One of the most common competitive issues players report is a lack of confidence or belief.
This may occur after several losses, when working on a change in technique or game style, or when playing someone with superior past results.
A few years ago I tended to encourage players in these situations to just ‘trust’ the shot, or ‘believe’ in themselves.
This is typically not helpful however.
Unfortunately, confidence, trust, and belief can’t be created out of nowhere.
Therefore, when I did this I was likely asking players to do something that was not possible.
Now though, when players encounter the inevitable loss of confidence at some stage, instead of expecting them to change the natural internal states that show up in these circumstances, I would first encourage them to reflect on your lack of confidence, belief, or trust and make sure they know that this is normal based on the situation that they’re in.
I then encourage them to work on skills that help to instead commit to helpful actions without confidence. Committing to a helpful process despite a lack of confidence/trust/belief leads to better execution/outcomes when players have committed to the process for long enough.
Better execution/outcomes then results in more confidence/trust/belief over time.
So confidence and belief come after prolonged commitment to helpful actions without confidence/trust, not before.
Rather than telling players to ‘trust’ it, or ‘believe in themself’ when the situation they’re in does not naturally create these internal states…I believe it’s best to tell them to commit to helpful actions while recognizing that they will not have trust/confidence/belief in that moment.
This will result in more of these desirable states in the future.
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