4 ways to Increase Confidence in Those Crucial Moments of a Game

In every sport, there are those crucial moments in which your team could win or lose a game. These moments can be at any point. For example, you're a field goal kicker, it's the final moments of the game, and if you make the kick your team will win. Maybe you are on a breakaway and you need to score to give your team the lead. There are many more examples of these high pressure, game changing moments; however, these are just a few. Moments like these call for confidence and proper execution to be successful.

This specific situational confidence is referred to by Albert Bandura (1995) as “self-efficacy” which is the strength of an individual’s belief that he or she can successfully perform a given activity . In other words, self-efficacy is one's belief in their ability to succeed in a specific situation. Self-efficacy has often been used interchangeably with the concept of self-esteem; however, self-efficacy is more accurately described as a precursor to self-esteem and is mediated by the individual’s self-attributions.

As an athlete, it is important to #believe in yourself especially during crucial moments in the game that could result in the difference between a win or a loss.

Without confidence in one's ability, an athlete cannot perform to their potential. For example, previous research has consistently demonstrated a positive relationship between self-efficacy and behavior in terms of performance, effort, and persistence (Moritz, Feltz, Fahrbach, & Mack, 2000). Self-efficacy has been shown to influence performance, which is why those with higher efficacy perform better than those that are less efficacious. Albert Bandura (1995) stated, "People who regard themselves as highly efficacious act, think, and feel differently from those who perceive themselves as inefficacious. They produce their own future, rather than simply foretell it."

So how do we facilitate such beliefs in ourselves and specifically for crucial situations? Well, I am happy to tell you there are FOUR ways that Bandura has identified as being sources of self-efficacy.

These four sources can help improve one's #self-efficacy (#confidence in a situation) and should be utilized as they also have the capacity to influence #performance.

The 4 Sources

1. Mastery Experiences (Personal Success)

Mastery experience comes from one's past personal experiences of achievement. By focusing and remembering these moments of success you will begin to gain more confidence and in turn, be able to successfully perform them again. Mastery experience has been found to be the most influential source of self-efficacy. Bandura (1997) stated that the most influential source of an athlete’s self-efficacy is considered to be mastery experience, as individuals will often attempt to learn and perform only those tasks for which they believe they will be successful. This may be why self-efficacy appears to have considerable influence over people’s ability to learn, their motivation, and their performance (Lunenburg, 2011).


  • Write down your past accomplishments so you can re-read and remember them before you go out to compete.

  • Watch video footage of yourself being successful in these situations previously.

2. Vicarious Experiences (Watching Others)

Vicarious experiences occur from observing others perform successfully in a situation similar to the one you want to become more efficacious in. This is sometimes referred to as modeling. As you watch another perform successfully in a situation, you are able to see how they did it and gain more confidence that you too can do it.


  • Watch professional athletes in your sport more often and specifically watch situations you want to become more confident in.

  • Watch your teammates be successful in similar situations as well.

3. Verbal Persuasion (Verbal Feedback)

Verbal persuasion refers to confirmation from others. These affirmations usually come from coaches, parents, and teammates who give positive feedback helping to make the person feel more confident in the situation. One must never forget the power of words. They can lift up or they can tear down. Focus on those that lift you up so you will gain confidence and increase your performance.


  • Write down positive affirmations others have given you over the years and re-read them, especially before a competition.

4. Physiological Feedback (Emotional State)

Physiological feedback consists of sensations and emotions. These include emotions such as anxiety, stress, level of arousal and mood caused by these situations. When you completed a similar situation successfully, what were the feelings and emotions you had? Were you calm? Composed? Happy? Fearless? Focus on those emotions and imagine yourself feeling this way in the situation over and over again. This way when you are finally in the situation, you will be more likely to have these positive emotions and push out the negative ones.


  • Write down the positive emotions and then visualize yourself in the situation. As you are imagining yourself in the situation, focus on the positive emotions you want to have and really concentrate on feeling them right where you are. By triggering them as you are visualizing, you are actually creating a blueprint. This blueprint will help guide you to being successful in the real situation.

Now that you know these four sources, what are you going to do with them? Confidence is a skill that must be worked on and practiced. It is not by luck or chance that one is confident in a situation. Rather it is a collection of experiences, feedback and emotions building upon each other which increases the level of confidence for optimal performance.

Be #deliberate, #diligent and #dedicated to increasing your #confidence so you will be #prepared for the most crucial moments in the game and come out #successful.

In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning."

If you are interested in working on improving your confidence and want more information on how to really utilize the "4 ways to Increase Confidence in Those Crucial Moments of a Game" contact us to setup a session.


Bandura, A. (1995). Exercise of personal and collective efficacy in changing societies. In A. Bandura (Ed.), Self-efficacy in changing societies (pp.1-45). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York. Freeman.

Lunenburg, F. (20011). Self-efficacy in the workplace: implications for motivation and performance. International Journal of Management, Business, And Administration, 14(1).

Moritz, S. E., Feltz, D. L., Fahrbach, K. R., & Mack, D. E. (2000). The relation of self-efficacy measures to sport performance: A meta-analysis review. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 71(11), 280-294.

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