Muhammad Ali once boasted, "I don’t think it’s bragging to say I’m something special.” Yeah, easy for a championship boxer to say. Mere mortals don't always have the confidence it takes to dominate in sports. When you're just starting or you're trying to improve your game, how you feel about yourself, your skills and your instincts shows on the playing field. Make sure your lack of confidence doesn't hold you back from being the athlete you can be by practicing esteem-boosting tactics so you can gain some of that on-field confidence to step up your game.
Practice and train as much as possible. You might have heard that athletes are born and not made, but no athlete is as proficient without the proper training techniques. Without regular practice, you can't use your training as a way to build confidence in sports. When you know you've put in the time and effort to get better, you'll feel positively about your overall performance come crunch time.
Swap negative thoughts with positive self-talk. After a mistake on the court or a loss, it's easy to let negativity tear down your confidence. But for every negative thought, there are probably three positive things about your performance. Every time you find yourself thinking negatively, think of three positive things instead, like your strengths in being a good teammate, your natural talent or your sports endurance.
Retool overdramatic and unrealistic thoughts and statements from affecting your confidence and performance. The most damaging thoughts are those that are completely untrue, like "I'll never be as good as my teammate," or "We'll never win, so why try?" In truth, you'll be as good with enough practice and you always have a chance for the win. Examine the thoughts hurting your confidence to see whether they're actually realistic.
Plan what you can do to overcome actions that might be hurting your confidence. For instance, if a bad pass during a soccer game has you reliving the moment, take a soccer clinic or utilize passing drills. If it's your endurance during a game that's hurting your performance, undergo a cardio training regimen to help build it up. Confidence will come from acknowledging your weaknesses and then planning around them so they don't stop your game.
Reward yourself for a job well done. Celebrating success -- whether it's point-based or simply the result of overcoming certain deficiencies -- is an important part of building up your confidence so it shows on the field or court. Celebrating with new gear, a movie night or a protein shake after a game lets you acknowledge your hard work and helps to build up your self-esteem based on positive experiences.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.