Confidence is a necessary element for anyone seeking to perform at a high level.
In sports, athletes and coaches constantly attribute successful performances to high levels of confidence.
Likewise, poor performance is often blamed on a lack of confidence.
If confidence is a key to performance, why don’t more athletes seek to develop that attribute?
Confidence is often viewed as an elusive state that ebbs and flows throughout an athlete’s career. This viewpoint may be the major reason why some many athletes fail to perform consistently.
The truth is that confidence can be developed and maintained within a certain range.
Self-Confidence is the level of belief an athlete has in his ability.
A.J. Ellis is the 32 year-old starting catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ellis has sought to improve his confidence since he made his professional debut in 2008.
In 2012, Ellis became the Dodgers’ regular catcher at the age of 30.
Ellis has caught every inning of the Dodgers’ nine postseason games in 2013 calling pitches for All-Star Clayton Kershaw and former Cy Young Award winner, Zack Greinke. Despite a career batting average of .256, Ellis is hitting .321 with five extra-base hits and a 1.040 OPS in the 2013 playoffs.
Ellis credits Tim Wallach, Ellis’ minor league manager and current third base coach for the Dodgers, for helping with his development and growing his confidence.
“The biggest thing he ever did for me, which helped me so much, was after every game [at Albuquerque]… Tim would call me into his office and he’d [Wallach] say, ‘What were the three biggest batters of the game?’ and I’d have to name them. Sometimes I’d be right, sometimes he’d name them, and he’d say, ‘What were your pitch sequences?’ I’d talk about the sequences, we’d go through the at-bats, and he’d say that was dead on, perfect, or he’d say, did you consider doing this or that? It made me start rethinking the game of baseball.”
Kershaw also credited Ellis’ work ethic.
“A.J.’s huge… I just have a lot of trust in him and what he calls. I know he’s done probably the most homework of anybody, other than [pitching coach Rick] Honeycutt. It’s just a good feeling as a pitcher that your catcher has done all the homework possible to make the right calls.”
The quotes by Wallach and Kershaw provide great insight on improving confidence:
- Preparation – Doing your homework with particular emphasis on small details gives you a sense of advantage over your opponents.
- Persistence – When you overcome mistakes by sustained effort, you learn that even the most difficult obstacles can be mastered by determined, focused effort.
- Assess – Evaluate your performance in practice and games daily and create a structured plan for improvement.
- Focus on your STRENGTHS – Identify and compete utilizing styles of play that capitalize on your unique talents.
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