Role of Confidence in a Competition
by Ron Kurtus (31 May 2007)
Confidence is a feeling a you have that you are able to perform a task and overcome the challenges involved. The feeling of confidence in a competition means the you are sure you can win. It is a combination of a judgment of your skills, success record, and the skills of the opponent—if known.
Confidence applies to performance, head-to-head and predatory competitions. Lacking confidence or having too much confidence can result in defeat.
Questions you may have include:
- How do you gain confidence?
- What happens if you have low confidence?
- Why do some get over-confident?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Your confidence is a result of your record of successes in an activity. In some cases, successes in a different activity can result in confidence in some other activity.
Example of 25K race
If you have successfully completed a 25K marathon, you will have confidence that you can complete one again. If you have reaches a milestone in the time it takes you to run the marathon, you have confidence you can reach that time again. If you have beaten certain individuals in the race, you are confident you can beat them again.
Your experience in achieving your goals in the marathon or in other activities can also give you confidence in being able to succeed elsewhere. You know that persistence and preparation allowed you to do well in the marathon, so you have confidence that you have the abilities to succeed in getting a good job or such.
Track record of wins
In head-to-head competition, a good track record of victories will give you the confidence of beating opponents, even though you do not know how good they are. In fact, lack of that knowledge may even help you.
In some experiments at the University of Wisconsin, they matched a mouse against others in short fights. One mouse won every fight, but what he didn't know is that the behavioral scientists had tied the front legs of his opponents, so they were not effective fighters. The mouse had great confidence in his ability, and when confronted with a larger, tougher mouse that did not have his legs tied, the confident mouse fought with such ferocity that he easily beat the bigger mouse.
Gaining confidence requires not only a success record, but it also requires acknowledging those successes. Unfortunately, some people diminish their successes or victories, and that results in lower confidence than they should have.
Negative feeling results in losing
When you have low confidence in a competition, you have the feeling that you will not do as well or that the opponent is too good to beat. This negative feeling will result in not performing up to your ability. Often a person with low confidence will give up easily, thus reinforcing the concept of lack of talent.
Practice to improve
But if you are new in an activity or are competing against opponents that are much better than you, it is natural to realize your chances of winning are you. But this is not low confidence. It is the acknowledgment that you need experience and practice to improve. Going into the competition with the frame of mind that it is practice to improve will help build your confidence in the long run.
Being over-confident can result in unexpected losses.
There are some competitors that become so about themselves that they get over-confident. They strut around like they are so good. They often feel they do not need to prepare before the competition, especially when the opponent is not considered very good. Over-confidence sometimes results in the underdog winning the competition.
It is sometimes difficult to compete against an opponent that is know to be much less talented than you. If is difficult to motivate yourself to take the effort to prepare for the contest.
It is also difficult to try very hard, because you don't want to humiliate the opponent. But you must play your game. You should not slack off until the game obviously won by you. In such as case, you could offer to have a handicap, provided it did not offend the other person.
I once played an opponent in 4-wall handball who was not very good, thus making me over-confident about beating him. I felt bad for him, so I eased off and let him score points to keep the game close. But then when it got to scoring the last few points to win the game, I continued to play poorly and couldn't get out of the rut. Meanwhile, his confidence had been bolstered, and he played well enough to beat me.
That was the last time it let that happen to me.
Having confidence concerning a competition means the you are sure you can win. It is a combination of a judgment of your skills, success record, and the skills of the opponent. Confidence applies to performance, head-to-head and predatory competitions. Lacking confidence or having too much confidence can result in defeat.
Build your confidence by acknowledging victories
Resources and references
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Role of Confidence in a Competition