Playoffs Are The Most Stressful Time Of Year – Keep Your Confidence and Stay in the Game

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Championship teams have learned how to be confident under pressure. Your team can learn the skill of confidence too.

Confidence might seem like a small thing when you’re talking about the playoffs, but it’s a lot more important than you might guess.

When you’re focused on the big game, the last thing you want to feel is fear or anxiety. Psychologists say that confidence reduces fear and anxiety.

More confidence also means greater motivation. Think about your greatest accomplishment or something that makes you feel confident. Chances are that achievement took a lot of perseverance. If you could triumph through adversity then, you can do it again now.

And that’s not all.

If you can learn how to be confident, you can also learn to be more resilient. One of the best things about confidence is that it gives you the coping skills and methods to handle failure and setbacks.

Now that doesn’t mean if you’re confident you’ll never fail. You will. But if you have confidence, you will better know how to handle challenges instead of being crippled by them.

Confidence Is a Skill

Many athletes believe that confidence is something that you’re born with. But in reality, learning how to be confident is a skill that you can develop. It just takes effort, focus, and repetition. With any type of skill, practice makes perfect. Learning how to be confident is no different.

One of the problems with learning how to be confident is that you can practice both good and bad confidence skills. When you are negative all of the time, you’re practicing and ingraining negative confidence skills.

The problem with that is that you are enforcing a bad habit that will actually hurt you during the big game. Believe it or not, it is possible to become highly skilled at something that hurts your athletic performance.

Much in the same way that you can develop a bad technical habit, like a baseball player opening their shoulders too early when they swing, the same holds true for confidence. You can actually become very skilled at being negative. And that’s not good for anyone!

In order to change bad confidence skills, you have to retrain your thinking. The best thing you can do is to practice good confidence skills regularly.

If you do it enough, you will break the old negative habits, and you will be left with new positive skills in confidence.

8 Tips on How to Be Confident During Playoffs

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It’s not hard to learn how to be confident. You’re going to need that confidence in the postseason. Here are eight tips on how you can increase your confidence during the playoffs.


Create a ritual and stick to the routine that got you here

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One of the things that athletes have to battle during the playoffs is pregame nerves. Uncertainty is a big factor in those pregame nerves.

So, one of the best things that you can do before a postseason game is to limit the number of choices that you have to make. Sticking to your game day ritual or routine is a big part of that.

Playoffs aren’t a time to experiment. Stick to the routine that got you here. Don’t try changing up your whole game plan or routine. Just stick to what worked for you during the regular season. Stay consistent. And be confident knowing that consistent preparation leads to consistent athletic performance.


Use motivational quotes and videos

Part of learning how to be confident is staying inspired and motivated. So, when you’re getting ready for the playoffs try finding some inspirational quotes or videos to get the team pumped up.

Here are some good examples:

“Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.” – Lou Holtz

“Never say never because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” – Michael Jordan

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky


Listen to music

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When you’re working on how to be confident, you should consider music. Listening to some inspiring music is a great way to get pumped up for the playoffs. Studies have shown that music can relieve stress and anxiety.

Before a big game let the team put together a playlist that will inspire and make players feel powerful.


Banish negative self-talk

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When you’re learning how to be confident, it’s important that you get control over your negative thoughts. The brain is a powerful tool when you have control over your emotions and thoughts. However, if you don’t have that control, negative self-talk can completely derail your confidence.

If a young athlete is having trouble with negative thoughts, you should encourage them to cut the thoughts off dead in their tracks.

Instead, have the player repeat a phrase like, “I can do this!” over and over until they truly believe it.


Keep your concentration and focus away from the uncontrollables

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While we’re talking about how to be confident, it’s important that we acknowledge that there are many things that we simply cannot control during the game. When players focus on those uncontrollable factors, they are more likely to get nervous, lose confidence, and play badly.

Try making a list before your playoff game of all of the things that you can’t control. Some of those things might include the officiating, coaching decisions, winning or losing, or even the weather on game day.

Post your list of uncontrollables in a highly visible place in the locker room. You should know that everything on that list is a mental trap.

Those uncontrollable traps are lying in wait for every player on your team. And the best way to avoid those traps is to know that they’re there!

If you catch yourself focusing on the uncontrollables, it’s essential that you quickly refocus your attention on the things that you can control.


Know how to quickly refocus your teammates

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You are going to face adversity during playoff games. It’s inevitable. Not everything is going to go your way. And when things go wrong, it can be easy for the team to lose confidence.

That’s when the coaches and team leaders must find a way to refocus the team.

There will be times when players feel down, distracted, scared, or irritated during the game. But you can’t allow your teammates to go into the tank when you need their performance, focus, and confidence.

The best players and coaches will have the ability to refocus their teammates. Depend on those people. They’re the key to keeping the team competing throughout the game rather than succumbing to the distractions, adversity, and hassles of the competition.

Being able to quickly refocus the team can make the difference between a championship and a big fat L.


Compete aggressively

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Playoffs are not the time to play it safe. The postseason is about giving it your all and fighting for a championship. So, get out there and play with intensity and passion. Take it to the other team. Set the tempo. Live for the day! Usually, the more aggressive team comes out on top. Get after it!

It’s also important that you keep your focus on yourself and your play. As we’ve already discussed, don’t fret over the things that you can’t control.

It’s a lot easier to stay calm and confident when you stay focused on you and your job.

The best advice I can give you is don’t compare yourself to other players. Concentrate on yourself and rely on the skills that you have developed throughout the season.


Take a deep breath and become a team of destiny

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Many championship teams believe that they were destined to be so. No matter what the game may throw at them, whether they were down with only seconds remaining in the game, had a key player go down with an injury, or just weren’t getting good calls from the refs, they still somehow manage to reach the ultimate goal.

Your team could be destined for greatness too. You made it through the regular season to the playoffs. Now it’s time to remind your team that all of the training and practice has prepared you for this moment.

You and your team need to believe that this is your time. Championship teams know how to be confident. They focus on their destiny. The USA women’s soccer team accomplished this by repeating the phrase, “This is the team, now is the time.”

A Final Thought on How to Be Confident During Playoffs

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You can learn how to be confident during the playoffs by following our simple tips. It just takes some effort and practice. And you have to keep your mind right.

It can be very easy for players to get caught up in the last play or even the last game. But you don’t want the last pitch to affect your next pitch.

So the other team scored? Okay, it happened, now move on. Don’t let the next play go south because you’re still thinking about the last score. Don’t dwell on the negative.

Try coming up with a physical cue for putting the bad behind you. If your team misses a fly ball in the outfield, maybe pick up some grass and throw it over your shoulder. Let it go and focus on the here and now.

Now we want to hear from you! Let us know in the comments section below what you think about our guide on how to be confident. And share with our readers if you have any other great tips for dealing with the playoffs.

Have a great day and happy postseason!

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