How Can You Bring Practice Confidence to Games?
“Why does my confidence disappear when I go from practice to games?”
This is a question I received from many athletes who struggle with having a full tank of confidence in competition.
Why would you struggle with confidence only in competition when you play the same game as practice, but on a different day?
Here are some explanations why you lose confidence in competition:
- You’re more comfortable in your practice routines than in competition.
- You’ve struggled in the past with your performance in competition.
- You think you always choke in competition.
- You become intimidated by the competition.
- You fear failure and tighten up or worry about outcomes.
- You try too hard to be perfect and lose trust.
I call this topic having competitive self-confidence versus practice self-confidence. Perfectionists often struggle with confidence in competition because they are more comfortable in practice.
How can you take your practice confidence to games?
First, let go of the past. Stop hanging on to over generalizations that only hurt your mindset, such as, “I always choke or play poorly in games.”
Second, you have to remind yourself that the game and your physical skills are still the same; nothing has changed except the ball park you play in.
Third, true confidence comes from within you based on your experience, belief in your skills, and past success. Do not allow circumstances to dictate your confidence level, such as who you are competing against or the venue.
Most importantly, you have to understand that confidence is a long-term trait. If you lose confidence when you step onto the playing field or after the first batter of the game, that’s not real confidence.
Tips to Take Confidence to Games:
- Focus on your strengths and talents, not the opposing team’s abilities. It’s about what you have, not what others have.
- Think about the years of practice and play you have, not just your warm up performance.
- Remind yourself that competition is the reward for all your hard work in practice. Trust the work you put in in practice.
- Know what hurts your confidence (doubt, making comparisons to others, high expectations, or being self-critical).
- Address your personal confidence killers from 4 above. Not only do you have to fuel your confidence at game-time, but you also have to overcome your personal confidence killers!
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