In part 2 of our series on building confidence, world-class mental performance coach John Haime shows how to improve your game by choosing proactive, rather than reactive, confidence.


Let’s begin with a concept that might be unfamiliar to you: Maintaining confidence is within your control and is more of a choice than you know. Accepting this reality helps you take responsibility for your own confidence and can change the game for you.

Great players are proactive with their confidence. When they’re playing well, you can be sure they remind themselves that they’ve done it before and have built the fundamental foundation at each level of development to handle any situation at their current level.

This kind of proactive confidence is a decision that you’ll be sustainably confident from all of the great, positive experiences you’ve had in the sport (and, if you think about it, there are many), all the work you’ve done on your polo skills, and the coaching and support you receive. This is the foundation of your belief in yourself as a player. Proactive confidence is a choice to rely on a solid, fundamental foundation and be sustainably confident. It means your confidence won’t be shaken by small, unavoidable cycles when you’re not playing at your best.

On the other hand, some players insist on sabotaging their belief in their abilities. Reactive confidence is a decision that one small collection of challenging circumstances or difficulties will prevail over your successes and support and crack your polo foundation of confidence. In this scenario, you are declaring that your confidence is shaken by small failures.


Often, I hear athletes declare after a stretch of poor performance that their confidence has gone. But where does it go? After a little down cycle, it’s important to remember that reactive confidence is essentially a choice to lower your confidence and allow challenges and distractions to penetrate your foundation.

Does this sound familiar? I see it every day, even among the top players in the world. For some reason, they aren’t performing well and the foundation of confidence they’ve built over many years seems to suddenly disappear. A few mistakes become the basis for the crack in their foundation of confidence. The good news is that after being gently reminded that their confidence is about everything they’ve achieved and all the work they’ve done over time, there’s an “ah-ha!” moment. Confidence returns because they make the decision to recover it. They take full responsibility for their confidence, knowing they have control over it.

This is important for you to know. If you can feel your confidence slipping away, you have the choice to reel it in and not declare to yourself that you’re losing it. This is what the top athletes do to ensure consistent, sustainable performance.

NEXT IN PART 3: Now that you have an understanding of confidence, the next steps are to continually build your foundation so that small, short-term failures don’t penetrate it. John Haime explains the critical components of confidence and shares how elite players build them up.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Haime is President of New Edge Performance. A world-class Human Performance Coach for athletes, executives and artists, former professional athlete and current bestselling Author of You are a Contender! Build Emotional Muscles to Perform Better and Achieve More, John understands how athletes think and feel. He’s been there—under the most intense pressures of amateur and professional sports. He is trusted by a wide range of clients including some of world’s leading professional and amateur athletes. John coaches professional equestrians and up-and-comers with a proven system generating measurable results for clients. He has certifications in psychology, neuroscience, emotional intelligence and coaching.

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