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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Zajdel, PhD

Where Is Your Athletic Confidence Coming From?

Updated: Jan 2

Confidence is key for peak performance, but have you ever stopped to ponder where that unwavering self-assurance really comes from? Let’s break sources of confidence into two categories – internal (i.e., a source from inside of you) and external (i.e., a source from outside of you).




Preparation and Training

Knowing that you've put in the hours, sweat, and dedication builds a solid foundation. The more you've honed your skills and conditioned your body, the more confident you naturally feel stepping onto the field or court.


Past Successes

Reflecting on past successes can be a powerful source of confidence. Recalling moments when you conquered challenges or achieved personal bests serves as a reminder of your capabilities. Each success becomes a building block for your confidence in future endeavors.


Positive Self-Talk

The conversations you have with yourself matter. Replace self-doubt with affirmations, remind yourself of your strengths, and visualize success. This internal dialogue shapes your mindset and fuels your confidence.


Mental Flexibility

Confidence often stems from mental flexibility—the ability to navigate adversity, setbacks, and pressure situations. Embracing challenges as opportunities for growth and staying resilient in the face of difficulties contribute to a stable sense of confidence.


Goal Achievement

Setting and achieving goals is a powerful confidence booster. Whether it's hitting a specific performance milestone or mastering a new skill, each accomplishment reinforces your belief in your capabilities.


Mind-Body Connection

Understanding the mind-body connection is crucial. Athletes who recognize how their thoughts and emotions influence their physical performance can harness this connection to bolster confidence. Positive thoughts translate into powerful physical actions.


Game Preparation

The meticulous preparation leading up to a game instills confidence. From studying opponents to formulating strategies, the more prepared you are, the more confident you feel walking onto the playing field.


Intrinsic Motivation

Confidence is intrinsically tied to motivation. Athletes driven by a deep internal desire to succeed, improve, and push their own limits often possess a profound sense of confidence rooted in their personal aspirations.


Living Out Your Values

You may value having fun, being a good teammate, or putting forth your best effort. Often, living by these values can increase confidence and help you feel good about each performance opportunity, regardless of any statistics. 




Approval and Praise from Others

Most people feel better about their performance when coaches, teammates, friends, and family notice their successes. Compliments from others can boost confidence.


Wins and Statistics

Many athletes pay attention to their win and loss record and other statistical data to help them understand their performance. Confidence can come from liking the numbers you see.  


Current Performance

Most athletes feel confident when they are consistently performing well. Being in a hot streak can make you feel assured that you will continue to perform at your best.


Coach and Team Support

A supportive coach and team environment can do wonders for an athlete's confidence. Knowing that your coach believes in your abilities and having a team that fosters camaraderie creates a positive atmosphere that bolsters individual and collective confidence.


Support System

Having a reliable support system, both within and outside of the sports arena, contributes to confidence. Knowing that friends, family, and teammates have your back provides a sense of security that boosts overall self-assurance.



Take some time to reflect on your own sources of confidence; are they mostly internal, external, or a combination of both? In addition, which sources of confidence do you have control over and which are outside of your control?


Overall, it is helpful to have a variety of both internal and external sources of confidence. As the saying goes, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.


For example, if internally it is difficult to feel confident one day, your teammates or coaches can help prop you up. On the other hand, others may not always know you need a confidence boost or how to support you so it’s best to rely on your internal sources of confidence.


In the end, it’s not just about stepping onto the field; it's about knowing, deep down, that you've got what it takes to perform your best.

Want to work with a sport psychologist to identify where your athletic confidence is coming from and make some tweaks?


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