Building Self-Confidence in Athletes

Building Self-Confidence in Athletes

How to Build Confidence

1. Focus on performance accomplishments:

Successful behaviour increases confidence and leads to further successful behaviour. Manipulate situations in practice to allow sense of accomplishment.

Eg. simulate a high-pressure, match type situation in training – if athlete performing successfully in the drill, then continue beyond prescribed reps to build confidence in task

2. Acting Confident:

The more confident an athlete acts, the more likely they are to be confident – as thoughts, feelings and behaviours are interrelated

  1. Important to display confidence during competition (even after a mistake/error)
  2. Keep positive posture and demeanor

3.Responding with Confidence:

ACT – Accept, Centre, Think (Vealey and Vernau, 2013)

Accept: Accept feelings associated with poor performance or mistake. Avoid suppression Centre: Physically centre – confident posture and deep breathing
Think: Use self-talk; focus on controllable aspects; avoid judgmental thoughts

4. Use Imagery:

to Overcome a difficult task or new task
Visualising past successes to ingrain confidence

5.Use Goal Mapping:

Goal map is a personalised plan for an athlete containing goal types and strategies Self-regulatory means to enhance confidence

6. Optimizing Physical Conditioning and Training:

By ensuring athletes are in optimum condition, it can provide confidence that their skill based performance won’t be hinderd by a lack of endurance, strength, flexibility etc.


Being prepared gives athlete’s confidence that you have done everything possible to ensure success. Having alternative strategies (like use imagery to prepare for unknown situations) can provide confidence that they can perform/succeed even if they need to adjust to new circumstances.

8.Fostering Social Climate:

Social climate can affect an athlete’s confidence. Some areas of social climate which may affect athletes include leadership style, social support network and social feedback.

Coaches can help structure these areas to maximise athlete’s feelings of self-confidence.

However, it needs to be stressed that confidence should be attributed to stable internal factors.