Barriers in Sport: Managing Confidence

Published March 17, 2017

What is confidence? Or to feel confident?

“A feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities’.

“The innate belief that you have the skill/ability to overcome situations you are likely to face”

It affects everything we do in life. Our work, social life and day to day activities. I won’t cover all those topics in one blog post, to do so would be an example of over confidence!

PACE Boccia will begin their National Boccia League campaign this weekend, a pan-disability competition open to all disabled athletes. The PACE B team will compete against the Brimsdown Gotchas, with PACE A team facing them on the 4th March. This promises to be two exciting matches with the Brimsdown Gotchas always giving us an incredibly tough fixture.

As the captain of the PACE Boccia A team, my role is to get everyone in my team motivated and playing the best they can. I always encourage my team-mates to… “just enjoy the match’ and… “play the best you can.” I do this to take pressure off my team mates but also for myself.

This has worked well for me and the team, the PACE A team has finished top of the London League for two years running. Any athlete or team will tell you it’s really tough staying on top. There have been times when performance was slipping for some athletes but some encouragement or honesty has refocused them and changed their level of performance. TAs a result, we have been invited to the National League Finals, finishing 9th out of 15 teams on both occasions.

My style as captain is quite laid back, in keeping with my personality I suppose. I sometimes think however, could changing my style affect the team and their confidence? Positively or negatively? I’ll give you an example of it having a negative effect on an athlete: PACE A’s (my team) had a tough match at the National Finals last year. If we lost we wouldn’t have progressed to the next stage of the competition. We lost the game on the final end. It was very close. I can’t remember the score; I only do if we win! Anyway, after the match ended I said something like “well played” and “Don’t worry about it” to everyone and one of my teammates responded negatively to this. He obviously was upset about not winning, like we all were. He is very competitive and wants to win at every opportunity and from looking at it from his perspective, I could see why. Also, in my new role as a coach different people respond well, differently. It’s one of the hardest barriers I’m facing is to push people to get the best out of them and do it in a way that doesn’t damage their confidence.

Confidence isn’t consistent. It comes and goes for every sports person as I’ve discovered after many years playing Boccia. I’ve settled into a set routine, not wanting to affect my confidence. Now with my new coaching role, I’m out of my comfort zone and trying to build my confidence slowly but surely! I know I have the skills and ability to succeed in my role. I am now starting to develop self-assurance and PACE has been a big help supporting me and helping me improve.

This will be the third season as captain of the PACE A’s. I’ve grown in as a player and a person in that time. I know my teammates very well and vice versa. This season I want it to be the best yet for both teams. I want the team to take risks and try something out of their comfort zone, (within reason!)

One of the biggest challenges I’ve learnt as captain is managing the confidence of my teammates during a match. For example, asking someone to take a risky shot and it doesn’t pan out. This affects the whole team and me. I’ve often questioned my decisions in a match and weather they were the right ones.

I’ve better at it and now I’m at a point where I can trust my team to know the right shot to take. We are all quite confident after two successful seasons. It’s just about managing this momentum to be the best we can be.

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