Wed, Aug


Muham­mad Ali once said, “I don’t think it’s brag­ging to say I’m some­thing spe­cial.”

For many ath­letes and even of­fi­cials, par­tic­u­lar­ly foot­ball coach­es, an ex­pla­na­tion of the con­cept of self-con­fi­dence is hard­ly nec­es­sary as they know in­tu­itive­ly what it is. In­deed, self-con­fi­dence is so pal­pa­ble in some in­di­vid­u­als you can al­most reach out and touch it. Their con­fi­dence is re­flect­ed in every­thing they say and do, in what they wear, how they speak and how they look.

Self-con­fi­dence is com­mon­ly de­fined as the sure­ness of feel­ing that you are equal to the task at hand. We all know some­one whose self-be­lief has this un­shake­able qual­i­ty, whose ego re­sists even the biggest set­backs. With some peo­ple, the hard­er the blow, the quick­er they bounce back. At the same time, al­though con­fi­dence or be­ing over­con­fi­dence is a de­sir­able char­ac­ter­is­tic, ar­ro­gance or sure­ness of feel­ing not well-found­ed in one’s abil­i­ty - is un­de­sir­able.

At the TTFA’s Meet­ing of all tech­ni­cal staff mem­bers on Fri­day, the tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee chair­man Kei­th Look Loy said that the room was filled with big egos as he em­pha­sised the need for those egos to be put aside, ad­mit­ting he pos­sessed such al­so, but not put to­tal­ly to rest as the heads come to­geth­er for the bet­ter­ment of lo­cal foot­ball. It’s an is­sue that has plagued the sport, and not just foot­ball, for long pe­ri­ods. Every­body wants to do what some­one else is do­ing and think­ing they could do it bet­ter, fail­ing to sup­port, ready to fight down, al­ways know what the so­lu­tion is. Sounds fa­mil­iar right? Or in the case of big egos, un­will­ing to be chal­lenged be­cause they’ve achieved much, some cas­es not even, and there­fore be­lieve that no one can of­fer ad­vice in any mean­ing­ful way. Hope­ful­ly and from all ac­counts so far, these egos will be pushed a lit­tle to the side but the con­fi­dence in abil­i­ty by all will have a rip­pling ef­fect on the per­for­mance.

It is clear that you need a high life of con­fi­dence and self-be­lief to per­form. They used to say Ato Boldon had too much of it. But if you were in his po­si­tion run­ning the 100 me­tres fi­nal at the 1996 Olympics, then you’d un­der­stand why. For Bri­an Lara to walk out be­fore 45,000 Aus­tralians or 60,000 In­di­an fans and be able to per­form, he had to main­tain that swag­ger. For Ken­wyne Jones to stand tall with John Ter­ry at Stam­ford Bridge, sure­ly he couldn’t just be the nice guy from T&T.

But how do we know the great­est ath­letes pos­sess this trait? We've seen ego man­i­fest it­self in Dwight Yorke’s up­turned col­lar, while Jones would of­ten do flips when he scored, Stern John would beat his chest and ges­ture to the fans when he net­ted dur­ing the 2006 World Cup qual­i­fiers.

Con­fi­dence coach Mar­tin Per­ry - whose clients in­clude Ar­se­nal mid­field­er Aaron Ram­sey and golfer Col­in Mont­gomerie - cites the dif­fer­ence be­tween Barcelona for­ward Li­onel Mes­si and Re­al Madrid's Cris­tiano Ronal­do.

"Ronal­do is very out­ward­ly con­fi­dent, where­as Mes­si comes across as qui­et and hum­ble, but both have egos. We know that be­cause of the in­di­vid­ual man­ner in which they play," he says. "They don't see risks; they have a bul­let­proof cer­tain­ty they'll pro­duce and when an ath­lete has that supreme lev­el of con­fi­dence, mag­ic can hap­pen,” he told the BBC.

When tal­ent and ego are in per­fect sym­me­try, a play­er can make the leap from good to great. Mike Forde, for­mer di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions at Chelsea, us­es a for­mu­la - (ego + coach­a­bil­i­ty) x learn­ing cul­ture - with high-per­form­ing teams and in­di­vid­u­als to help them max­imise their tal­ent. The equa­tion shows that ego is the foun­da­tion of great­ness but on­ly if it is still open to be­ing coached and crit­i­cised and there's a struc­ture in place to help them grow," said Forde who worked with Juan Ma­ta and Eden Haz­ard at Chelsea.

Per­for­mance ac­com­plish­ments are the strongest con­trib­u­tor to sport-con­fi­dence. When you per­form any skill suc­cess­ful­ly, you will gen­er­ate con­fi­dence and be will­ing to at­tempt some­thing slight­ly more dif­fi­cult. Per­son­al suc­cess breeds con­fi­dence, while re­peat­ed per­son­al fail­ure di­min­ish­es it. Be­ing in­volved with the suc­cess of oth­ers can al­so sig­nif­i­cant­ly bol­ster your con­fi­dence, es­pe­cial­ly if you be­lieve that the per­former you are in­volved with (eg a team-mate) close­ly match­es your qual­i­ties or abil­i­ties. In ef­fect, it evokes the re­ac­tion: ‘if they can do it, I can do it’. So then, "Let's do it."

Ed­i­tor's Note

Shaun Fuentes is the head of TTFA Me­dia. He is a for­mer FI­FA Me­dia Of­fi­cer at the 2010 FI­FA World Cup in South Africa and cur­rent­ly a CON­CA­CAF Com­pe­ti­tions Me­dia Of­fi­cer. The views ex­pressed are sole­ly his and not a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of any in­di­vid­ual or or­gan­i­sa­tion.