Is Confidence a Gender Issue?

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8 Responses

  1. Peter Clinch says:

    I do workplace cycle training for NHS Tayside, it’s done with an annual “if you’re interested please fill in the form” and I see who we have and arrange lessons tailored to the folk involved.

    Most of my clients are women who state confidence issues. But, I do wonder if they’re possibly better at coming forward and doing something about it than the men who I generally don’t hear from?

    (Amongst kids at Discovery Junior I haven’t noticed any obvious confidence difference between boys and girls. You get no-fear merchants and I’m-not-doing-that types amongst both.)

    • Diana says:

      That’s really interesting about the children. I see the same in the children I have coached, there is no obvious gender difference in confidence levels.

  2. Alicia says:

    It’s a really important issue and I think one of the things that can make or break you as an athlete. I absolutely feel that one of the biggest things that can limit your potential is your mind. In Mind Gym, the authors say ‘beliefs drive behaviours – self-limiting beliefs lead to self-limiting behaviors’. If you don’t believe you can do something, there’s no way you will. Whether that’s in sport, or in other areas of your life. A fantastic example is Lizzy Yarnold’s interview after the last Olympics when she was asked whether she really thought she could win gold again she said something along the lines of ‘yes of course, I knew I could’. And that’s why she is the Olympic champion.

    In my main sport of lacrosse I make sure that I train as hard as I can so when I get on the pitch I know I deserve to be there. Then I go out and try to execute every part of my game as well as I can. I know I’m not the best player on the pitch but I also know I’m as fit as I can be, and I repeat my coaches mantra of ‘hustle beats talent, when talent doesn’t hustle’. This is the epitomy of my success as a lacrosse player – I spent years not making the national team because my natural skill was lower than others but I worked on what I knew I could change – speed, agility, fitness, stick work and I didn’t let my head go down. And eventually this paid off, and it’s because I told myself I deserved a place in that team – not by comparing myself to the talent of more gifted players, but just confidence that I had worked for my spot.

    When I race cross its only really as part of my lacrosse training but I still get nervous and I do the same as you and tell myself that everyone is nervous and makes mistakes and is about to chuck up a lung. No one racing is there for a toddle, we’re all in the red, regardless of whether we’re at the front or the back. I agree with your friend that women and men get equally nervous, but men have largely been conditioned by our social norms throughout their lives to push that feeling aside and show no fear. Down to exactly this we’ve got a big advantage as women as we in turn are more conditioned to open up and share our emotions. Role models in our sport (like Isla Short’s recent post on social media about Albstadt) need to say – look I doubt myself too, but this is how I control and use those emotions. And men need to do this too, and show that it’s also fine to be vulnerable. It’s our actions that define us, not our gender. I really hope we’ll soon be saying ‘why are some people more confident than others’, not ‘why are men more confident than women’.

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