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Confidence is key

Don Rogers

So frustrating. The jump shot comes and goes of its own volition. I’ve always been a streak shooter, only in middle age the streaks where the shots all go in run shorter, and the other way lasts longer. Much longer.

There are others with better technique, lots of them. But technique is not really my problem. No, my issue is far worse. It’s all mental.

When I’m confident, the shot goes in. Basketball is a simple game, and a lot of fun then. When I think, when I hope, when I hesitate, when I’m unsure, well, the game isn’t so easy.



With shooting, you don’t think or hope, you know. That’s sports. It’s also everything else.

We live our lives in that flux. The most frustrating thing for me as professional observer is to watch people with brains and talent fail to act because they lack confidence.



Public speaking might be the most obvious manifestation of confidence. How many hams with just about zero to say get up and earn their applause with nothing but their confidence to get them through? I know a few. And the other, the pained struggle to present something of value, which largely fails on the speaker’s failure of nerve.

I think it was Isiah Thomas speaking in some newspaper article about basketball who said confidence was the hardest thing to keep going strong. There are always doubts in the shadows. And you can’t summon confidence by simple command.

It comes from talent, from being bold, from trying and trying again. It comes from turning off, or at least turning down the volume on your internal critic.



It’s a talent of its own, I think. It does seem to come more easily to some than others. I’m with the others, I’m afraid.

Ultimately, though, I think faith has everything to do with it. I don’t mean in the biblical sense of the word. Well, partly that, perhaps. But mainly trust that if you keep trying, you will figure out how to accomplish the task. If others can, you can. … That sort of faith. Which isn’t so easy either.

I have great faith, though it rests under a surface insecurity. I have to reach through my doubts to try, to get out there and take the steps that put me out there, naked as I might feel.

The key here might well be focusing on the mission and not the nakedness. With writing and speaking, it’s what do I want to try to get across rather than how I imagine myself looking as I try to do it.

Then, sometimes, something clicks. You know you can do this, and do it well. You shoot. It’s a swish. You just know the same will happen next time.

And then it’s gone, as inexplicable as how it came. Magic. All you can really do is trust that the magic will return, at least once more, and somehow have confidence that this is so. Even if you have to manufacture it. Keep the faith.


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