Defining Your Self Concept in Sports

self concept

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Who am I? It’s a question many people ask in life. Self concept is important in every aspect of life, but many people are unaware of just how important it is in the athletic industry. Athletes are men and women with a very specific skill set, and they must know who they are, what they bring to the table, and how they are perceived by others to help them define their skill and talents. Self concept is not something that’s taught at school. It’s something you learn on your own, and it’s something you must learn to define if you want to succeed.

Defining self concept as an athlete is important. The image you have of yourself is important when it pertains to your overall success. If you don’t have the confidence and proper self-awareness to understand your talent, you’re not achieving the best of your own abilities. It’s time for you to learn how to define your self concept so you can see yourself in an accurate light. What and how you feel about yourself has a direct and immediate effect on how you respond to others, how you perform, and how you succeed. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of how they can define their own self concept.

What Is Defining Your Self Concept?

Defining your self concept is something you learn to do as a child. It’s also helpful for you to learn to do this as a child since you are more confident and aware. Children don’t have as much time in the real world to have anyone else affect their views of themselves. They’re still young and innocent, and they are not yet at the age where they begin comparing themselves to others and what they perceive as successful.

For example, imagine a small child who loves superheroes. He believes he is one, and there isn’t anything an adult can say or do to convince that child he cannot grow up to become a superhero in real life. He’s begun, already, to view himself as strong, capable, and able to do anything he wants to do if he puts his mind to it. That kind of self-awareness is impressive, and it’s important. It might seem like a fairytale belief to the adults in his life, but the concept he’s developing of himself is positive.

Other Factors in Defining Self-Concept

Self-concept is defined throughout life. It all begins with kids who feel they are superheroes who can do anything, and it changes over time. The way they interact with others, the way others respond to them, and the way they feel they fit into social groups and other groups help them pinpoint their self-awareness. This is why it’s so important to talk kids up by not calling them names, but telling them that they can do whatever they put their minds to and by teaching them that there are no limits to what they can achieve. Factors that come into play include:

  • Social abilities
  • Competence in life
  • Physical appearance
  • Academic achievement
  • Family relationships

These concepts are all important when a person is learning to define their self-concept. Each one has its own way of helping a person form an opinion of themselves, and each one is important at a different level for each person as an individual.

Why Defining Your Self-Concept is Important

Defining your self concept is important because it’s how you view yourself. Oftentimes, athletes have two different perceptions of themselves. They have their public self concept and their private self concept. They see themselves in one way on the field or the court and another in their private life. For example, it’s not uncommon for an athlete to feel like he or she is the best at what they do, to feel like a superstar on the field or court, and to feel like they’re never good enough at home. They know they’re good at what they do, but their self concept isn’t as good behind closed doors. Here’s why defining self concept is so important for everyone, including athletes.

It Affects Self-Esteem

Self concept is not the same thing as self-esteem, though many people make that mistake. Your self-esteem is how you feel about yourself, how much you approve of yourself, and how you like yourself. It’s defined by your self-concept. The more you like yourself, the more self-esteem you have. This makes you more confident. It makes life a lot easier. When you go into any sport or other activity with the self-confidence to know you’re good at what you’re doing, you’re going to perform better.

It Affects Your Views of Failure

As an athlete, you will not always win. There are times when someone is faster, stronger, or better than you. You will lose, and you will need to deal with that. Sportsmanship is important, and it’s often defined by your self-concept. When you know that you’re good at what you do and you have confidence in your abilities, you tend to handle failure in a more positive manner.

You view it as a learning experience rather than a defining moment in your life. Those who have a negative self-concept tend to have low self-esteem, and they tend to take failure personally. They’re not good enough. They can’t do it. They are a failure. Defining your self concept in a positive manner helps you build your self-esteem on the field or court, and it helps you handle failure with grace and dignity, which can help you get better by improving your game or skill rather than wallowing in self-pity.

It Helps You Become Who You Want to Be

Who am I? That’s the question people ask when they want to figure out who they are by defining their self-concept, but it’s more than just that. Who you are today is not the same person you were yesterday, and it’s certainly not the same person you will be tomorrow. When you learn to develop a healthy self-concept, you develop a healthy self-esteem, and you get to improve the person you are tomorrow. Your self-concept helps you become the better person you will be as you get older. It helps you become a better athlete, a better teammate, and a better person as a whole.

Tips for Defining Your Self-Concept

Developing a healthy self-concept is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself, and these tips can make it easier on you to develop a healthy self-image.

Think Positively

It’s difficult to learn to replace your negative thoughts with positive ones if you’ve allowed negativity to become the voice with which you speak to yourself regularly, but it’s possible. Start by writing down two or three things you like about yourself each day. It can be something you did, something you said, or something you liked that day. Every day, you focus more and more on what you like about you, and that helps you replace your negative thinking with positive thoughts. It quickly becomes a habit.

Don’t Exaggerate

When speaking to yourself, stop using phrases such as “always” and “never” during your internal monologues. You might always love chocolate, but you are not always a failure. You cannot tell yourself that you will never amount to anything. Instead, tell yourself that you failed once. You didn’t amount to what you thought you would in that one instance. It helps improve your vision of yourself.

Learn from Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. Instead of taking them personally when you make them, own the mistake and ask yourself what you can learn from it. Did you have a way to prevent that from happening? If you did, remember that next time. If you didn’t know that what happened was even possible, you know now, and you’re better prepared. When you remember that every single person in the world makes mistakes, it’s easier to learn from them rather than beat yourself up over them.

Focus on Your Cans

You can do so many things. You cannot do other things. Rather than focusing on what you cannot do, focus on what you can do. For example, a professional quarterback does not focus on the fact that he cannot catch a ball and tackle his opponents. He focuses on the fact that he can quickly assess the men on the field, find the one who can catch the ball, and throw a perfect spiral. If he focused on the fact that he cannot tackle or catch the ball very well, he isn’t focusing on his strengths or helping his team. A fish swims well in the water, and he doesn’t focus on the fact that he cannot fly. What’s the point? Focus on what you can do.


Developing a positive and healthy self-concept as an athlete is important to your game. Your talent is something you have by yourself. No one else has your skills. When you learn to talk to yourself in a nice voice, when you learn to stop caring what other people think, and when you learn to focus on the good things you can do, you help yourself change your own opinion of yourself. That’s a healthy way to live. Be nice to yourself, and learn to appreciate what you can do and your own set of personal athletic skills. Your team needs you to focus on what you do well rather than what you don’t do well.

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