The mind-body connection is a very powerful one. For everything you think in your mind, your body has a reaction, regardless of whether it is real or imagined. For example, if a person is home alone and they hear a noise and interpret it as the wind, they are fine; but if they interpret it as a prowler, their fight or flight response takes over and they become fearful, their heart begins going a mile a minute, their eyes dilate and they are scared. This is psychological and has proved to be apparent in many aspects of live, sport especially.
‘ The psychology of sport is perhaps the real discipline that can make the difference between participation and being competitive’ (Syer & Connolly, 1984, p.6). Psychology has become a major element in sport in recent years, in particular for elite athletes. For example, one third of golfers on major tours work with a sports psychologist or consultant. (Brennan, 1990, p.252). The main aspect of sport psychology is the understanding of individual differences within and between sports.
The understanding of sports psychology is important for the coach and the athlete equally. The coach needs to focus on psychological factors, especially ‘the four C’s’ which are control, confidence, commitment and communication. The Carolina Sport Confidence Inventory is a quantitative test that enables the subject to gain a value of confidence. The value the subject achieved for sport competence was seventeen, which is very low and therefore suggests the subject has a low self-confidence and efficacy levels. When interviewed, the subject’s answers confirmed a low self-confidence level, for example stating; ‘we’re going to lose anyway’ so that no one is disappointed in her. The responses also suggest that the subject is extremely unconfident in herself, and this is influenced by the opinions of others playing with or against her.
The interview responses also show that the subject gains confidence through knowledge of performance, when she feels she is playing well and when she is playing against a weaker team. In the Carolina Sport Confidence Inventory the subject predominantly ticks the boxes that say ‘somewhat true’ and only once the ‘very true’ box. This also suggests low confidence in her abilities and the majority of the ticked statements are negative.
Discussion and Conclusion Where the subject is under-confident, she commonly sufferers from fear of failure (which will prevent her from taking risks effectively), self-doubt, lack of concentration, and negative thinking. The subject finds herself blaming herself for faults that lie elsewhere. These damage her flow and disrupt her enjoyment of the sport. It is important that a correct level of self confidence is achieved in order for the subject to excel in her sport. Low self-confidence levels also leads to low concentration and motivation levels. This relates to the ‘four C’s’ again and how each of the mental traits are interconnected.
Self confidence can be defined as; ‘The belief that you can successfully perform a desired behaviour’ (Weinberg and Gould, 1995:300) There are two main types; trait and state. Trait confidence is defined by Vealey as ‘…the belief or degree of certainty individuals usually possess about their ability to be successful in sport’ (Vealey, 1986:223) State confidence has been defined as; ‘…the belief or degree of certainty individuals possess at one particular moment about their ability to be successful in sport’ (Vealey, 1986:223)
Bandura suggests that as people learn they have an ability to achieve things, they develop a feeling of self-efficacy that is the prospect that they will be competent and successful at a specific task. An example of this is that a player may have a high level of self-efficacy on a golf course but not on a tennis court. Bandura’s research concluded that people try harder and persist longer if they have a high self-efficacy level, those with low self-efficacy have the following characteristics: blame themselves, experience greater anxiety and depression. Self-efficacy is also closely linked with other areas of psychology such as Weiner’s attribution theory and the need for competence.