Regardless of the sport we coach, we have all experienced the situation where our teams have lost games that we expected to win.
In some cases, these losses were the result of the other team playing their best game of the season and being in the zone. Other times, however, the loss may be the result of our team being a little arrogant, whereby they are a little full of themselves. We look down on the other team because it has a win-loss record that is not very good. Or, we assume that since we have always beat them in the past, we should win by just showing up. Or we don’t see the strengths of our competitors and minimize their abilities.
There is no question that we want our players to think positively about themselves and have a strong belief in their own abilities. However, it is important to understand the differences between arrogance and confidence.
An arrogant person’s sense of himself/herself depends on thinking less of someone else. Arrogance emerges when ability (or perceived ability) is used to look down on others and often manifests itself as players who view themselves as superior.
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Confident players feel competent about what they can achieve from the inside out. They focus on what they have control over and maximize the use of their talents. They focus on doing things the best they can, and get validation from the inside because they have done what they can do to succeed. They may seek external validation, but their sense of their ability does not depend on an external source. Their strength comes from within. They acknowledge mistakes and shortcomings.
Confident players and teams acknowledge the efforts of their opponents and seek to create a positive image of their opponents. Players with confidence are equipped to overcome fear and uncertainty. Moreover, they have a more positive and optimistic vision.
As coaches, we have many opportunities to model confident behavior. Encourage your players to focus on their abilities and what they can control. Regardless of the opponent, focus needs to be on player improvement and contributing to the quality of the team. Help your players strive for their own improvement at every opportunity and to avoid comparison to others. Acknowledge all your players for their strengths and what they bring to the team, as well as making them aware of their weaknesses and how to deal with them. Help them see their potential, but not at the expense of the other team. Respect every team whom you play.
Respect is given through your best effort and playing the best you can -- regardless of whom you are playing.