectionists, for example, tend to be very self-critical and scold themselves for mistakes. How many times after a game have you said, “If only I hadn’t missed those two easy shots, we might have won the game?”

Athletes who are committed to improvement, especially perfectionists, sabotage their confidence by being overly harsh about their performance. When assessing their own performance, these athletes:

  • Focus on the mistakes they made
  • Are self-critical of their performance
  • Can’t remember the good plays or shots
  • Disqualify any positives about their performance
  • Can’t feel satisfied even when they do well because they never perform up to their high expectations
  • Want to perform perfectly and view less than perfect as a failure

Let’s not forget parents… In their efforts to help their kids improve, they can instill a critical mindset: “John, how did you miss those easy passes?” a parent asks after the game.

Often parents are well meaning and want to help their athletes, but sometimes they focus on their athletes’ mistakes or shortcomings.

What can you or your athletes do to avoid this confidence buster? After all, you want to earn confidence with each performance, not tear it down.

Here are a few mental game strategies to consider:

(1) First, try to be objective about your performance (instead of subjective). When athletes are subjective, the emotions take over, such as frustration and anger, and that’s when you can be the most self-critical.

(2) Be your own best coach. How would you look at your game if you pretended to be the most positive coach you know? What are two positive things a coach might tell you about your performance that would make you feel satisfied or more confident about today’s game?

(3) Focus on your assets instead of mistakes. Ask yourself: What are two things you did well in today’s competition? Discuss these first with a teammate, parent, or coach. Avoiding dwelling on the plays, shots, or routines that got away from you.

(4) Focus on how to improve, not shortcomings. Instead of thinking about all the reasons you failed or messed up in today’s game, think about what you want to improve in next week’s practice. Feel confident knowing you’ll work to improve areas that will help you perform better in the next competition.

Do not derail your confidence–the confidence you have gained from years of practice and competition–with self-criticism and self-reproach after you compete.

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The Confident Athlete

The Confident Athlete Audio

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