‘Ineffective’. The words of Paul Jewell, describing the form of Robbie Savage. ‘Robbie is very low on confidence’, the Derby County manager continued to say. Robbie Savage – low on confidence? For a player who has made his reputation on his trademark ability to scrap, its an unusual revelation. Savage was the player who never ever seemed to have self-doubt. It was this sense of self-certainty that meant you either loved him, or hated him.
Paul Jewell goes on to suggest that maybe Robbie Savage is trying too hard. Maybe trying too hard to show he hasn’t lot that edge. Hasn’t lost that abrasiveness. Trying to prove that he still has the Robbie Savage X factor.
When a player tries too hard, they put more pressure on themselves than they can handle in that moment. Pressure that can come from reputation. Pressure that can come from expectation. For example, trying to play at an 8/10 level when in fact you are feeling at a 2/10.
When you try to play at 8/10 but feel at a 2/10, then the gap between the two, creates feelings of frustration. Frustration which means that you demand of the 2/10 that it plays at an 8/10. The 2/10 then feels bad because it can’t meet the demand that is put on it. Bad feelings; frustration; lack of understanding about why you can’t perform at 8/10. The harder you try the worse it gets.
The only solution to this dilemma, is to stop trying to perform at an 8/10 level. Set the performance bar much lower. Begin at a 2/10 level. Get the lost confidence back by doing simple things. Have success at 2/10. But make sure, that at 2/10. you commit yourself fully to what you are doing.
Once confidence is established at 2/10, then set the bar at 3/10 and build upwards. Build confidence. One step at a time. Until there is harmony between what you want to do and what you can do. Then confidence will be restored.
When a player has high expectations, they may baulk at setting the bar at a mere 2/10. But, it is the best and soundest way of rebuilding lost confidence. If they can swallow their undoubted pride!