Every soccer parent wants the best for their children.
Health & Wellbeing.
Lots of goals, victories and unshakeable levels of confidence.
According to Google, players and parents are searching for answers to these questions.
How to gain confidence in soccer?
How to be confident in soccer?
How to be confident when playing soccer?
How to build confidence in soccer?
And the search for that elusive burst of confidence continues…
Sad State of Affairs
Players that lack soccer confidence can be seen from the comfort of the grandstands during matches.
…and from the comfort of the car during a cold winter’s night at training.
For the player, its challenging.
For the parents who have to watch, its heart breaking!
Throw the two together and you have a recipe to cook up the most insidious levels of self-doubt.
In order to search for a solution, you need to define and understand what it means to be confident.
What it means to be confident in your soccer ability?
What is Soccer Confidence?
Courtesy of Dr Nate Zinsser,
“Confidence is a sense of certainty about your ability, which allows you to bypass conscious thought and execute unconsciously.”
You might be wondering who is Dr Nate Zinsser?
Dr Nate Zinsser is a renowned performance psychology expert who has taught three generations of soldiers, athletes and executives to master the art of confidence and mental toughness.
In his book, “The Confident Mind- A Battle-Tested guide to Unshakeable Performance”, he breaks down his definition in the following way.
1- A sense of certainty: that feeling of having complete faith.
2- About your ability: that you can do something, or you know something.
3- Which allows you to bypass conscious thought: you can do something so well you don’t have to think about it.
4- And execute unconsciously: so, you perform it automatically and instinctively.
So, here’s what confidence isn’t.
Misconception 1- Confidence is a fixed, inherent trait
Players, children and even adults are not born with confidence.
It would be ludicrous to look at any player and assume he or she was born with confidence.
Confidence is learnt and must be harnessed on a daily basis as we tackle the high and lows of life and soccer.
Soccer confidence is the result of consistent, constructive thinking that allows the player to do two things.
1- Retain and benefit from successful experiences. These could be memories from winning games, beating your direct opponent or meeting and exceeding personal goals.
2- Release or restructure their less successful experiences. Learning to deal with failures, mistakes and having the mentality to forget or use them as a learning experience.
“Believing that confidence (or the lack of it) is an inherited gift gives people an easy and convenient excuse for not putting in the time, energy and effort to improve their thinking process”- Dr Nate Zinsser.
It’s not only empowering but significantly encouraging to think of confidence as a quality that you can develop the same way you develop any other skill.
Misconception 2- Confidence is all-encompassing
This misconception suggests that you’re either confident across the board in all aspects of the game or you’re not confident at all.
Anyone that has played the game knows that confidence is extremely specific to the task at hand and the situation.
Asking a dominant left footer to score a free kick with his right foot would quickly sap his confidence. Asking the same player to whip in a cross down the left wing would play straight into his strengths whilst giving him a burst of confidence.
Great coaches have the ability to protect players confidence by playing them to their strengths.
Are they confident in all positions?
They do not need to be.
Confidence is definitely not binary.
Misconception 3- Confidence is forever
Unfortunately, nothing is forever…
Soccer confidence here today, gone today!
The daily fight against self-doubt and building confidence is a perpetual war that never ends.
Maintaining confidence requires awareness and consistent attention to ensure the negative self-critic doesn’t take over.
Those who succeed in the long run are the players who are willing to patiently and persistently maintain their levels of confidence against the laws of attrition.
Misconception 4- Confidence is guaranteed
Unless you’re buying steak knives, nothing is guaranteed.
By default, once you’ve achieved success that is reinforced with some positive feedback your confidence levels will start to grow.
A healthy bank balance of confidence is great…
But that’s only half the story.
What happens when players cannot replicate previous successes?
What happens to players when the positive reinforcement dries up during difficult periods?
What happens to players when the dreaded self-doubt enters the conversation because of mistakes made on the green pastures?
Please remember, success in and of itself is not a guaranteed confident booster. It’s what you do with your success-related thoughts and memories that determines whether you feel confident.
Misconception 5- Mistakes destroys confidence
If this were true, all players would quit the game within the season. If you watch any form of the game, you’ll quickly realise that a mistake is made every minute.
A mistake, even a big one like missing a penalty or scoring an own goal will only erode your confidence if you let it.
All mistakes on the field are temporary and only have a life span of ninety minutes.
Mistakes are not necessarily confidence destroyers. They only become leaches when you linger on them, review them and continue to replay them.
Let them go…
If you are going to review and replay segments of play, make sure you focus on the positives and all the successful passages of play you were involved in.
The Truth will set you Free
Soccer Confidence is like a psychological bank account where you store all your memories and past achievements…or lack of them.
The account grows or diminishes depending on how you are thinking at any moment.
Deposit positive memories and achievements and the account starts to grow.
Deposit negative memories, mistakes and failures and you’ll be quickly filing for bankruptcy.
The choice is simple…
Visions of ongoing success or visions of ongoing troubles.
Before you set off to find that elusive burst of confidence ask yourself the following question, what exactly are you putting into your bank account?
What most players fail to recognise is that they have the power. They have the power to choose what they remember.
Choose empowering thoughts and memories.
Taking control of your deposits will create for yourself an advantage over all those who don’t.
In a game of inches…
Could this be the advantage you need?
May the winds of destiny blow you to the stars.