Thursday, May 29, 2008

Linking confidence with performance

I was reading from the book "My Bat Boy Days:  Lessons I Learned From The Boys of Summer" by former Dodger and Padre Steve Garvey (MLB's MVP in 1974) the other night.  It's an excellent book, but one thing jumped out at me.

On pages 137-138, there's an interesting passage about how a player's confidence influences his ability to perform:

"I learned the importance of confidence to a professional athlete, a lesson I will never forget," Al Kaline told Sport Magazine.  "A big-league ball player, who knows he can hit and has hit well before, must never let himself lose faith in his ability to hit well again-regardless of how long any slump may last."

"For me and every other major leaguer who takes his baseball life and work seriously, confidence is a secret strength.  Without it, many ballplayers who could develop into outstanding hitters and pitchers never realize their true potential." 

"Confidence is an intangible, something that's impossible to see, but it can make or break a hitter or pitcher and it can make or break a team."

Chris Paul is a perfect example of how a player's confidence level effects his play.  As the regular season wore on, his average assists improved consistently (Nov. = 9.8; Dec. = 10.4; Jan. = 11.9; Feb. = 11.6; March = 13.3).  That's a sign of confidence.

He made almost half of his 3-pt shots in March (23-50) after hitting just 25% in January.  That's a sign of confidence.

And if you watched the Hornets in the postseason, you saw how confident he was.  It was pretty remarkable.

Coaches would be wise to monitor their players' confidence level throughout the season.  It could be a key factor in not only a player's development, but wins and losses.