Most of the time we think of training as mainly a physical process. It’s something we do to develop a skill or quality like speed or strength or passing and shooting. There’s another aspect we often overlook or undervalue. Preparation and training contribute mentally as well because they give us confidence.
A source of great anxiety for a lot of high school players going on to college is the fitness test that they get in their packet from their new school. While we don’t “train to the test” we will run it with players regularly to help them see how their work is paying off. It may not be an ideal part of our training program but by the time they head to their teams they have already demonstrated repeatedly they can meet the standard. That allows them to show up with confidence and focus on their game rather than the test.
We work on deceleration and stopping as well as speed and acceleration because when a player has confidence in their brakes, they can play faster, go harder and put more pressure on their opponent. Without that confidence they may pull up too quickly, afraid to over run, leaving their opponent with more time and space.
A Bigger Kind Of Confidence – Part of the value in assessments and training logs lies in helping a player track their own growth and development. With time to reflect, they come to have confidence in their ability to accomplish results over time, to make changes and develop what Stanford Psychologist and Professor Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset. That mindset is more important in the long run than any physical quality. When they hit a plateau or struggle with something new they can draw on the confidence they’ve developed in themselves and in the process of training. Focus, intentional work and consistency have helped them thus far and will help them with new challenges as well.
Slowly, in little ways, over time, good training and the right atmosphere can help us develop not only the physical qualities we need to compete but the confidence in our capacity to grow that will serve us whenever we need it.
In his Wheel of Excellence model, sports psychologist Terry Orlicki says, “Belief in yourself and confidence in your capacity allows you to extend your limits, create your own opportunities and push through performance barriers. Where there is unwavering belief in your capacity to carry out a mission and absolute connection with your performance, doors are opened to excellence.”
This week as we wrap up our fall training with assessments we will ask our young players to notice their progress, look back at the effort they have put in and begin to see that those doors can open little by little, for all of us.