Chapter 21. Confidence

Definition of confidence:

A feeling of assurance, especially of self-assurance.

Confidence is a firm belief in one's powers, abilities, or capacities.

Confidence is the first attribute that comes to mind when people think about what it takes to be successful in sport.  What do you think – can you “do” confident?  Can you behave confidently?  Is confidence something you can put into a performance, or is it the way you feel because you are performing well?

For many people confidence actually seems to be something that is very difficult to pin down.  It seems to encompass a multitude of feelings, and as a result it is very hard to figure out how to be confident or behave confidently.  In fact, if you ask yourself if you are confident, the very question can unsettle you – it’s almost as if an empty sensation takes hold of your body because it’s so indefinable.

Also, what can you be confident of?  If you ask a professional darts player if he is confident of scoring 180 every time he throws, he couldn’t justifiably say that he is.  If you ask him if he is confident of hitting the board with every throw, he could be 99.999% sure of achieving this.  But, that’s not really a useful thing to be confident of.

So perhaps we are agreed that “confidence” is not quite as easy to achieve as it would first seem.  If confidence is an attribute, then what can people use to increment their mental state towards increased confidence?  This is where it gets even more difficult – I have not heard of a single clear cut and instinctive way of behaving more confidently.  The word is just too big.


Confidence is the sum total of all of your attributes.  If you can achieve all of your attributes then you will experience confidence as an outcome.

An extraordinary fact backs up this analysis:  of all the sportspeople who provided input into the development of the Increment System, only one cited confidence, or a lack of confidence, as an attribute that they needed to manage.

Confidence in sport receives an enormous amount of attention in the media, but it’s not something that an athlete needs to be concerned with.  This is for a very simple reason:  confidence is the outcome of a good mental performance.  If you can achieve all of your attributes then you will achieve confidence as a by-product.  But if you try to simply “be confident” then you will be lost as to how to do this.

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