Confidence: Your Life Story

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

Basketball is Psychology X

“There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking.” --William James



Sports Psychologist for the Seattle Seahawks, NBA players, and Olympians, Michael Gervais, often states confidence comes from only one place: what you say to yourself. Most people believe confidence comes from past successes or preparation, but that’s only part of the equation.

Inner Dialogue

You are in a never-ending conversation with yourself. This conversation is where confidence is built or destroyed.

The most important part of this inner dialogue is what you think about yourself.

One of the most influential psychologists to ever live was William James. James graduated from Harvard and he is often referred to as the “Father of American Psychology”. One of his core beliefs was that people tend to become what they think about themselves. This is where confidence comes from. Whether it’s negative or positive, people meet the expectations they have for themselves.

So what do you think about yourself?

If you think you’re a great basketball player, you’ll probably be a great basketball player.

If you think you’re a mediocre basketball player, you’ll probably be a mediocre basketball player.

Regardless, you must understand this battle of confidence is won or lost in the mind, before you ever touch a basketball. You have to tell yourself who you are and what you want to become.

Don’t you need preparation to be confident?

It’s the other way around. You need confidence to prepare.

If your inner dialogue consists of you telling yourself you are never going to be a great shooter, you wouldn’t have the confidence to go to the gym and shoot 500 shots before every practice.

If you’re telling yourself that your opponent is unbeatable, you’re not going to prepare a detailed scouting report.

On the other hand, if you believe you are going to be the greatest shooter of all time, you’ll have the confidence to get up as many shots as it takes to turn that belief into reality.

If you’ve been telling yourself, “Our team can beat anyone,” you’ll have the confidence to invest the time and effort prepare a game plan that allows you to beat anyone.

However, you could shoot 1,000 shots every day, but if game time comes around and you start telling yourself anything other than I got this, I’m prepared for this, you won’t be confident. This is why confidence does not come solely from preparation. There are people who prepare like crazy, but they are undisciplined with their thoughts, so their confidence is destroyed. To be confident, you have to remind yourself about the work you put in, and let go of any doubts.

So in a way preparation does make you confident, because being prepared ultimately makes your inner dialogue better.

By no stretch of the imagination does this mean you can dream up confidence, you have to put in the work so the conversation you’re having with yourself is backed by your actions. You have to able to trust your training. But in order to put in the work necessary to be great, you have to tell yourself you can be great. Confidence starts with your inner dialogue.


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