It’s a well-known fact that a person’s confidence affects his/her performance in their respective sport. Unless you’re a Michael Jordan (who put so much time and effort into ensuring that the game was second-nature), or Kobe Bryant-type player (who either has the biggest ego in the world or…nope. That’s exactly what it is. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t like him. He’s a cocky diva.), your confidence in your own abilities will directly affect how you perform.
Note: since the sport I know the most about is basketball, I will mainly be using basketball examples.
What do I mean? Imagine if you’re playing a pick-up basketball game. You get a pass, and decide to take it strong to the hole. You think you’re open, so you lay a shot up – KABAYUM! Someone just came weakside and swatted your shot back in time. Everyone else reacts, either by yelling, “OHHHHHHHH!”, or jumping up and down (and basically looking like someone just kicked you in the teeth), and occasionally you get the person who shows off their o-face on the court.
What happens after that? Most of the time, people will play more passive, or just far too aggressive to try and compensate. Regardless, the person who got their shot blocked will end up playing terribly for the rest of the game by making stupid decisions, or simply not being able to shoot properly. In short, you play like you took some of the drugs from 21 Jump Street (if you haven’t seen the movie yet, go do it. Just stop reading this, and go).
I will admit to having this happen to me plenty of times, and it’s a sort of slump that is hard to snap out of.
Which brings me to an off-court issue that has the ability to seriously affect how you play, even if you aren’t consciously thinking of it: relationships with women.
If you’re a guy right now, I know you may be thinking, “Bullsh*t.” And that it seems very “Hollywood”, but it happens. You may not want it to, but it does. I’ve personally experienced it, and I’ve had friends mention it to me under their breaths – you’ve had an argument or you’re taking a break or something similar, and you don’t want to think about it so you came out to play ball. Then you end up playing just “turrible”, a-la Charles Barkley. But you can also have the complete opposite happen, where the guy/girl affects you positively so that you end up playing relaxed and happy, and therefore have some of your best games.
Sometimes though, you just can’t play well no matter what happens. I like to call them “Quicksand” games. First, one thing goes wrong, like a simple turnover, then, another, and another, and no matter how hard you try to remedy the situation, it just keeps getting worse and worse, to the point where even a simple pass seems difficult. This sometimes happens in short bursts during games (which is why basketball is such a game of runs), and can sometime go for entire games (I don’t know if I should put Tebow in here, because he may just be a terrible player – 50 points for anyone who read that as “turrible”). When quicksand appears, you just have to hold your ground and hope that the game isn’t out of reach by the time you’ve recovered. Sometimes, you can’t – see “Boston Red Sox”:
I have to say that in the end, unless you’re a professional athlete, I don’t believe that you should be so hard on yourself as to constantly and consistently expect to play great. I strayed off that path myself and played sub-par for my intramural basketball team, and I have to tell you that it has taken me a long, long time to get back on the right path. Losing confidence and not enjoying the game is unfortunately something that is easy to do, so just stop thinking so damn much about how everyone else is analyzing your play, relax, and aim to have fun. If you’re not doing something well, let someone else take over and play a support role. You’ll find yourself wanting to play more, and you’ll be happier. It all breeds confidence!
On another note: Follow Derrick Zoolander’s advice here if you think that how you look determines how you play: http://www.youtube.com/
Written by NextGame Nation Member and Intern, Morgan Chang.