Sports Confidence Killers -Part 1

Self-confidence in sports is vital to success. When you think of confident athletes, you probably bring to mind competitors like Michael Jordan who could make the clutch shot to win the game with no time left on the clock or Tiger Woods who can sink the pressure-putt in a sudden death playoff to seal the victory. But for every game-winning heroic, we could name a time when an athlete lost his confidence and couldn’t perform in the clutch or choked and lost it all. In previous articles I have discussed what self-confidence in sports is and where it comes from. In this one I explore confidence killers, those events and issues that keep athletes from playing with a confident state of mind. Just as we gain confidence from varied sources, we lose confidence for many reasons.

Doubts are confidence killers and are, in fact, the opposite of confidence. If an athlete doubts his abilities, he may play hesitantly or not even be willing to try to do certain things. If a basketball guard doubts his shooting ability, he may hesitate to take shots he can normally make or may pass when he should take the shot. Doubts can lead to indecision and being unsure about what actions to take. The problem with doubts is they can become a regular part of an athlete’s thinking and will continually undermine confidence. Learning to fight doubts will be a critical skill in regaining a confident mindset.

Irrational beliefs that an athlete holds can also undermine confidence. These can include reliance on rituals or lucky items to bring the athlete success. If the player is not able to go through a ritual or find his lucky item, he could let this throw off his ability to feel confident. The athlete may even feel he cannot succeed without those items or rituals.

For some athletes irrational beliefs may stem from their need for approval from others. Wanting approval isn’t all bad unless it becomes too important and negatively affects confidence. When we care too much about what others think, we start to mind-read and our focus turns to what we think they are thinking about us. In reality, we can’t really know what others are thinking; and truthfully, people really just aren’t thinking about us that much. Again, to become confident in the face of these issues, the athlete must come to see that these beliefs have no bearing on performance.

The good news is that these confidence killers can be “killed” themselves. It is a matter of changing our focus or modifying our thinking to get our minds back to those things that help us regain confidence. We can fight doubts and fears. We can get back to our confidence sources to once again enjoy our sport and “just do it!”

To read about more confidence killers go to Confidence Killers – Part 2.



  1. Yes,confidence is definitely the cornerstone of athletic peak performance. Banishing doubts is a vital key to athletic success.

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