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Is it just me or does there appear to be a mismatch between the confidence of some people and the ability they actually have? For some, the lack of confidence is based not on their ability but on their inability to cope with success. I spend a lot of time just talking people up to a point at which they are not worrying about their performance.
For them this is very debilitating and drains energy. It places them in a state of mind where they are constantly requiring support. This is also very time consuming and energy draining for the coach.
On the other hand, I am quite sure that we have all come across the person who has such an elevated idea of their capability that we are amazed that so many things go wrong because the sun is in the wrong place, the time of day is not what it should be, the equipment I have used for the last 5 years is different today and so on. In other words the lack of success is always the fault of something out of their compass.
How do we (you) cope with these extremes? I have to say that I am less concerned about the latter than the former, especially when the player lacking confidence has some real talent..
Now this is the controversial bit. I experience the lack of confidence in women more than in men. I also experience the overconfidence of men more than I do in women.
Ive seen lots of examples of what you describe. I think that there are different reasons for the lack of confidence though:
For example, I have had players that are coming into a physical contact game with no experience of this growing up so had never been hit/tackled. For them, it was a fear of this that held them back not ability. For example, I had one players that openly admitted he was joining the team just to prove to his father and brother that he could do it (both were keen rugby players). He avoided contact situations whenever he could. For him, it was about finding a way to get round this. To do so we found an environment he was comfortable in - he loved the kicking aspect of it - and put him in that. He became comfortable there, and he could make that his own. So when it came to a game, and he got hit, it didnt matter as he was in a comfort zone (boy did he get hit in his first game!!)
Having coached both men and women now, I do agree that there are differences. However, I dont think that women necessarily have a higher lack of confidence, it is just that I think that they have a greater desire to understand what they are doing than men. Men tend to be happier - if we are generalising - to just jump straight into things. This may give them the illusion of greater confidence (or over confidence). In the experience of the women's team I am in now, there is no shortage of confidence - they jumped straight into training sessions against men twice their size - but rather I think that there is that need to provide the context a bit more and to give that extra bit of structure to what you are doing.
Thank Simon for this thoughtful reply.
I recognise the scenario you describe especially the one about people who have not played a sport before. The lack of confidence is not entirely unexpected.
Has anyone found a way to short cut to supporting and alleviating this problem?
I think that first of all you need to identify what the fear is...and it might not be the most obvious one. It might be something that the player doesnt wish to really share, so they give "excuses".
For us, in a contact sport, it is usually the being hit part of it with people not used to it. American Football is more readily available now and they have all these images and the spectacle of the gmae and fall in love with it, but when it comes to the actual doing of it they can shy away. In these circumstances there are a couple of different tings to do
1) First of all be very specific on who you match them up with. There is no point matching up a complete rookie with a veteran linebacker twice his/her size. Sounds obvious but the drills need to be controlled as if you have a big group that are rotating through then this can happen naturally. So this need to be managed to ensure that the new player can build into it if they need to
2) The other way is to break things down and slowly build them up to a full contact situation. So if they have a fear of tackling then break the components down into very small staged elements
For example the shoulder tackling progressions here - https://usafootball.com/development-training/courses
This way you can build up their confidence that they know how to do the action and they get used to the body position etc...before going live.
but again, overall the key is to identify the fear - the true fear - behind it all so that you can work on that. Are they afraid to be hit? Are they afraid that they just dont know what to do? Are they afraid that they will let the team down - common among players new to a team sport in my experience. So they almost paralyse themselves as they just dont want to make a mistake. It isnt that they dont know what to do they are just worried that they might do it wrong and so affect the whole team, so they dont do anything and look to remove themselves from situations, which then looks like a lack of confidence. All of these would be approached differently.
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