Recently I’ve been receiving e-mails from athletes confiding in me that they have lost their self-confidence. They were doing so well and then it seems like they can’t do anything correctly on the basketball court. They wonder, “What went wrong?,” “How can this happen when I was doing so well?”
First of all, I’m here to tell you this happens to EVERYONE! All the greatest athletes in the world have felt this way at some point in their lives. “Slumps” are a normal part of athletics. The key is how you handle that slump and what steps you take to get yourself out of it! Below I’ve outlined some steps to take in order to get out of a slump and build your self-confidence back. Whether you’re worried about making a team, or just feel like you’re in a slump with your practicing — applying these steps will help you regain that self-confidence and get you back on track.
1) Recognize that ALL athletes have slumps. If you understand that this is a part of being an athlete, you won’t think, “Something’s wrong with me.”
2) You can grow strength and confidence out of physical hardship, frustration, deprivation and failure. Recognize these uncomfortable situations for the CONFIDENCE-DEVELOPING opportunities they are and seize them. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”
3) Physical Preparation. The foundation of confidence is neither glamorous nor mysterious. It’s boring, grueling, dirty, and monotonous. It hurts and it is very lonely. It requires constant sacrifice. If you want to feel like champion, then start training like one. Your secret to self-confidence is a four letter word: WORK.
4) Strengthen Your Weaknesses. Everyone loves to practice something they are good at. Because we succeed. The true test of a person’s character is if they work on their weaknesses. For instance, if you are really good at dribbling with your right hand and terrible at dribbling with your left hand, start practicing dribbling with that left hand. Before you know it, you’ll build confidence in using that left hand.
5) Set Up Your Training Environment to Boost Self-Confidence. Motivational signs should be up in your bedroom, reminding you to stay focused and help keep you motivated. My book, Off The Rim: Thoughts and Observations of the Game, was written for this purpose. Just reminding and reinforcing all the positive things about basketball. If you have a favorite saying or poem, hang it up in your bedroom or in your locker. Read it every night. Surround yourself with positive things!
6) Catch Yourself Doing Things Right. Keep track of all the gains you’ve made in your journey toward your ultimate goal. By focusing on the things you’re doing right, instead of dwelling on the things you’re doing wrong, you will begin to see that you have, AND are making progress.
*Some information excerpted from Sports Slump Busting by Alan S. Goldberg