Proven Strategies to Build Self-Confidence in Sports

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You can not win big games and competitions without self-confidence. In this post, we show, how working on your self-confidence can improve your performance.
cyclist finishing the race

There’s always one special but crucial secret ingredient in every professional and amateur athlete’s life that has a key role in their success story.

Self-confidence is something that we often forget to mention.

But yet, it is one of the most important parts of a journey to becoming a successful athlete.

Let’s dive in!

What is self-confidence?

Muhammad Ali has once said – “I don’t think it’s bragging to say I’m something special”.

This is something every athlete, either professional or amateur, should live and swear by!

Self-confidence means that every task and goal an athlete has decided to undertake, he will strongly believe in the task, himself, and stay positive, confident, and willful throughout the whole process. 

Self-confidence is commonly defined as this reassuring feeling, that you as an athlete, are equal to the task at hand.

The feeling that assures and reminds you, that you will be successful and that there shouldn’t be any doubts about the outcome.

Of course, you mustn’t confuse self-confidence with arrogance, there is an important difference between them!

A self-confident athlete will stay humble and take criticism as a part of the learning process in order to become an even more successful and self-confident athlete. 

Also, success itself and self-confidence have a direct link between each other since success and positive results engineer further self-confidence, and vice-versa!

This is why spectators love and admire those successful athletes, who have this strong sense of self-confidence and yet stay humble and grounded while talking about it. 

History has shown that there is a direct link between successful performance and self-confidence. How you feel will most definitely influence how you perform during your practice or competition.

Positive mental health will keep you working hard and a strong sense of self-confidence will motivate you to attempt and accomplish the impossible.

Thanks to self-confidence a tennis performer may all of a sudden start to gain belief having to be 2 sets down. A batter in cricket may start scoring, runs freely after a few tricky spells. Or in football after being 0-2 goals behind, suddenly you can score and win the game with 4-2 ahead.

These are just a few examples that we can use where self-confidence can be the difference between success and failure.

What can affect your self-confidence?

Self-confidence, or lack of it, can affect or hinder an athlete’s performance.

Sometimes, a young athlete, who is just starting out, can have limiting beliefs about himself that will put a hard ceiling on his performance.

Sometimes, he can even have this sense or a feeling of an imposter that will never make him feel good enough.

All those cases will stop you from being great and living up to your true potential.

Limiting beliefs

The concept of a “glass ceiling” is often one of the cases why an athlete is stuck in a certain stage and can’t evolve or grow further.

Some athletes supposedly have a higher glass ceiling that lets them climb to the sky, while for others, it’s lower. 


As a starting athlete, you can often hear this feedback in the media or even from the competitors, that you are not good enough.

The more you achieve and the more successful you get, the more the public starts to demand and expect greater outcomes from you.

You will always feel like you need to be pitch-perfect to excel. Which in result, will put even more pressure on you as a person and an athlete. 

Imposter syndrome

Professional athletes who have tasted success in large doses, have most likely also experienced an imposter’s syndrome.

You literally feel the quilt of an imposter, hence the name.

For example, in interviews, you’ll want to avoid your true feelings being revealed to the public. They might get the feeling that in reality, you’re simply a fraud. This will most certainly drain your self-confidence. 

How to build self-confidence?

Finding self-confidence and holding on to the feeling resembles a lot to a rollercoaster ride in the biggest amusement park.

There are so many things that may affect your confidence levels and sometimes they are not even up to you to have control of.

You should always remember that self-confidence is not a matter of fate. There is so much that you can do, to become more confident and successful!

There is always someone who believes in you

Remember that there is always this one person who believes in you and your performance.

Whether it’s your dad, girlfriend, coach, or even some stranger who is cheering for you.

When you are doubting yourself, don’t hesitate to ask for reassurance from them!

Positive thoughts only

Thinking positively leads to a better mind and body balance.

It will help the neural pathways within the mind to operate with clarity and purpose. This positiveness can be developed by assessing each day (training) and game/competition sessions.

For example, a basketball player can look at the basket before taking the final and most important shot and use positive self-talk to guide them when carrying out the action.

Take it to step by step

Make sure that you understand and believe that the task can really be done.

Take it to step by step and have a clear action plan.

Remember that Rome was not built in a day, so keep your cool and don’t rush your progress.

Control the controllable

Having control over the things that you actually can control, will provide you a sense of focus and directive.

Of course, you should keep in mind that there are so many things that are not up to you like, what other people are thinking/saying or doing.

But you can still control what you are achieving.

For example, in team games, there is no need to get involved with the mind games that sometimes are played in public.

Mental preparation

Nowadays, there are many ways on how to prepare yourself for an important game or competition mentally.

Athletes can practice mindfulness, imagery, reflective thinking, positive self-talk, goal setting, meditation, and concentration training amongst others.

One should find a strategy that works for them and then use this to provide that inner desire to build self- confidence. 


If an athlete will analyze and understand what he is capable of in reality, in return he will have higher self-confidence in his future competitions.

Through self-evaluation, an athlete can become even more effective at building self-confidence.

Building your own level of evaluation will enable you to become critical. But it also enables you to build on this critique to create higher levels of confidence. 


As an athlete, you will always be responsible for how you feel and how confident you will be during your next competition.

The good news is, as your self-confidence develops – your performance will improve significantly as well!

Next time you are feeling low, practice the following steps to understand why it has happened and how could you build it back up!

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