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Sports Psychology, Self-Confidence And Top Athletes

Posted by: Dr. Granat on March 25, 2009

Jap P. Granat, Ph.D.
Psychotherapist, Founder,

To perform to their fullest potential, athletes need to find the right level of self confidence. During the last twenty years, I have counseled athletes with varying degrees of confidence.

Frequently, athletes are lacking in confidence when they come to see me. We build them up through counseling, new training regimes, new competing schedules and the development of a more positive attitude. The process sometimes includes training in hypnosis, self-hypnosis and visualization. Sometimes, we change coaches and change the venues where the athlete is competing. Some time ago, I counseled a tennis player who was being intimidated by large crowds. When we moved her to smaller competitions, she started winning and rediscovered her self-confidence and her game. A few months later, she was able to handle large numbers of spectators without being rattled. Recently, I coached a golfer who was quite small in stature. Even though he could hit the ball as long as most taller golfers, he was intimidated by the competition. Once he overcame this fear, he began to shoot lower scores and to win more events.

Occasionally, athletes are too confident or grandiose. They have an exaggerated perception of their abilities. I recently counseled a man who felt he could beat Tiger Woods. I asked him how many times he would beat him if he played him one hundred times in a head to head match. He said he would beat him every time. As I got to know this patient, I realized and he realized that this grandiosity was a defense mechanism for some deep seated feelings of inadequacy. Over time, I helped him to develop a realistic level of self-confidence which would allow him to play with comfort and to perform quite well. He no longer needed his boastfulness to believe in himself.

Other athletes are quite humble about their abilities. The key where self-confidence is concerned is finding the level of confidence which allows the athlete to play well consistently. I don’t want the athlete to be too high or too low. It often takes a little time to find the right level for each individual.

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