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Sports Psychology: Competitive Self-Confidence Under Pressure

Self-confidence is the number one mental skill that your young athlete must possess to be successful in sports and life! Self-doubt is the number one mental barrier that blocks athletes from that success.

Having high levels of confidence is so important that I spend most of my time teaching students how to develop and harnesses the power of confidence.

I recently received an email from a concerned sports parent about her son “folding” under the pressure of big games. She said, “In big games, he seems to lose confidence too easily and not perform well, but in practice looks like a million bucks.”

This is a very common challenge that I help athletes overcome, and is highly related to confidence (or what I call 'competitive confidence'). In my book, there is a big difference between practice self-confidence and competitive self-confidence.

Anyone can feel confident and look great in practice, but the challenge is having the same high level of confidence in competition or big games, and performing well in these situations.
At any one time, young athletes either think of ways to boost confidence or hurt confidence. My approach is to help athletes improve their thinking so they can feel more confident *and* help them identify and discard thoughts or beliefs that undermine confidence.

Some athletes are blessed with high levels of confidence in their abilities and it shows in competition.

You might be the most positive sports parent in the world, but in spite of your positive parenting, your son or daughter may hold on to doubts and negative self-labels (i.e., ”I choke in big games.') that will severely limit his or her performance.

About the Author: Want to learn simple, proven mental toughness skills that you can apply to competition? Grab my free online mental training newsletter, Sports Insights Magazine - for athletes, coaches, and sports parents:
Dr. Patrick Cohn is a master mental game coach who work with professional and amateur athletes, sports parents, and teams of all levels. Visit for more information.

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