Want to be the best you can be?

After another man of the match performance for Spurs this evening Gareth Bale is being hailed as one of the hottest properties in football. Watching him in both games against Inter Milan it is easy to understand why, yet until recently Spurs fans wanted him out of the club and there were rumours of him going on loan to Burnley.

So what has changed?

One of the main factors in his sudden elevation is the huge leap in his self belief and confidence. You can see every time he gets the ball that he expects to be able to beat his man. This level of self belief is making him virtually unplayable at the moment. The Inter right back is Maicon, a very highly regarded Brazilian who has been destroyed over the 2 games by Bale.

Confidence is a huge factor in achieving success in sports. Believing that you are going to be successful is half the battle. Huw Jennings, one of the coaches at Southampton says the coaching team at Southampton could always see the potential Bale had and were encouraged by the fact he was receptive and willing to listen and learn. He would put in the hard work that was necessary to be successful and all that was lacking was that extra bit of belief in himself needed to fulfill that potential. He suffered with fitness issues in his early years but had the strength of character to overcome these problems and soon started to attract the attention of scouts from other clubs.

“He has clearly become mentally stronger for the problems he endured during his early teenage years, when people wondered whether he would even make it as a scholar, let alone as a professional. It’s no surprise that he’s come back after that initial blip at Tottenham. He’s experienced similar before and come through. His story serves as a great lesson for young players out there, that they should never give up. There’s a lot more to come from Gareth Bale, believe me.”

Steve Redgrave also has a similar view on the importance of self belief:

When we came off the water having just won the gold medal in Sydney, the BBC was waiting to interview us. “When did you know you’d won the race, Steve?”

“After 250 metres.” “D’you mean with 250 metres to go,” Steve Rider corrected me, clearly thinking I’d be crazy to imagine the race won after only an eighth of the distance. “No, I mean after 250 metres,” I said. I wasn’t joking.

I know that some people thought I was arrogant. That’s a peril of self-belief. It might have appeared arrogant in that exchange with Steve Rider, but it was only the truth.

I genuinely felt that at the time, mainly because the belief doesn’t spring from nowhere. It arrives because you work like a dog for years and years and years.

Self-belief is probably the most crucial factor in sporting success. The bodies are roughly equal, the training is similar, the techniques can be copied, what separates the achievers is nothing as tangible as split times or kilograms. It is the iron in the mind, not the supplements, that wins medals.

The value of self belief can be applied to all walks of life, be it sports, business, personal, whatever. This is where coaching comes into its own, as one of the major outcomes in a successful coaching session is an improvement in an individual’s self belief. We can coach someone on sales skills, time management or communication skills and they can take away specific action points that will improve their skill set but it also leads to an increase in that individual’s confidence that they are now better equipped to deal with a particular situation. This in itself has a positive effect on the subsequent outcome.

It is the same with Bale and Redgrave, they have both worked extremely hard at their particular sports and have developed their knowledge and skill to meet the demands of their role. What then sets them apart from their competition is their attitude and belief in themselves.

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