Confidence comes from being able to get the right outcome when it matters.
Confidence doesn’t come from being able to do something perfectly well when it doesn’t count.
For development to occur a young player needs to get perform when it matters – in competitive situations either at training or on match day.
This is not to say that the Top Flight Football Academy expectation is that players will automatically be able to do the right thing every time when they play.
On the contrary, the understanding is that development is by no means a linear process. Players progress at different rates, occasionally they will seem to go backwards, will sometimes take dramatic leaps forwards in performance and other times will seem to be spend months with no discernable improvement.
Learning is not a straight-line improvement. Rather it is a messy scribble where, over time, skills are developed.
Players need to be regularly placed in pressure situations. By making the right choice and executing a skill effectively when in a competitive environment they develop confidence. Building confidence and overcoming a challenge is vital because it encourages an individual to tackle harder tasks.
Get Out of the Comfort Zone
An individual cannot stay in the comfort zone if they wish to get better. Responding to adversity and difficult situations helps expand the comfort zone.
Kai Kight, a 23 year old Stanford graduate and world-class violinist recently shared his views on how to build confidence by flipping the traditional model of practice on its head in the Finding Mastery: Conversations with Michael Gervais podcast.
Gone was the concept of 8 hours of practice in a nice, quiet room located in a music conservatory.
Rather Kight would start his practice in front of a small audience, make sure he played the wrong notes to begin with and then challenge himself to respond in a positive manner. This practice routine forced him to get out of his comfort zone and introduced mental toughness to his programme.
His attitude of not being afraid to mess up when training in order to get better is fantastic.
What is practice for, if not for the opportunity to learn?
Over time Kight developed confidence through his deliberate use of errors in practice because he knew that he had the power to recover in front of an audience.
He realised that, if he did make a mistake in a performance, he would be able to turn it around and get on with the show.
This is such a powerful ability to have.
From a youth football perspective often players who make a mistake in the opening minutes of a match can go into their shell for the remainder of the game. The error of the opening minutes means that the vast remainder of the game is lost.
Learning that mistakes can and will happen but having the resilience to respond is vital.
The approach of Kight is highly innovative.
However, to be deployed effectively amongst Top Flight Football Academy athletes communication is essential so that young players understand that they are being tested and why game-day or pressure situations have such value.
Staying in the comfort zone is the easy thing to do. We encourage and support our players to continue the journey of improvement so that they can be the best that they can be.
Finding Mastery: Conversations with Michael Gervais podcast (Kai Kight interview)
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