Don MacNaughton Coaching

Sport, Blackberries and Dealing with Self-Doubt

“I need to get away because, as I often tell my players, life isn’t just soccer and BlackBerries.” Pepe Guardiola

Reading about Pepe Guardiola’s decision to leave Barcelona FC got me thinking. After an amazing 13 titles in 4 years in charge of the club, his subsequent comments about how exhausting he found his time are refreshingly honest, “Every day during four years, the demands are very high, the pressure, the necessary energy to push the players and enjoy it. I need to rest and move away.” Pepe Guardiola

Guardiola’s coaching philosophy is almost the opposite of his arch rival Jose Mourinho, who attacks and intimidates opponents and tries to show no weakness in the public arena. Guardiola is more reflective, measured, and self- honest. The journalist Gabrielle Marcotti has spoken about how Guardiola carries within him self-doubt and how the strain on maintaining such high expectations can effect mental and physical well-being.

HermannHesseThis reminded of what the prolific and successful writer Hermann Hesse once said, “Faith and doubt go hand-in-hand, they are complementaries. One who never doubts will never truly believe.” Hesse may not have been a champion athlete but his story of success, despite experiencing doubt, is as relevant to anyone who experiences a lack of confidence in the sports world as it is in the world of literature.

It seems almost unimaginable that someone as successful as Hesse (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946) could ever have experienced self-doubt. However, his belief that ‘faith and doubt go hand-in-hand’ demonstrates that he did know what it felt like to doubt himself and because of that very experience, he also knew what it felt like to have faith in himself and to believe in himself.

What we can all learn, athletes included, from Hesse’s story of success is that self-doubt does not need to hold you back from achieving your sporting dreams and ambitions. In fact, by learning how to get doubt to hold hands with faith, you can effectively use self-doubt to generate self-confidence, through an openness to learn and focus on performance preparation.

All athletes, at every level of competition, face moments of doubt in their competitive careers. You might imagine that the key to sporting success is to reach a point where you are beyond doubt but success is not the result of never doubting yourself, it’s the result of never letting your doubts go unquestioned. For example, if you are doubting your readiness to compete at a major event, you must question why you feel that way. You must identify what your ‘fears’ are and then face them by challenging how real they actually are. Answering those questions and identifying what is real and what is merely your perception of reality allows your self-confidence to grow.

The Sports Shrink Coaching Corner

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What are your doubts in relation to achieving your Goal ?
  • What might the “doubt” be trying to tell you?(Take time to reflect on this question and trust your instinct)
  • What are the facts about your doubts and what is the “story” you are telling yourself?
  • What actions can you take to reduce and eventually eliminate the doubt?
  • What is the smallest action you can take today to move forward positively towards your goal?

© Copyright Don MacNaughton 2012, All Rights Reserved

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *