Take from an article by Mike Candrea, written for ResponsibleSports.com
As we begin competition, the most demanding challenge of any coach is to develop and maintain confidence in his/her players. It is amazing how the confidence level of players reaches a healthy high during pre-season workouts and begins to become fragile as competition enters the picture.
Confidence has to be one of our top priorities. The understanding of the development of confidence can be a great asset to any group leader both on and off the athletic field. Confidence has a great influence in the success of an individual and the lack of it can most influence their failures.
Pre-season workouts are designed to prepare teams for upcoming competition and the challenges that lie ahead. Most of the time, as coaches, we do a very good job during workouts to create an atmosphere to encourage learning and skill development. It seems much easier to keep athletes positive and confident because we structure drills and praise to build confidence on the practice field. You can always find a way to make sure a hitter leaves the batting cage feeling good about their swing. The challenge that we all have is when the reality of competition sets in and we begin to face the built-in failures of the game. In reality, confidence and performance go hand in hand. The higher our levels of performance become, the more confident we become as players.
Confidence is key for creating an atmosphere of learning and building a youth athlete's confidence levels, on and off the field. Responsible Sports, along with our partner, Positive Coaching Alliance, offers an entire section on this subject, Coaching Beyond the X's and O's , for coaches to use as a teaching resource. The best coaches build opportunities for character education into their program, creating, recognizing and capitalizing on teachable moments. Go to ResponsibleSports.com to learn more
The primary job of any good leader is to give your athletes the necessary tools and skills to handle any situation that will come their way during the season. Confidence is nothing more than believing that your ability is equal to or greater than what is demanded by the situation and/or task. If you are prepared to perform well in the situation, chances are you will. You must also understand the complexities that are involved in the game of softball. No one sets failure as a goal, but failure is a statistical probability/reality in the game of softball. A player needs to face that possibility and can't be afraid to fail. Coaches must be very careful in handling this process. A lack of encouragement and understanding by their leader will cause a player to never find that key ingredient of confidence. The road to confidence is a journey that takes small steps in the right direction. Your ability as a coach to understand this process and play a vital role in allowing the athlete to perform aggressively without worry, will pay large dividends to your athlete and your program in the long run.
The greatest obstacle I see in today's athlete is the fear of embarrassment. The embarrassment of going 0-3 or making an error; fear of humiliation from booing fans and lost games; fear of a father's wrath or a coaches' displeasure. The bottom line to all of this is that no one can make us feel as if we're failures without our own consent. Confident people never consent. They approach risky situations as a challenge. We must remind ourselves that everyone experiences fear - athletes, singers, corporate executives, mountain climbers. The successful performers don't prevent fear. They control it rather than being controlled by it.
Confidence is simply a choice. Confidence is choosing to focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses. Confidence is stressing a positive approach that will allow players to make mistakes and grow from their experiences. Always remember, we are preparing these young ladies for a much bigger game than softball - the game of life!
All things current and DBGS!