Sport Principle 21: Confidence is the single biggest factor: The power of the mind

About the Sport Principle

All the sports research points to this. Being confident leads to sporting success. Always! It is generally believed that there are two types of confidence in sport: one is innate and could be described as a natural disposition. It is a generalised belief to do with the extent to which an individual believes their skill set will bring them success in sport at any given time. This is known as ‘trait confidence’. However, it is the second kind of confidence as defined by sports scientists that are of interest to us: this kind of confidence, so the research says, can be learned, and is changeable over time. By contrast, this is known as ‘state confidence’. Linked to these closely connected types of confidence is the concept of self-efficacy in sport. The idea is that the way you think has a huge impact on measurable outcomes. So, how well a sports player believes they will succeed can sometimes actually have more of an impact on their success than the skill set they possess – amazing! 

Application to Life

Be confident about your life! Whether you believe you can, or you believe you can’t, you are right. Obviously, you cannot manufacture confidence from thin air, especially if your confidence has taken a beating in the past, perhaps through your own perception of yourself as having failed? (But we know not to fear failure – sport principle 4 in this series). However, you will have enough trait confidence to carry you through, you just need to find it within yourself! I’m always struck by the Biblical account of Joshua’s life and God’s repeated instruction to Joshua in chapter 1 of the book named after him to ‘be’ strong and courageous. Joshua doesn’t feel strong or courageous, but God knows that he has the courage and strength inside himself, he just needs to find it, and ‘be’ it! Perhaps you need to get some help from someone you respect in your world to build up your situation-specific state confidence. You can believe in yourself again in no time! And we now know from sports research just how powerful this concept of self-efficacy is. All you need is a new way of looking at yourself.  For those of us who are Jesus-followers, we know that our confidence comes from God Himself. This is reassuring and empowering at the same time. We know that we have no reason at all to have any confidence in our own wretched, sin-riddled state, yet, amazingly, the truth of the Gospel is that God’s love is unconditional and does not rise and fall with our relative attractiveness to Him. All of our traits and state confidence ultimately comes from Him, and what He has already achieved for us on the Cross. One of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith is that even in our weakness, God’s power is made complete in us by the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit. With God for us, and before us, and beside us and inside us, and behind us and alongside us, and all of heaven cheering us on, how can we lack confidence? After all, our confidence is in Him, not ourselves! Be confident, you can do it!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

Joshua 1:9

Image Credit: Frankie Lopez