The 3 levels of confidence and how to help your player achieve them.

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The look ahead:

  • What are the 3 levels of confidence?
  • Where is your player's confidence?
  • How do I improve the level of my player's confidence?

Confidence is an important (yet tricky) element to any basketball player's game, some players have it while others have very little... the one constant thing is that every player wants more confidence.

Professional athletes rely on their confidence to get that extra edge on other players, while in youth sports players struggle with it every day. Confidence is incredibly so it's important to understand where it comes from.

Sports psychologists Graham Betchart and George Mumford at Lucid Mental Training (our partners) broke down the 3 different levels of confidence.

The 3 Levels of Confidence:

Shaky Confidence

In this level of confidence feelings and results & outcomes are the core contributors. When a player is new to basketball or playing recreationally they are focused on this level of confidence. In this level if your player feels great or had a positive results last time on the court, then they will perform great. On the other hand, if they feel bad or have had negative results, they will have negative results. 

In this level it is important for a player to have continued success or have positive feelings in order to be confident. If they do not have these results then you will see their confidence take a tumble.

Their trust is in their emotions. Because we don't control our emotions (we control our attitude), this is very shaky ground to build from.


Stable Confidence

This level of confidence is based on the athlete's process to get better. If they execute on their process, then they will be confident. They don't have to feel confident or see results in order to be confident. They know that they can't control their feelings, results or outcomes, but they can control their process and game plan to get better.

In this level it is important for a player to be constantly training. They need to be putting in work at home AND in a gym. 

Their trust is in their coach and their process. Although they don't see results yet, they trust the process of getting better.

Stephen Curry explains his confidence on the court and how he relies on muscle memory to take over.

Supreme Confidence

In this level of confidence a player has gone through his process and is now seeing results. This is where your breakthroughs happen. It's also a very important stage because a player realizes their potential and greatness. Once a player understands how to learn he/she can hack their own learning process by changing small things in their process to get different results. This stage only comes with training.

Their trust is in themselves and what they can accomplish.

Note: Different facets of a players game can have different levels of confidence (example: a player may be stable confident in his shooting, but supremely confident in his dribbling). 

How do I know which confidence level my player is?

Ask your player these questions: 

  • How often do you practice a week? The more you practice the more likely you land in the stable or supreme confident level. Just like going to the gym, confidence comes with consistency.
  • How are your player's mood swings after good / bad games? If they are dramatic then there is still a lot of emotion in their game (which may indicate shaky confidence).
  • What do you work on when you practice? Does your player have a plan when he practices by himself or does he just "shoot around"? If he/she is just "shooting around" then they don't have a process to follow therefor they have shaky confidence.
  • When you practice do you get frustrated when you don't see the results you want? It's not about being results driven, it's about being growth driven. If you are stuck on your results then you are probably stuck in the shaky confidence level.

How do I improve the level of my player's confidence?

The end goal here is to generate confidence when it's hard to see results. In order to get your player into a higher level of confidence it will require more trust in the process of getting better. Here is what you can do to at each level to increase a player's confidence:

Shaky Confidence: The goal for players in the shaky confidence level to for them to understand what it takes to do something well (in this case it's basketball). You want to show them that their dreams can become reality, while teaching them how to create and trust a process.

  • Create a fire within your player: Have a heart to heart talk with your player. Ask your player what goals they have playing basketball? Do they want to make a league team, club basketball or high school team? You want to tie an emotion with this decision, as Tony Robbins says, "motion follows emotion."
  • Connect the dots for success: Ask your player what they think it takes to achieve their goals. Then sit down and create a workout plan that will help them achieve their goal together.
  • Involve your coach: Your coach should know what their player is trying to achieve. He or she can be your best ally in this situation. Sit down with him/her to talk about your plan and see how he can help adjust it to get maximum results.
  • Make sure to have accountability: There are two ways to do this well.
    • Accountability with you and your coach: Make sure you and your coach check in with your player regularly (daily or weekly) to advise and give them motivation.
    • Get a workout buddy: Because your player is probably socially motivated by his sport, consider teaming up with a partner who has similar goals. This workout buddy will hold your player accountable (and visa versa) during their training. Either way, you should check in with them to make sure they are holding their side of the bargain.

Kobe Bryant mixtape spanning his Hall of Fame Career.

Stable Confidence: The goal of this level is to continue to motivate. You don't want your player to get negative because he doesn't see results.

  • Show support: Talk to your player encouragingly. Let them know that it's a process and that what he/she is doing is not easy! Send them notes before workouts or call/text them to let them know you are thinking about them. 
  • Send them mix tapes: Mix tapes are viral videos of players highlights. They intend to evoke emotion in every basketball player, and young basketball players watch them. Here is a list of the top 15 NBA mixtapes.
  • Celebrate (what may seem like) small wins: Celebrate the things that you can control (attitude, effort and focus). So long as you make those (seemingly small) elements your foundation they will allow you to achieve your goals again and again.

Also remember that emphasizing the process  of becoming better is extremely important, no matter the outcome. Check out our blog on How To Speak To Your Player After a Game to understand the big 3 things to focus on. Results should never be the focus of your conversation.


See everyone on the court




Carlos Villicana

Team Esface Mental Coach