The Number One Confidence Killer for Athletes

Youth Sports Psychology

High Expectations Verse High Confidence

No matter what sport you play, if you focus too much on outcome expectations, your confidence will take a hit.

I call this the confidence-expectation connection.

Here’s the connection:

When your expectations are super high—and you fail to achieve those expectations—confidence takes a hit.

Here’s a prime example from a college kicker:

“I’m a freshman kicker in college. My first kick in a game was not what I expected and my confidence hasn’t been the same ever since.”

Usually doubt can set in, “Why am I not performing well?” “What am I doing wrong.”

This kicker’s confidence went into a downward spiral and he started to focus on how not missing kicks, and it got worse:

“It has gotten to the point of which I can’t even seem to perform in practice in front of a coach. I never think of the positive but rather the negative. I have lost my spot and I have hit rock bottom on the athletic field. How can I get my confidence back?”

Keep in mind that his downward spiral and eventual slump first started when he failed to perform up to his own expectations.

And that’s why it’s critical for you to be aware of your own expectations or the demands you place on your performance.

Having high expectations for your performance is not the same as having confidence.

As a matter of fact, most athletes I work with on the mental game have super high expectations and low confidence because of the confidence-expectation connection.

High expectations and low confidence is a recipe for failure.

So what can you or your athletes do?

  1. Uncover the outcome expectations, ones that cause pressure.
  2. Agree that these are limiting your confidence and performance. Discard them.
  3. Focus instead on how you will execute each play, shot, pitch, or run, one at a time.

Number 3 above is the key. Set smaller goals or objective to help you focus on execution instead of your outcome expectations.

For example, I’d want this athlete to start focusing on his pre-kick routine and how he’ll execute a good kick.

And not focus on the outcome and what the coach might think if he misses.

If you want to grow your confidence in sports, you have to start by overcoming expectations that can smother your confidence quickly.

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