Don MacNaughton Coaching

Developing Confidence and Self-Belief

“Confidence comes from knowing that you have prepared well.” – John Collins

John Collins believes that confidence comes from being prepared. He says,

“If you’re a player with a match on Saturday, your preparation for the match begins the previous Sunday. You must train well, rest well, eat well, and hydrate well, so that come Saturday, you know that you have done everything in every minute of your time to be prepared for that game.”

Confidence comes from being prepared in every aspect and every angle of your profession, whatever that may be. When you’ve prepared well, you have belief in yourself and your abilities. In football, confidence is vital. John says,

“It’s having the tools and being able to use those tools in the heat of the battle. There are confident talkers that never produce, but in professional football, there’s no hiding place when you walk out onto that pitch, you need to produce.”

Keeping At It

John knows that players gain confidence from the support of fans, and he uses a match scenario to describe the effects of producing a best effort at all times:

“If you lose the ball, you need to sprint after it and try to win it back. Fans will support your efforts – you’ll hear a cheer. But, if you lose the ball and throw your hands in the air, fans will get on your back for wasting time and not chasing after it – you’ll hear a boo. Nobody is superhuman, and confidence does drop when performance drops, but the work ethic should never drop – that’s the key. During those times when your form dips and things are not going your way, you need to keep at it.”

Keeping at it means keeping up the pressure on yourself to be the best you can be. This means not only practicing strengths, but also identifying and improving weaknesses. As a coach, John sees it as his responsibility to get the best he can out of his players in every session, and this means talking about weaknesses as well as praising strengths. He says,

“There needs to be a balance. Players need to know the coach is behind them and there to help and push them, and it’s knowing this that gives them the confidence to try new things. Video is really useful because the good and the not so good is there to be seen, providing the opportunity to ask players about the thought processes that led to each action.”

However, it’s also John’s belief that players need to be their own coaches and to look for ways to work on weaknesses. Working on skills is something that can be done at home, not just on the training ground, and as John puts it,

“Very few professional players touch a ball away from training; I think they should. I’d say to professional players, ‘You are a 24-hour footballer, not just an hour or two,’ and working on ball mastery with nobody judging you other than yourself will lead to improvements that build confidence.”

Confidence comes from knowing that you have the tools to deal with whatever happens on the pitch, and that no matter how pressed you are or how tight a situation you’re in, you have the well-practiced physical and mental skills to deal with it to the best of your ability.

Nobody becomes great instantly, but if you work at it, you improve.

If you keep working at something, you’re going to see improvements. John says,

“That’s the fun part as a young player. You are constantly getting better if you’re doing the work. You need to dream of making it big, but when you wake up in the morning, you’ve got to put the hard work into making that dream a reality. The more skilled you become, the more fun it is to be a player, and the more confidence grows.”

For John, it’s all about the details and developing good habits. He encourages young players to keep learning by watching the best, the masters in the position they play, and to think and do as they do. The details make the difference, and this can be applied to becoming the best you can be in all areas of life and work, not just football. As John says,

“Look in the mirror every day and ask yourself, ‘How do I get better; what do I need to do to get better’ – and then work at it.”


For my full podcast with John click here   You can also find our other podcasts from this link



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