#11: Real vs Fake Confidence: What does your daughter have?

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Here’s a truth you need to know: Not all confidence is created equal.

We all want it… Confidence. It’s what we truly desire for our athlete daughters, not only on the court/field, but in life. 

The confidence to play to potential. To bounce back from mistakes. To play with tenacity. To perform consistently. 

But, not all confidence is created equal and not all confidence gives the results we desire.

In my 10 years of coaching female athletes, I’ve seen a difference in the type of confidence that players exude on and off the court. 

Simply put, it’s either:

Fake vs Real
Superficial vs Deep
Fleeting vs Lasting

So, how do we know which type of confidence that our female athletes are cultivating? And how do we ensure that they are working towards real, deep and lasting confidence? 

As a mom or coach of a female athlete, here’s what you need to know…

Not All Confidence Is Created Equal

Here’s a simple analogy to paint the picture. Imagine you have two bowls of food in front of you. One bowl is filled with candy, and the other bowl is filled with fibrous vegetables. 

If you eat either one of the bowls, you will be full. However, basic nutritional evidence tells us that if we ate the bowl of candy, we would feel full and good for a little bit before crashing and running out of steam. 

Eat the bowl full of vegetables and you’ll be satiated longer without the crash and burn. 

The same goes with confidence. 

Fake, superficial, and fleeting confidence is like filling up on candy. It feels really good in the moment. Athletes will get a rush and feel on top of the world for a little bit. Only to crash and be left feeling empty and looking for the next fix. 

Real, deep, and lasting confidence is like filling up on the fibrous vegetables. When athletes cultivate this type of confidence, they don’t fluctuate up and down. Their confidence is sustainable and can carry them through whatever is thrown at them. 

Fake vs #RealConfidence: Spotting the Difference

There are a few tell-tale signs of confidence that won’t last. “Candy” confidence that feels really good in the moment, but doesn’t last long includes…

1. Confidence based on outcomes

When athletes rely on their performance and the outcome of matches to determine their confidence, they will always be on a roller coaster. 

“Outcomes” – wins/losses, stats, and performance – are a part of an athlete’s experience and can provide data to adjust moving forward. However, if athletes are placing all the emphasis on outcomes as the measure of how confident they feel, they will always be up and down with the score. 

Outcomes are reliant on so many factors besides just the player. Using them to fuel up is like eating candy. Athletes will feel confident for a moment, then crash with the next (inevitable) loss or poor performance. 

Turn this into #RealConfidence: To cultivate #RealConfidence, athletes need to set and monitor progress based on process goals vs outcome goals. The process is what leads to the outcome: hustling hard for every play, getting available for every set, connecting with teammates between plays. 

These things, based on effort, attitude, mindset, and behavior, are 100% in the athlete’s control and will allow them to feel confident no matter what the outcome. 

2. Confidence that is reliant on praise

This one is tough! We want to praise our athletes and make them feel good. However, if athletes are relying on praise and external validation to build their internal confidence, they will always be at the mercy of other people rather than themselves. 

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t recognize your athlete’s accomplishments. However, superficial praise based on outcomes and performance alone will leave them only wanting and needing more of it to feel confident. 

Praise based on performance can also lead to unhealthy expectations that athletes put on themselves to gain the approval of those giving praise. 

Turn this into #RealConfidence: Cultivate #RealConfidence by recognizing and pointing out things that are in your athlete’s control: Attitude, effort, preparation, and behavior. 

Rather than, “You had a great game, you scored 20 points!” 

Saying something like “I noticed you were hustling every play and were a great teammate! You should be proud of yourself!” (Regardless if the outcome was a win or loss!)

Also, asking the athlete herself what she’s proud of also cultivates lasting confidence as she recognizes her own effort and can then repeat it. 

3. “Fake it ‘till you make it” confidence

We’ve all heard the phrase… “fake it ‘till you make it!” It sounds good, and that it actually might work. Not feeling confident? Just fake it and eventually it will come!

But, “fake it ‘till you make it” is the perfect example of the superficial confidence we want to avoid. 

Why? Because it doesn’t last. It might work in the moment, but at its core, this principle cannot help athletes develop true, lasting confidence. 

We can’t fake…

-Proper preparation
-Intentional self-talk 
-The ability to come back from mistakes (if we don’t have the skills to do so)

All things athletes need in order to have real, authentic confidence on the court/field and in life. 

“Fake it ‘till you make it” is candy confidence. It will fill athletes momentarily, but ultimately will leave them crashing and needing more. 

Turn this into #RealConfidence: To develop #RealConfidence, athletes need to hone in on their preparation and self-talk. 

Creating pre-competition routines for themselves and being as prepared as possible through their training and practice leading up to competition or big moments instills confidence. 

Having awareness of self-talk and skills to change destructive self-talk into words of empowerment that athletes can use is key to authentic confidence. 

There you have it. Fake vs Real Confidence…how to spot the difference and cultivate deep, lasting, and true confidence from the inside out. 

Helpful Links:

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