Self-efficacy is the psychological term referring to a person’s belief in their abilities to perform¹. In sport, self-efficacy can be viewed as an athlete’s ability to achieve their goals or successfully perform a vault in gymnastics.
Athletes who have high levels of belief/self-efficacy think they can perform well and consider tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than avoidable tasks². Evidence suggests that athletes with high self-efficacy levels are more likely to perform better, commit to their goals and be resilient 3,4.
“I know that it’s possible that I could win the French Open. Last year was by far my best clay-court season, I had some good wins and even in the match I lost against Novak, I played well, my best performance at the French Open. Then in the Davis Cup final against David Goffin, I feel like I played some good tennis in that match. It’s the first time I’ve had good wins on clay against the best players and that obviously helps with the belief.” - Andy Murray
You can develop your belief in your ability to perform through:
- Good planning and preparation
Spend time planning activities with your coach so you know you are ready and prepared for upcoming competitions. You can also keep a training diary to see what progress you have made.
- Remembering past performances of when you have been successful²
Remembering past performances can help you to build confidence and motivate you to achieve success.
- Gaining feedback from coaches
Speaking with your coach during practice to get detailed feedback on performance can help you identify specific areas of improvement and make the necessary adjustments and increase your ability to perform the task well.
- Watching videos of yourself performing and using your own internal feedback
Watching videos helps you to critique your performance and review your ability to perform well in that situation.
- Developing a good social support network (friends and family) helps as they can give you encouragement at key times2
Friends and family can contribute to building self-efficacy by cheering you on during games; optimism has also been found to help golfers to suppress self-doubts and overcome issues.
This article was co-written by Govundeep Sidhu, who has graduated from Leeds Beckett University with a grade 2:1 BSc (Hons) Psychology degree
- Bandura, A. (1989). Human agency in social cognitive theory. American Psychologist, 44(9), 1175-1184. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.44.9.1175
- Valiante, G., & Morris, D. B. (2013). The Sources and Maintenance of Professional Golfers’ Self-Efficacy Beliefs. The Sport Psychologist, 27(2), 130-142.
- Beattie, S., Woodman, T., Fakehy, M., & Dempsey, C. (2016). The role of performance feedback on the self-efficacy–performance relationship. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 5(1), 1-13. doi:10.1037/spy0000051
- Beauchamp, M., Bray, S., & Albinson, J. (2002). Pre-competition imagery, self-efficacy and performance in collegiate golfers. Journal of Sports Sciences, 20(9), 697-705. doi:10.1080/026404102320219400