The concept of self-confidence in sports

Although athletes and coaches are constantly talking about self-confidence, it is not easy to define it. Sports psychologists define self-confidence as a personal belief in successfully performing a desired behavior. The desired behavior can be anything related to the sport, the point is to be able to achieve it. Self-confidence can refer to something that the athlete feels today, so be state self-confidence or it can be part of his personality, so he has trait self-confidence. Usually the athletes who stand out have trait self-confidence, something that makes them leader in team sports. When a athlete expects something to go wrong, during the race or training session, he creates the self-fulfilling prophecy which means that he is waiting for something to happen that will make him not have the proper performance. The self-fulfilling prophecies function like a vicious circle and so the expectation of failure leads to real failure. But what are the benefits of self-confidence?

Self-confidence makes the athlete feel confident about himself and stay calm in stressful situations, at the same time creating positing emotions that raise his performance. Also self-confidence increases the effort. When the athlete has self-confidence he thinks that he can reach the desired goal more easily. At the same time, self-confidence affects the momentum of a match, as in the game the psychology has different variations, so when each athlete feels confident and faithful to himself, he can then get the momentum and determine the final result of a game. On the contrary a player without self-confidence does not play properly and he is overwhelmed by self-fulfilling prophecies. While in team sports he plays in order to avoid mistakes and he is less interested in his contribution to the final outcome of the game. Then there is the over confidence which deceives athletes and they begin to have more self-confidence than the skills they have and they start to think that they don’t need to train or eat properly as they are the best. Also in team sports many teams, that they are on top of the table, underestimate the “smaller teams” so sometimes the former ones don’t get the desired result. This phenomenon is very common as there are big surprises where outsiders “shocked” not only their opponents but the whole world e.g. Denmark in 1992 was crowned European Football Champion. Which factors affect the self-confidence and behavior of athletes?

An important factor that affects the self-confidence and behavior of athletes regards the coaches as they are the ones who shape the expectations of the athletes or their teams by raising their morale and setting goals. It also matters, apart from the coach mentality, the mentality of the team and the management of the club , a very typical example of that are the words of Giampiero Boniperti (former football player) “Victory does not matter, is the only thing that counts” something that marked the mentality of his club for over 20 years. Finally, the most important factor is the athlete himself as with his thoughts he essentially determines his performance and the final outcome of the game, while the experiences of the athletes and their performance in the last games also play an important role e.g. If a basketball player scored on the last shot, and did it in several games, then he will show a high degree of self-efficacy and he can do it again.

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