Sports in Society

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Sports in Society

Laura Ann Giraldi Sports in Society Sports Psychology: Self -- Confidence in Sport Activity November 21, 1996

(1)
Sports Psychology is one of the most up and coming sciences of the present time. This practice focuses on training athletes to use their mental capacities along with their physical talent to reach what is known as peak performance. Sports Psychologists analyze the performance of athletes and use motivational, cognitive, and behavioral principles to teach them peak performance levels. Sixty to ninety percent of success in sports is due to mental factors and psychological mastery. Sensing the importance of mental training in recent years, scientists have developed mental training programs. These programs all vary in technique, however, they all include skills focused on mastering the art of self-confidence. There are considerable amounts of evidence in sports literature that there is a direct correlation between self- confidence and peak performance.

Self-confidence exists in all walks of life. It is defined as: the strong relationships between a person's thoughts, feelings, and behavior which if motivated correctly can help an individual excel with confidence in anything they try to do. Most of the time self-confidence is viewed in accordance with how well an athlete performs at a certain sport activity. To examine this further one must look at how an athlete prepares themselves before the task in order to understand how their self-confidence reigns so high when it comes time for them to actually compete. An athlete must trust what enables them to build their self-confidence.

(2) To start, an athlete needs to know themselves and what their limitations are. Through personal experience an athlete will know what they are capable of doing, and also what challenges them. From such personal experiences an athlete can recall past success as well as past failures. Therefore, an athlete must strive off that knowledge of past success to reassure themselves that they have done it once, and that they can do it again.

All is easier said then done. Building self-confidence can be one of the hardest things an athlete has to do. This involves a great deal of mental awareness and self-discipline. For it could take only one negative experience to destroy an athlete's ego. This is when the process of filtering comes into play. Filtering involves using negative experience in a positive way. More specifically an athlete must look at such experiences carefully and learn from them. They must not focus on the bad, but how it can help them in the future. For example, a basketball player who missed a foul shot that could have won the game must not view the experience as I am a loser; he must say "My foul shooting needs a little help." In turn, this athlete should take a little time before and after practice to drill this technique. By doing this he is not focusing on the negative he is building towards a positive. This technique is very important to the athlete who is looking to strive for peak performance. For an athlete who dwells on the negative aspects

(3) of their performance will never appreciate or accentuate their positive aspects. This in the long run will not allow them to develop to their full potential.
A second technique in gaining self-confidence is a skill called self- talk. This is indeed a skill. This should be done when the athlete is spending quiet time with themselves. This is the time when an athlete must throw out all modest tendencies and falsehoods. This is a time when the athlete must be completely honest with themselves and their performance. This is also the time when the athlete must allow themselves to be their own best friend. These self- talks should be very detailed and taken seriously. They should include statements about past success, hard work, team cohesion, uniqueness, talent, endurance, persistence, and determination. This list may vary greatly,...
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