30 second time outs

Friday, July 03, 2009

Mindset and Developing Confidence

A players confidence, generally, comes from experiencing REPEATED SUCCESS. This success begins in practice. When a player has worked in practice enough, and done all that she can, she should KNOW that she has prepared enough to play, and that's what's really important. Too often success tends to be defined by results and the scoreboard. The great basketball coach John Wooden uses the definition of success as "Peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable." In much the same way, at Positive Coaching Alliance we strive to redefine and reinforce a more complete definition of "Winning" or success.

The traditional definition of a winner is the person or team that does the best on the scoreboard. Even a team that is outplayed in every facet of a game but comes away with more points on the scoreboard is declared the winner. Whereas the scoreboard definition is concerned with results over which no one has complete control, what we call Mastery focuses on effort over which one almost always has control. The scoreboard framework focuses on comparisons with others, and it spawns counter-productive thinking. "Am I better than she is?" "Is she better than me?" "Are we going to win? Lose?" These are issues over which an athlete has no immediate control and tends to cause anxiety.

The Mastery focus, instead, falls on learning and improvement. It fosters this important line of thinking: "How hard am I trying? How much of myself am I giving? I may not be able to control whether I am better than someone else or whether I can win the game, but I can control whether I continue to learn and improve." This mental framework, which takes work to develop, gives the athlete a sense of mastery, bolsters self-confidence and, as a by-product, improves performance. What is important to know is that a focus on mastery tends to decrease anxiety and increase self-confidence. When athletes experience less anxiety, they tend to experience more joy in sports. And when self-confidence increases some very good things happen.

As parents we can set an example with our conversations. Have a good attitude and it may be contagious. Continue to believe in your daughter and she may believe in herself. There are some great Parent Tips and Tools on our website at http://www.positivecoach.org. Some recommended reading would be a book titled "Mindset" by PCA Advisory Board Member Carol Dwek. Some players may have developed a "fixed" mindset, that thinks performance is based on talent or whether we are "on" that day - and either we "have it" or we don't. What is preferable is if we can transition that to a "Growth" mindset that looks at obstacles as challenges to overcome.

The most important aspect of competition is to continue to have fun in the process. Foster that fun. If a player isn't having fun they tend not to work as diligently as they could to really improve. Make sure she has a GREAT time, and continues to work as hard as she has. With a Mastery focus and a Growth mindset she will know that she has given her all, to be all that she can be, and that there are no problems that she can't work to overcome. Then she'll have CONFIDENCE for sure!

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