Oftentimes, in a competition between equally talented opponents, the competitor with the greatest confidence and self-belief comes away on top. One simple way to enhance confidence is to surround our self with messages that communicate confidence. We are constantly sending messages, both to ourselves and to those around us, and we do so in a number of ways. The obvious way we send messages is through verbal communication, meaning through the use of language. This occurs both at an audible level, where we are communicating to others, and an inaudible level, where we communicate to our self through inner thought. Less obvious is the messages that are being sent through nonverbal communication, such as the messages being communicated by our body. If we coordinate the messages that we are sending to communicate confidence – both verbally and non-verbally – we can fully expect to see a boost in our self-belief, allowing us to improve performance and achieve more.
The second most common question I receive from my family behind “What is Sport Psychology?” is “What can you do with that?” I appreciate the curiosity, and understand our field’s developing notoriety. However, I believe there is much more value in what I study than simply a means to a job. If sport is commonly seen as a microcosm of our larger society, then the skills developed within its context are equivalent to the ones needed in the greater life experience. Given sports have encompassed my entire childhood development, perhaps a more prudent inquiry from my family should be “What are you doing with [sport psychology]?”
This winter, I was granted an opportunity to be an assistant coach at the varsity level for a local high school team. When coaching summer hockey camps in the past, I had developed a coaching philosophy that has stuck with me over the years. Coming into my first full season as a coach, I knew there was going to be a big learning curve. When coaching summer camps, you’re often only with the athletes for a week; far less than the months of time that you spend with a group of athletes as a high school coach. One thing that has helped me overcome this learning curve is the knowledge and skills that I have gained as a graduate student studying sport and exercise psychology at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Learning about the mental side of sports has already helped to shape my coaching philosophy over the course of the season.