3 Steps to Playing Confident When a Recruiter is in the Stands

Positive Coaching Alliance | Coach Renee Lopez | 3 Steps to Playing Confident When a Recruiter is in the StandsIn presenting College Recruiting Seminars and for The Positive Coaching Alliance, I regularly interact with the parents, coaches, and administrators of high school student-athletes. Once they figure out I have been a college coach for 14 years, they often ask me the best ways to showcase their favorite student-athlete to a coach in search of that elusive athletic college scholarship.

After one seminar about 2 weeks ago, I spoke with one sophomore female soccer player and her parents about where she was in the college recruiting process. The parents told me their daughter had invited some college recruiters to watch her play at a major national college showcase tournament (ECNL) for that upcoming weekend which was taking place here in central Florida.  We discussed a bit about her position on the field, how much she loves her club team, and the types of colleges she thinks she wants to attend.

Since I had attended this specific event many times recruiting as a college coach, I asked her if she was excited to play this weekend. Her response:

“I am sooooooooooooo nervous! I don’t want to mess up as this is a really big opportunity! I heard lots of coaches will be attending our games!”

This conversation stuck with me on my drive home as I had heard another similar comment from a baseball player over Christmas break. These conversations led me to make a phone call to a very close friend of mine, Tami Matheny. Tami is a Mental Game Coach who has worked with my college teams for many years, and continues to work with college and high school student-athletes all across the country. (See her full bio below) As the Owner of Refuse2LoseCoaching, LLC, she works with coaches, student-athletes, and teams to improve areas such as confidence, focus, motivation, mental toughness, leadership, teamwork, etc (the list could go on and on!). She can help transform your mindset on any challenging situation. I always want her working with my teams as she was very critical to take them to the next level! She helps to transform the locker room by developing leaders, building confidence, and changing negative thought patterns.  She is the real deal in helping with mental training skills! Lucky for all of you, she has now compiled her many years’ worth of training into a book titled The Confident Athlete: 4 Easy Steps to Build & Maintain ConfidenceToday, I asked her to share a few ways to play more confidently when a college coach is watching.

Tami Matheny:

I recently was at a high school basketball tournament.  Like many events, the gym was full of college recruiters watching the athletes.  The team I was working with had several prospective collegiate athletes on their team.   Earlier in the year, I had been with them at a preseason game in which the gym was pretty empty, except for some parents and a few friends.  In that game, they walked out on the court with extreme confidence and maintained it throughout the game regardless of circumstances.

During this tournament, I quickly noticed a difference in their confidence level.  These girls were so self-conscious, their body language was meek, and the tone in their voices were different.  I noticed several glances into the stands.  Why?  What changed these seemingly confident athletes into a bundle of nerves?  It was the presence of the college coaches.

If this has ever happened to you, here are 3 simple steps to keep your confidence strong:

1. Self-Talk

Your self-talk is all the thoughts you have to yourself. Your self-talk can make or break you. If your thoughts are centered around what the college coaches think about you, you are likely to get more nervous. If you change your thoughts to things you need to focus on during the game, you will tend to keep your confidence. Often athletes make the mistake about thinking/talking about a result, instead of thinking/talking about what they need to do (and if they do that the result is more likely to be achieved).

My advice to this team was to think about things that would help them to be successful. Each time, they had a thought about the college coaches being present, they were to immediately think of something that would help them in that game. For example, when one of the girls went to the foul line (regularly, a very good shooter), but had missed several foul shots. I asked her what she was thinking. Her answer was, “Please don’t miss this! What will the college coaches think?”

I then asked her what she normally said to herself at the line. Her response, “I’ve got this, nothing but net!”. I challenged her to get back to those successful thoughts instead of the non-productive thoughts. The next time she was fouled, she changed her thoughts and her shot was nothing, but net! In the first scenario, she was focused on what the coaches would think. In the second scenario, she was focused on being confident and seeing the ball go through the net!

2. Body Language

Your body language not only talks, but it screams! Make sure you go to the field, court, pool, etc with strong body language. Have your head up and your shoulders back. If you have poor body language (head down and shoulders slumped), you are sending a strong message to your team, the opponent, the college coaches, and more importantly, to yourself that you are not confident. If you carry yourself confidently, your thoughts will follow!

As I noticed this taking place with this basketball team, I had them all stand in a power pose (ex. stand like Superman: hands on hips, chest out, and head up) during a timeout as the head coach talked to them. I then challenged them to maintain strong body language at all times on the court. It was rewarding to see these girls overcome their self-consciousness by focusing on their body language. Slowly, they started taking over the game. Whereas the opponent started displaying frustration with bad play and mistakes, this team responded with strong body language when anything good or bad happened.

Self-talk and body language go hand in hand. By combining these 2, you can create any emotion you choose. If you want to be happy, think happy thoughts, put a smile on your face and carry yourself as though you are happy. I guarantee before long, you will be happy. Our bodies display what we are telling them with our talk and how we are carrying those thoughts with our walk. Therefore, if you want to be confident (regardless if you feel confident or not) start talking the talk and walking the walk. Fill your brain with confident images, thoughts, memories, etc. and carry your body upright, with a little bounce to your step and watch your confidence build.

3. See it

See what you want to happen.  Seeing yourself being successful in vivid detail (visualizing) plants seeds of confidence.  I asked the same basketball team to see themselves making their shots, running their plays, and playing good defense.  Then, I asked them to see an image of themselves as being confident and successful.  Seeing things in your mind creates a strong foundation for confidence.  When we see things over and over with as much detail as possible, our minds don’t always know what is real and what is imagined.  Visualization is an important mental skill for all athletes to use especially for those that are nervous or struggling with confidence.

What you focus on with your talk, in your walk, and in visualizing images, has a large impact on your success.  If you start to work on these three skills, you will see your confidence improve and enable you to better handle stressful situations such as college coaches in attendance.  Like any physical skill, these skills take practice.  Start talking the talk, walking the walk, and visualize what you want to be!

Thank you, Tami for always providing a great perspective in refocusing our thoughts in stressful situations!!! You can contact her tami@r2lc.com and follow her on twitter @R2LCoaching. You can also purchase her newly released book, The Confident Athlete: 4 Easy Steps to Build & Maintain Confidence, here.

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Coach Renee Lopez

Looking for a Full Ride? by: Coach Renee Lopez

As a 17 year coaching veteran, Coach Renee Lopez is a recruiting expert for high school student-athletes. She uses her NCAA Division I, II, and NAIA Head Coaching experience to help families navigate the recruiting process to be identified by college coaches and help them find the right “fit” for playing at the next level. She has produced 3 All-Americans, over 30 All-Conference athletes and Her teams have been honored with awards for team academic accomplishments, sportsmanship, and sports ministry. In addition, Coach Renee Lopez has been named Coach of the Year by her peers.

She presents recruiting seminars across the country, has recently been featured in USA Weekly, with the National Alliance for Youth Sports, on SiriusXM Radio and ESPN Radio. She is the author of the book, Looking For A FULL RIDE?: An Insider’s Recruiting Guide where she has interviewed over 65 college recruiters across all sports and college levels. In addition, she runs 9 Facebook groups to help facilitate conversations on college recruiting education, coaching education, leadership development, and sports ministry. She is also a certified speaker, trainer and coach for the John Maxwell Team, Jon Gordon Company, 3Dimensional Coaching, and the Positive Coaching Alliance.

She also does private consulting for student-athletes and their families to help in understanding the often daunting process of recruiting. (See one family’s testimonial.) If you are looking for help in the college recruiting process, please email Coach Renee Lopez at info@lookingforafullride.com.

Did you know Coach Renee Lopez can come to your school or sports organization?

Email info@lookingforafullride.com for more details.

Would you like her to do individual consulting with your family to get an insider’s perspective?
Email info@lookingforafullride.com for more details.

About Tami Matheny

Tami Matheny is Owner and Director of Refuse2LoseCoaching, LLC and Co-Owner of Success for Teams, LLC. As a Mental Game Coach, she works with coaches, athletes and teams to improve areas such as confidence, focus, motivation, mental toughness, leadership, teamwork, etc. Her book, The Confident Athlete: 4 Easy Steps to Build and Maintain Confidence was released this past week!

Matheny has a passion for sports and how the mental game affects performance. As an athlete, coach, administrator and now Mental Game Coach, she has seen first-hand the difference mental toughness coupled with physical training translates into individual and/or team success.
When not training others, Tami remains physically active. She has completed a handful of marathons, including the Boston Marathon and ultramarathons. Her longest race to date is a 40 miler. She is an avid cyclist, completing rides over 70 miles. Matheny continues to seek new mental and physical challenges. For more confidence tips and information on The Confident Athlete follow Tami on Twitter (@tamimatheny, @R2LCoaching, @tamimatheny, @successforteams), Instagram (@refuse2losecoaching), www.r2lc.com and www.successforteams.com.