By: Cindy Bristow
Provided by: Softball Excellence
Having confidence is one thing but owning it is quite another.
Discover how you can help your players own their own confidence and start to succeed as a result.
Webster's Dictionary defines confidence as "a feeling of one's powers or reliance on one's circumstances", "the faith or belief that one will act in an effective way", and "the quality or state of being certain". When you boil down these definitions you come up with the following four words: Power, Reliance, Belief, Certain. These words are powerful and convey both a feeling of strength and trust. To me, confidence is just that - a strong belief and trust in yourself.
We all know that confidence is necessary for succeeding at anything and yet it's not an easy thing to teach. Some people are born with a high amount of confidence while the rest of us struggle to some degree believing in ourselves. Although the amount of confidence each of us has may differ, one thing that doesn't is the fact that confidence is personal. Confidence is something that YOU have in some amount - either large or small - and that nobody else can have for you. Confidence is personal - it's yours.
Building, improving and strengthening confidence is an individual effort that everyone needs to do on their own. Confidence is a lot like weightlifting, nobody can do it for you, and if you want to get stronger you've got to do it yourself. While all of this makes perfect sense you might be surprised to find out how often our simple little "helpful" gestures start hurting our player's confidence. Anytime we do things for our players that they are very capable of doing themselves, they build a reliance on us. Something simple like offering to carry a player's equipment bag to the car is a very nice thing to do. But what if you did it every single day? Pretty soon the player would expect you to carry their bag, and eventually, they wouldn't feel like they were capable of carrying it themselves. That player would go from knowing they could carry their own bag to believing they couldn't.
This might sound like a silly example but we are currently in a culture where parents want to do everything for their kids. I'm not saying that the concept of those intentions isn't good, it is. Parents should want to do everything they can for their kids, but there are things that kids can, and should do, for themselves. Things like carrying their own equipment, figuring out when their next practice or game is, knowing how they did in their last game, talking for themselves and practicing. These are not things that parents should do for their kids because the simple act of doing and knowing these things helps make that player stronger and smarter and more self-reliant.
Some things in life, by the simple act of doing them actually build up our confidence. Doing and thinking and talking for our kids might seem like a nice thing to do, but it's really just a crutch for our kids to lean against. Kids who rely too much on others become crippled in their belief to rely on themselves. In other words, they lack confidence.
So what does all this have to do with "owning your confidence"? Because so many parents want to save time and do so many things for their kids, kids are learning to rely on other people for their success instead of on themselves. Players learn that if they dumb it down a notch then adults will do a lot of the heavy lifting for them. Remember that confidence is a strong belief and trust in yourself, which you don't have if everybody around you knows everything and does everything for you. Sure, it's easier that way, but it doesn't do anything to build up the player's belief in her own thoughts, and words and knowledge and skills.
I work with lots of pitchers and hitters every week and I often get panic calls from parents telling me I've got to help So-an-So with her confidence. That something happened in the last game and now So-and-So's confidence is shot and I've got to get it back for her. Every time I hear something like this it makes me feel like I own that player's confidence. It's as if the player's confidence is resting with me and that I can give it back to her, or not. This type of thinking puts an outside person completely in charge of how much or how little a player believes in herself - and that's a very dangerous path to go down if you're trying to be a successful athlete!
In life, we have Confidence Influencers, or Helpers. These influencers can either Build Up or Break Down our confidence. They can be:
While these people can influence our confidence, they don't own it unless we allow them to. Confidence is such an important element for success at anything in life that we need to do all we can to build it up and keep it strong. Making sure we own our own confidence instead of allowing outsiders to own it for us is the first step in managing those tough days and coming through them with a strong belief in ourselves.
Players - surround yourself with people who don't do all the work for you but instead, respect you enough to allow you to do your own work. Parents – resist the urge to talk for your kids and do all the work for them. Your kids are very capable of doing great things and you'd be amazed at how strong they'll become when allowed to think, and talk, and act for themselves.
Sure, we can all lend a hand whenever someone needs it, but helping someone out is different than doing it for them. Teach your players that they're the keepers of their confidence - that nobody can own it for them. Surround yourself with positive confidence influencers and get rid of the confidence suckers in your life!
The key to being confident is to OWN Your Own! Make it Yours! Only let positive confidence helpers impact your confidence and become a positive confidence helper to your teammates! Confidence is just like a muscle - when we use it it gets stronger and when we ignore it, it dies.