Confidence Versus Competence: Skills to Last A Lifetime
Confidence is key! At least that’s what I was told when I was a kid playing soccer and it’s what is continuously preached in the sporting world today. While confidence does make a significant impact on sports performance, competence is something that is greatly overlooked and has a direct impact on an athlete's confidence both on and off the field. Similarly, when an athlete becomes competent in a sport, they can also gain confidence on the field. So if the two go hand in hand, how can we help our athletes be better at both?
To be competent in a sport means the athlete acquires the skills, knowledge, strength, and judgment required to be successful at that particular sport. For example, a competent soccer player has a deeper understanding of the sport and can demonstrate adequate skills that are essential to being a successful athlete such as: dribbling, passing, shooting, and spatial awareness. Likewise, different drills such as: wall drills, box drops, ladders, hurdles, and cone drills will help develop sprinting mechanics, spatial awareness, speed, footwork, and change of direction. All the necessary skills in order to be successful at any given sport, not just exclusively soccer. In addition, when an athlete acquires adequate competency in their respective sport, it will also have a direct impact on their confidence on the field.
Confidence is something that requires time and effort for a lot of athletes. When it comes to sport psychology, confidence is a very misunderstood aspect of sports. As a coach, I hear parents say all of the time, “she/he played well, but they lacked confidence on the field and didn’t play to their full potential.” When I ask my athletes, especially the younger ones, why they aren’t confident in themselves they tell me that they are afraid to make mistakes, thus they hold back. Mistakes are essential in the development of athletes as they are the foundation for growth, however, mistakes also come at the cost of confidence. It’s a system of constant checks and balances that require effort both on and off the field. In addition, parents play a vital role in helping their children find their confidence by gracefully welcoming mistakes and using them as teaching moments. Mistakes should be seen as an opportunity to improve competence. For example, when mistakes are made and situations become familiar, athletes will start to make better and quicker decisions comfortably.
Furthermore, coaches have a very important role to play when it comes to developing an athlete's competence and confidence. It is our job to bridge the gap between the two. When a child learns how to do new and challenging things, it causes a shift in their mindset, and reminds them that they can do hard things and can do them well with a little practice and patience. Acquiring new skills in the gym has a direct impact on the mindset for an athlete in sports. For example, when introducing a box jump for the first time to a younger athlete, they look at me with fear. After we talk about the importance and execution (competency) of the box jump, I remind them that fear in new things is okay and even good, but we have to push beyond our comfort zones in order to move forward. It is for this reason that getting a child into a gym is pivotal to their growth and development both on and off the field.
Competency and confidence go hand in hand. Therefore, training both is important in bridging the gap between the two to help develop better and more well rounded athletes. Not only do these skills impact an athlete's respective sports, they are vital qualities to have as a child grows and goes through life. In addition, both parents and coaches play important roles in helping children navigate through different circumstances by welcoming mistakes, pushing comfort zones, trying new things, and training current skills and abilities. These things will help develop both competency and confidence that will last a child through their sporting days and their lifetime.
Author: Annemarie Alf
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