As athletes and coaches we hear a lot about the importance of confidence. But what does that actually look like, how can we become more confident on the pitch? I took Sports Psychology in undergrad and the name of the class could have been, Confidence. It was all about playing to win as opposed to playing not to lose. Simply, that means you need to play ferocious, as opposed to playing not to make any mistakes and thus playing timid. Coaches want players who are impact makers. When you play to win you are able to showcase your full abilities and help your team win! When you play confident you are always actively trying to get on the ball. You get to places and angles of support, and make runs. You want the ball because you know you are a dominant player who will change the course of the game.
Now this confidence needs to be founded in skills and abilities that you have developed through hard work. It is important to remind yourself before a game that you have worked harder, you have more skill and it is now time to be confident, take the pitch and dominate. To that point, as a player I loved a song lyric that summed that message up. It goes, “I am victorious only when I remember who I am.” Love the process and be confident!
As coaches it is our job to help develop confident players, so what can we do? For starters sharing the above message so players understand this message is important. Secondly, being positive with players so they enjoy the process of practicing helps greatly. Set a good example for players, and inspire them through your own abilities and skills. A very key point is the following; How do you think players will play if they know they will be subbed off immediately if they make one mistake? They will most likely play timid and not play very strong. And conversely, how do you think a player will play if they feel like the coach has faith in him or her, they feel like the team really needs them to perform strong to win, and they have the freedom to play creatively? They will play great! Coaches I urge you to help instill this very important sense of confidence in your teams.