Great Athletes Possess Great Confidence

Great Athletes Possess Great Confidence

Great athletes have incredible beliefs in their ability to perform. “With hard work,” Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps noted, “with belief, with confidence, and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits.”

Self-confidence equals success. Outstanding athletes are truly self-confident. Athletes and coaches desire it most. They want to understand it; they want to learn how to enhance it. It ranks high on their list of priorities.

Confidence exudes optimism. It is described as “a tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation.”

A confident athlete thinks differently about things than other athletes. Confident athletes learn not to trust their conscious minds. They understand that the conscious mind is not their friend. The conscious mind must be trained and discipline much like the way they train their physical body. These confident athletes think they can—and often do—perform well under the pressure of competition. They imagine themselves as winners. They never give up.

In Martin Seligman’s 1991 book, Learned Optimism, he notes Zinsser, Bunker, and Williams said that “the predisposition to keep one’s mind on the positive aspects of one’s life and sports performance, even in the face of setbacks and disappointments, is a hallmark of the successful athlete.”

Seligman’s study of athletes and professional sports teams revealed that the individual with a more “optimistic explanatory style” after a defeat usually goes on to excel and win in the next competition. Seligman observed that the competitor “will win because he will try harder, particularly after defeat.”

Consider these “optimistic explanatory style” from professional baseball players as they describe the circumstances for their defeat:

  • “We lost because they made the plays tonight.”
  • “The ball really carried. I just about got my glove on it” [but missed catching a fly ball].
  • “Sometimes you go through these kinds of days” [after a pitcher gave up a home run].

When justifying a loss or miss play, the reasons apply only to that game; blame was not placed on their performance but circumstances beyond their control. Seligman concludes thusly, “Success on the playing field is predicted by optimism. Failure on the playing field is predicted by pessimism.”

The greatest achievement in which confidence was exhibited in athletic performance was Roger Bannister in 1954 in breaking the four-minute mile. It was believed the four-minute mile was an impenetrable barrier. Bannister, on the other hand, believed it could be done. Furthermore, he believed he was the only person who could do it. Not only did he physically practice but engaged in mental rehearsal with so much intensity and conviction that he saw himself over and over again achieving this goal.

With optimistic self-confidence, the athlete can control his or her thoughts. They learn to use self-talk to facilitate learning and performance. Bannister’s greatest achievement was not only proving that through confidence that he could break the four-minute mile, but he inspired others so much that within a year 37 others also surpassed that mark.

Dr. Kevin Goddu, Ph.D.
Head Golf Professional
Butter Brook Golf Club
Westford, MA

Indoor Stress-Relief Activities

Indoor Stress-Relief Activities

There’s no shame in being bored. Whenever you find yourself with not so much to do — or not so many places to go this days — it’s natural to get a bit uneasy. The first day or so is gold: you sleep in, enjoy a luxurious breakfast, and, of course, watch your favorite TV shows. But then, it happens.


Positive Self-Talk: “Why not say something positive about yourself?”

Our thoughts determine our feelings. Our feelings determine our actions.

Words and thoughts we say to ourselves, commonly referred to as Self-Talk, can be used to direct attention to a particular thing to improve focus or in conjunction with other techniques.

Self-Talk is generated within our minds or it can be verbalized. It can improve behavior depending upon how we interpret its words.

Negative Self-Talk produces adverse feelings, anxiety, and physical tension with performance. It affects our intensity regulation, confidence, and concentration. Positive Self-Talk, however, produces constructive feelings and improve performance.

“The Tale of Two Wolves” is a Cherokee legend that illustrates the choices we have to think either positively or negatively.

As the story goes, an old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

“Staying positive in negative situations is the hallmark of mentally strong individuals,” observed mental strength coach, Gregg Swanson. Sport psychologist Jim Afrenow noted, “Understanding that this choice [positive Self-Talk] is yours alone is very empowering and important.”

Talking to one’s self isn’t a sign of mental problems. Having an internal conversation is normal and useful. Self-Talk is more than just building self-confidence. It allows you to use your talents to the fullest. It is neither a mindless positive affirmation nor only happy thoughts nor self-delusion. It can give you a handle for controlling moods. It can help you understand why you react the way you do. And, it helps you repeat success and curtail shortcomings.

Restructuring negative to positive Self-Talk is vital to a successful athlete. An athlete who misses a scoring opportunity may say, “I can’t believe I messed up” or “I stink a this, and I’m no good” can change the focus to “there are better scoring chances” and “bring it on!”

“The ultimate purpose of examining what is going on inside your head is to change actions that are self-defeating,” wrote Swanson. “Thinking correctly does alter your negative moods, but enduring change comes only with modifying your behavior.”

How do we do this? Keep your Self-Talk phrases short and specific. Speak to yourself in the first-person and in the present tense. Say what you want done not what you do not want done. Say these positive words to yourself with meaning and intensity. Finally, speak kind to yourself. Don’t berate yourself if something goes wrong.

Both positive and negative Self-Talk are certainly options for the athlete. The negative Self-Talk focuses on the past (anger, regret, and frustration) while the positive Self-Talk thrives on the present and overflows with optimism (strengthen focus, excitement, and relaxation).

“The mind guides actions. If we succeed in regulating our thoughts, then this will help our behavior,” noted psychologist Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis.


Dr. Kevin Goddu, Ph.D.
Head Golf Professional
Butter Brook Golf Club
Westford, MA


Positive Self-Talk










Home Workout Routine

Home Workout Routine

“The things that keep you safe and healthy every day are the same habits that are going to keep you healthy through this outbreak,” said Christina Chang, executive vice president and deputy CEO at Vital Strategies, a global health organization working with governments in 73 countries on pressing public health issues, including pandemics.


We all know that healthy habits like: exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep, are good for optimizing health. But with so many options and limitless information available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything on internet. But not to worry. We’ve got your back!

Health Benefits of Physical Activity

The Health Benefits of Sport and Physical Activity

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you, but do you know about all the ways that exercise can improve your health? Check it out:

  1. Improved cardiovascular health. The heart is a muscle, it needs to be worked out! Regular exercise can help improve the overall health of your entire cardiovascular system.
  2. Lowers risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. A healthier heart means reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.
  3. Helps manage weight. Not only does physical activity burn calories, it also improves your metabolism in the long run.
  4. Reduced blood pressure. Physical activity keeps your heart and blood vessels healthy, helping to prevent hypertension.
  5. Enhanced aerobic fitness. Participating in aerobic activities — such as running, cycling, or swimming — can improve your body’s ability to transport and utilize oxygen in the lungs and blood.
  6. Improved muscular strength and endurance. Resistance exercises challenge your muscular system, resulting in bigger, stronger muscles.
  7. Improved joint flexibility and range of motion. Improved flexibility reduces risk of injury.
  8. Stress relief. Exercise is a great mood-booster and has proven to be an effective method of stress relief.
  9. Lowers risk of certain types of cancer. People who exercise regularly are less likely to develop breast, colon, and lung cancer.
  10. Control cholesterol. Exercise decreases LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and increases HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
  11. Ward off osteoporosis. Building dense, strong bones is another benefit of physical activity.
  12. Strengthens immune system. Exercising more = getting sick less.
  13. Improved sleep. We know just how important sleep is, and exercising can help you capitalize on these benefits.
  14. Mental health benefits. Exercise is good for your mental health too, as it can battle feelings of anxiety and depression, sharpen your focus, and improve self esteem.
  15. Prolonged life. When you add all of these benefits together, what do you get? A longer, healthier, more enjoyable life!

Looking for more ways that physical activity can improve your overall health? Check out this article.