Don MacNaughton Coaching

Developing Confidence through the Pillars of Performance


 “If you can’t win, make the one ahead of you break the record.” – John McKeithen

No one gets to stay at the top of their game all the time. For every high in sport there’s going to be an equal low, but champions become champions through accepting that things don’t always go to plan and pushing on through “failure” to improve their performance next time.

To keep moving and to keep improving means to keep making changes, but many of us dislike change because we fear failure. However, if where you are now is not where you want to be, then you’re going to need to do things differently – but doing things differently takes confidence.

In sport, confidence is self-belief; an unshakeable belief in yourself and your capabilities. Building confidence can be given a boost with an understanding of the Four Pillars of Performance

The Four Pillars of Performance

There are four recognised pillars on which all great sporting performances rest:

  • Technical
  • Tactical
  • Physical
  • Psychological

Just like structural pillars supporting a building, these performance pillars must share the weight of their load evenly if the whole structure is to stay standing. Each pillar can be considered a pillar of ability, so if your ability in one is greater than another, you’re going to be creating an uneven load that might lead to your performance crashing down.


As an athlete or player, an understanding of the technical requirements of your sport is essential if you are to achieve a top performance.


Some sports are considered more tactical than others. Team sports such as football and rugby are tactical games, but all sports, including solo sports, have tactical elements that can make the difference between putting in a mediocre performance or achieving a winning performance. As a player, you need game tactics in place long before the start of the match; as an athlete, you need race or event tactics in place long before you hear the starter’s gun, and changing conditions on the day of a competition can mean a change of tactics.


Whatever your sport and whatever role you play, you must be fit for purpose. For example, being fit enough to run a marathon doesn’t mean you’re physically prepared to compete in the decathlon event. Without an understanding of how the human body adapts to physical training and how to apply a progressive programme of fitness training, optimum fitness for each sport is unlikely to be achieved.


When all other elements are equal – technical, tactical, physical – what makes one player win over another? The answer is often mental skill. Learning how to remain focused when it matters most is the “winning edge” that can separate the champions from the rest of the field.

Correct the Imbalance

Identifying where your weaknesses are is the first step towards growing as a performer. To be able to play to your strengths, you need to know what they are. The key to greater success is to then develop your weaker skills, rather than hide from them, building them so they don’t take away from your strengths. This not only corrects the imbalance in the load across the pillars, it allows you to build onwards and upwards from a steady platform. Building your skills builds your confidence, and with confidence you recognise that you can’t win ’em all doesn’t mean you can’t win next time.

Don MacNaughton is a High-Performance Coach and has worked tirelessly to help clients achieve success in the world of sport and business over the past 15 years.   The next, highly popular, NLP Diploma and Life Coaching Certificate course starts in April 2019.  Click here for more information or to sign up.




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