Champions League Semi-finals, 2014 FC Barcelona led almost the entire game, but SG Flensburg Handewitt managed to draw and after the added time there were penalties. Everyone scored except for Nikola Karabatić and the last, deciding penalty, was shot by 20-year-old Hampus Wanne:


An easy “suhi list” above Šarić’s head.

Where did he get the courage from to play like that with one of the world’s best goalkeepers?

The answer is self-confidence.

Looking at these moments, we can superficially conclude that self-confidence is the cornerstone of all sports achievements. Many consider that this psychological trait should be effected the most throughout education.

Is that really so?

Self-confidence is the measure of what Hampus think he is capable of doing.

So it is an inner feeling, an estimate of what he can do at a certain moment. Hampus felt he could fool Danijel and threw the ball easily above his head.

Had he felt he could not, he would have done something else. Maybe he would have done something “safer” and miss.

If Hampus’s self-confidence is good, he will also do all the things he is capable of doing. Problems arise when self-confidence is (too) low or (too) high.

When self-confidence is too low, Hampus thinks he can not do something he is objectively capable of and he cannot fulfil his abilities. He mostly harms himself because he is not capable of fulfilling talent and indirectly harms the team because he does not give as much as he could.

If it is too high, he thinks he can do things he is unable to do. He harms the team the most because he tries to do things that he can not, and the consequence of his mistakes distort the game of others.

Indirectly, he harms himself because the environment, due to exaggeration, creates such a negative attitude that it can hardly objectively evaluate his contribution.


One is useful to himself and to the environment if he is convinced he can do what he can, just like one is useful to himself and to the environment if he knows he cannot do what he cannot do.

Everything we do makes us more or less successful and our success depends on our self-confidence. The child has low self-confidence in math, but very high in handball.  He is highly confident in feinting to the left and his confidence is low when feinting to the right – depending on how successful he was before.

During a handball practice, Marina can easily score with a 6m shot to the corner, she knows she is capable of doing it. The question we ask ourselves is the following:

Why does the ball go past a goal or why does Marina shoot high or into a goalkeeper or why she does not shoot at all at the match?

Because at that point she is not able to score a goal as practice and match are not the same. The game is the same, and the difference is in a different understanding of the environment in Marina’s mind, i.e. what the game did to her thoughts.

Many will define Marina as a ‘looser’, ‘chocker’, and so on.


Darko has just scored a goal in the last seconds of an important match.

He plays better at matches than at practice, a match motivates him to do his best. While others make mistakes in stressful situations, to him, not only that they present a chance for making good decisions, but also for finding surprising solutions by taking advantage of other players’ mistakes.

He is a ‘winner’, ‘cool’, etc.


Josip is not very precise and at practices he scores only sometimes, he knows it is not sure if his shots would result in a score. Additionally, at each practice and match, he sees how other children do it with ease.

When in a possession of a ball, his first reaction is to try to pass it to a teammate.

Some coaches will conclude that he is aware of his own abilities, so they will try to reward him and allow him to play for some time. Josip is responsible.

Sanja is as precise as Josip, but she does not see it as a problem and does not care if she would miss and thus influences the score.

At each situation which she sees as an opportunity, she will shoot and will not care if she would score or miss regardless of the importance of the match and if the match is at the beginning or the end.

In most teams, she will play more than Josip, but never in important matches, and it is possible that she will have conflicts with the coach because Sanja is irresponsible.

Marina and Darko are equally (not)talented for handball, but at the matches, they play completely differently. Their environment perceives them with contradiction, and they themselves create a completely different perception of themselves.


Josip and Sanja are equally (not)talented for handball, but at the matches, they play completely differently. Their environment perceives them with contradiction, and they themselves create a completely different perception of themselves.

The schema has been drafted roughly and “not talented” does not mean that the player is unable to play handball, and “low self-confidence” does not mean that a player is scared or incapable.

There is a whole spectrum of diversity at players who are less gifted than those to which they are being compared. This division exists at all levels, even in the team of Olympic winners there are differences in the amount of talent and the level of confidence among the players.


Is Self-Confidence Raised by Raising Self-Confidence?


One of the bigger delusions of part of today’s parents and coaches raised in the authoritarian environment is the following:

Children should be praised

in order to develop self-confidence.

This attitude arises as a response to educational measures with which many have been faced while growing up, and they come down to a parental statement:

By telling them that they were bad and that what they did was wrong,

they will become good.

Of course, although complimenting is an integral part of the education, it is very dangerous to praise without criteria.

Everything begins in the youngest age by praising normal human functions:

Well done, you peed.

and continues with the praise of ordinary activities:

Well done, you got dressed all by yourself.

A coach who praises children because they come on time to practice or go back to defence after a mistake in the offence just fits in this destructive process.

As it is completely natural for the youngest to eat and poop, for a bit older to brush their teeth and wear clothes independently, it is quite normal for children to come to practice on time, tie their shoe-lashes and return to defence after the missed shot.

Excessive praise is a destructive process because it boosts one’s ego and a child creates a model of thinking:

Whatever I do, I expect to be praised

and when that praise is absent, the child feels deprived of something that belongs to him.


High self-confidence as a prerequisite for top achievement should not be an educational goal,

but a consequence of the integral development of all aspects of the child

(primarily a healthy sense of self-worth, self-reliance, personal and social responsibility) and his experiences until he reaches senior level.

In order to develop a balanced self-confidence in playing handball, it is of utmost importance that while growing up, a future senior is not derived from the experiences he is able to cope with, leading to the creation of the desired mental-emotional balance.

It is necessary to win and lose enough important matches, to score and miss enough crucial shots, to be praised and criticized, …

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