SELF-CONFIDENCE AND SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Successful Performance, Verbal persuasion

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Sport Psychology (PSY407)
Lesson 02
Athletes who are highly motivated tend to be very self-confident about their abilities. Yet, a distinction
must be made between global self-confidence and situation-specific self-confidence.
Global confidence is more of a personality trait or disposition. Global self is an important personality
characteristic that facilitates daily living. It can be instrumental in encouraging a young person to try
new things, but it is not the same as believing that you can succeed at a specific task. Situation-specific
confidence is the confidence one shows in performing a particular task. For example, a cricket player
may have high level of self-confidence in batting, but a low level of self-confidence in fielding.
Models of Self-Confidence
The three models of self-confidence will be discussed. These include:
Bandura's Self-Efficacy Theory
Harter's Competence Motivation, Sport Confidence Theory
Vealey's Sports-Specific Model Of Sports Confidence
Bandura's Theory of Self-Efficacy (1997)
Bandura (1997) defines self-efficacy as `beliefs in one's capabilities to organize and execute the course
of action required to produce given attainments". As such, self-efficacy is a form of situation-specified
Self-efficacy is the critical component of what Bandura refers to as social cognitive theory. In order for
self-efficacy to develop, the individual must believe that she is in control and that the acts she
performed were performed intentionally. The power and will to originate a course of action is the key
feature of personal agency. Now for example if a person believes she is in control and that she has the
power to produce specific results, she will be motivated to try to make things happen.
Now if an athlete perceives or believes that she can influence for good the outcome of a contest, she
will eagerly enter into the competition. Thus, an efficacious athlete is a motivated athlete. The athlete is
motivated to work hard to ensure success because she believes that she can succeed.
Bandura proposes four fundamental elements effective in developing self-efficacy. Each of these
elements is critical in understanding how an athlete can develop self-efficacy and self-confidence.
Bandura's four fundamental elements in developing self-efficacy
1. Successful Performance
In successful performance the athlete must experience success in order for self-efficacy to develop.
With a difficult task, this is an unrealistic expectation, so the coach or teacher must ensure success by
initially reducing the difficulty the difficulty of the task. An example of this can be found in tennis and
volleyball instructions. A beginner may not be able to successfully serve volleyball across the net on a
regulation court, but when the coach encourages the athlete to step into the court several meters, it can
be accomplished.
Sport Psychology (PSY407)
2. Vicarious Experience
Beginning athletes can experience success through models. In learning a new skill the learner needs a template
or model to copy. This can be provided by the instructor, a skilled teammate, or a film or video of a skilled
An important component of Bandura's theory is the concept of participatory modeling. In participatory
modeling, the learner first observes a model perform a task. Then the instructor or model assists the subject in
successfully performing the task. The vicarious experience of success will provide a good foundation for the
experience of success in a real situation.
3. Verbal persuasion
Verbal persuasion usually comes in the form of encouragement form the coach, parents, or peers. Helpful
verbal statements that suggest that the athlete is competent and can succeed are most desirable. Coaching
should be such that it should not contain any negativism.
For example, the coach could say "good swing, Mary. Now remember to keep your eyes on the ball". Verbal
persuasion can also take the form of self-persuasion. This is referred to as self-talk.
4. Emotional arousal
Emotional and physiological arousal is the factors that can influence readiness for learning. Proper attention is
important in helping the athlete to master a particular skill and develop a feeling of efficacy.
The efficacy of Bandura's model in the sport setting is well documented. Perceived self-efficacy is a strong and
consistent predictor of individual athletic performance.
Harter's Competence Motivation Theory (1978)
According to Harter the theory of achievement motivation is based on an athlete's feeling of personal
competence. According to Harter, individuals are innately motivated to be competent in all areas of human
achievement. An individual's self-perception of success at these mastery attempts develops feelings of positive
or negative affect. Successful attempts at mastery promote self efficacy and feelings of personal competence,
which in turn foster high competence motivation. As competence motivation increases, the athlete is
encouraged to make further mastery attempts.
Conversely, if a young athlete's attempts at mastery result in perceived rejection and failure, and then low
competence motivation and negative affect will be the end product. It is hypothesized that low competence
motivation will result in a youth sport dropout.
Sports-related studies have provided support for Harter's competence motivation theory. In Harter's model,
high competence motivation leads to successful task performance, much as high self-efficacy leads to successful
Vealey's Sport-Specific Model of Sport Confidence (1986)
Vealey defines sport confidence as `the belief or degree of certainty individuals possess about their
ability to be successful in sport'. The athlete brings to the objective competitive situation a personality
trait of sport confidence (SC-Trait) and a particular competitive orientation. These two factors are then
predictive of the level of situational state-specific sport confidence (SC-state) the athlete exhibits during
competition. Situation-specific sport confidence (SC-state) is then predictive of performance or clear
Sport Psychology (PSY407)
behavioral response. Behavioral responses give rise to subjective perceptions of outcome. Examples of
subjective outcome include things such as satisfaction, perception of success. Subjective outcomes in
turn influence and are influenced by the athlete's competitive orientation and personality trait of sport
Vealey (1986) tested the basic tenets of her proposed model and found them to be viable. In doing so,
she also developed instruments for measuring SC-trait (Trait Sport-Confidence Inventory), SC-state
(State Sport-Confidence Inventory), and Competitive Orientation (Competitive Orientation Inventory).
Vealey's sport confidence model is very useful for explaining the relationship between general sport
confidence and situation-specific sport confidence. An athlete who is very successful at one sport
transfers much of the confidence derived from his success to other sport situations.
Developing Self-Confidence Through Self-Talk
Self talk basically is an effective technique to control thoughts and to influence feelings. Thoughts and
feelings can influence self-confidence as well as performance.
Thoughts that come into an athlete's mind during competition can be either positive or negative. These
thoughts are a form of self talk. This athlete must learn to control his thoughts and to structure them to
his advantage. This is effectively accomplished through self talk. The athlete must carefully select the
actual words and phrases used during self talk and consider them for maximum effectiveness.
Zinsser, Bunker, and Williams (2001) explain that thoughts affect feeling, which in turn influence
behavior or performance in sport.
An athlete may not feel as self-confident in a situation as she ought to feel. Lack of self-confidence will
have a negative effect upon how well an athlete performs. When an athlete steps to the foul line to
attempt the first of two free throws in basketball, a number of self-efficacy thoughts pass though
consciousness. Hopefully, the thought and feeling is one of "give me the ball; I have made this shot a
hundred times and I will do it again. Unfortunately, for many athletes the thought that comes into their
minds is: "I should be able to make this shot, but what I miss?" The two athletes in this example may
be equally skilled as far as years of experience and practice are concerned, but level of state self
confidence is very different. In these two situations, self-talk can be effective in either affirming self-
efficacy or countering negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
Categories of Self-Talk
Self talk can be in the form of words actually spoken, or in the form of thoughts that come into ones
mind. These thoughts can be either positive or negative. As a psychological method for improving self-
confidence, self-talk must be positive in nature and lead to positive feelings about an athlete's ability.
Self talk is basically used to enhance the self confidence in athletes. Self talk is a strategy used by both
players' juniors as well as professional.
The three primary categories of self-talk,
Task-specific statements relating to technique
Encouragements and effort
Mood words
Sport Psychology (PSY407)
Task-specific statements relating to technique
This category of self-talk refers to words or statements that reinforce technique. For example, in tennis volley,
the word "turn" might be used in association with preparation for stepping into the volley.
Encouragements and effort
This category of self-talk refers to words or statements that provide self-encouragement to preserve or to try
harder. For example, in cricket, the phrase "you can do it" might be used by a batsman in preparation for hitting
a six.
Mood words
This category of self-talk refers to words that precipitate an increase in mood or arousal. Example: the mood
words "hard" or "blast" might be used in conjunction with a play in football or soccer.
Cox, H. Richard. (2002). Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications. (Fifth Edition). New York: McGraw-
Hill Companies
Lavallec. D., Kremer, J., Moran, A., & Williams. M. (2004) Sports Psychology: Contemporary Themes. New
York: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers
Table of Contents:
  1. SPORT PSYCHOLOGY DEFINED:Issue of Certification, The Research Sport Psychologist
  2. SELF-CONFIDENCE AND SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Successful Performance, Verbal persuasion
  3. SELECTING SELF-TALK STATEMENTS:Skill accusation, Controlling effort
  4. GOAL ORIENTATION:Goal Involvement, Motivational Climate
  5. CAUSAL ATTRIBUTION IN SPORT:Fritz Heiderís Contribution, Other Considerations
  7. MOTIVATION IN SPORT:Social Factors, Success and Failure, Coachesí Behavior
  9. PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE GOAL SETTING:Clearly identify time constraints
  10. A TEAM APPROACH TO SETTING GOALS:The Planning Phase, The Meeting Phase
  11. YOUTH SPORT:Distress and anxiety, Coach-Parent Relationships
  12. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Information Processing, Memory Systems
  13. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Measuring Attentional Focus
  14. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Personality Defined, Psychodynamic Theory
  15. THE MEASUREMENT OF PERSONALITY:Projective Procedures, Structured Questionnaire
  16. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Athletic Motivation Inventory, Personality Sport Type
  21. COPING STRATEGIES IN SPORT:Measurement of Coping Skill
  22. RELAXATION STRATEGIES FOR SPORT:Progressive Relaxation, Autogenic Training
  23. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Team Energizing Strategies, Fan Support
  24. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Precompetition Workout, Individual Goal Setting
  25. IMAGERY:Skill Level of the Athletes, Time Factors and Mental Practice
  26. IMAGERY:Symbolic Learning Theory, Imagery Perspective. Sensory Mode
  27. IMAGERY:Paivioís Two-Dimensional Model, Developing Imagery Skills
  28. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Defining Hypnosis, Social-Cognitive Theory
  29. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Achieving the Hypnotic Trance, Hypnotic Phase
  30. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Psychological Skills Training Program
  31. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Performance profiling, Performance routines
  32. ETHICS IN SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Competence, Integrity, Social Responsibility
  33. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:Defining Aggression, Catharsis hypothesis
  34. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:The Catharsis Effect, Fan Violence
  35. AUDIENCE AND CROWD EFFECTS IN SPORTS:Social Facilitation, Crowd Hostility
  36. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Measurement of Team Cohesion
  37. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Predicting Future Participation, Team Building
  38. LEADERSHIP IN SPORT:Fiedlerís Contingency Theory, Coach-Athlete Compatibility
  39. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Special Populations, Clinical Patients
  40. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Social Interaction Hypothesis, Amine Hypothesis
  41. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:The Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Cognitive Theory
  42. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Exercise Addiction, Bulimia Nervosa, Muscle Dysmorphia
  43. BURNOUT IN ATHLETES:Overtraining and Overreaching, Recommended Intervention
  44. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ATHLETIC INJURIES:Personality Factors, Coping Resources
  45. DRUG ABUSE IN SPORT AND EXERCISE:Stimulants, Depressants