Confidence can be a double edged sword. Like the tale of Goldilocks, an athlete’s dose must be just right; otherwise it erodes his or her performance. More importantly, an athlete’s confidence impacts attitude, work ethic, and so much more.
The Confidence Continuum
Over the years I’ve realized that confidence exists on a continuum. On one end is a complete absence of confidence, where an athlete has little to no belief in his or her ability. On the opposite end lies arrogance, where an athlete has an unwarranted invincibility when it comes to his or her sport.
As you’d expect, neither are healthy or helpful. However, I believe this continuum is often why confidence is misunderstood by athletes, coaches, and sport parents alike.
No one denies the impact confidence has on performance. Yet, in recent weeks I have had several conversations circling around the various misconceptions of confidence. Perhaps you share similar questions and concerns.
5 Differences Between Confident & Arrogant Athletes
An athlete’s position on the Confidence Continuum helps us understand more about his or her behaviors and motivations regarding the sport. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. One is productive, while the other is counterproductive.
You are probably familiar with the risks of arrogance (or over-confidence). However, you many not have connected it to common challenges coaches face with their athletes.
You see, how athletes views themselves determines how they view five other aspects of their sport.
Let’s explore five ways arrogant and confident athletes differ:
Arrogant athletes view their weaknesses as blemishes to be concealed. They will go out of their way to hide and cover them up for fear of being seen as lesser.
Confident athletes view their weaknesses as opportunities to learn and grow.
Arrogant athletes view feedback as an assault on their abilities at worst, and unnecessary at best. Either way the athlete becomes defensive and your feedback is dismissed.
Confident athletes crave feedback, seeking any and all information which may prove useful in elevating their game to a new level.
Arrogant athletes view opponents as lesser than themselves, unworthy of respect, often resulting in poor preparation.
Confident athletes view opponents as an adversary, worthy of respect and diligent preparation.
4. Wins and Losses
Arrogant athletes view wins and losses as evidence to confirm or deny their superiority. In some cases, athletes may make excuses (i.e., didn’t try my best, wasn’t feeling good, cite a minor injury) as to why they didn’t win or perform well.
Confident athletes view wins and losses as an outcome they don’t have full control of. Instead, they focus on what they can control, the process, and treat the outcomes as learning opportunities.
Arrogant athletes tend toward a Fixed Mindset, believing their abilities are set in stone and they must continually defend them at all costs. Every chip to their ego is a blow to their identity.
Confident athletes tend toward a Growth Mindset, believing their abilities are malleable, with no defined ceiling. They continue to push themselves, fearlessly probing the far reaches of their abilities to chart new waters. Every piece of data is seen as informative and constructive to the process of getting better everyday.
If you want to build confidence, not arrogance, in your athletes check out my free Confidence Playbook: A Coach’s Guide.
Keep Your Athletes from Crossing the Arrogance Line
You probably witness athletes being defensive about feedback, making excuses, and failing to prepare for every opponent. What you may have overlooked, as I once did, is the connection to confidence. Educate your players about The Confidence Continuum and keep them from crossing the line into arrogance.