Why Confidence is Just A Feeling

I have had a few head coaches that I really respect disagree with this statement that “confidence is a just a feeling.”

Folks on twitter have messaged me with their own arguments about confidence. Even some mental coaches disagree with this statement.

But, I’ll defend it…I’m stubborn.

It is the most important part of mental toughness, because it’s the most difficult and it  affects all other skills.

It’s second tier on the hierarchy of Mental Toughness because we do things and attempt things we’ll be successful at and believe that we can do. Belief & trust are also the same concept. So, why is it just a feeling? 

Research has shown that there are four sources of confidence. Physiological states are one source. How we feel!

  • When athletes or musicians perform at their best, I ask them; what were you thinking about? Their answer………” nothing.”  They were in the moment, in flow. 

  • Have you ever finished a workout or a run, looked at yourself in the mirror and thought, “Hey, I look good.” Honestly, you look absolutely no different from when you began, except you now feel different. 
  • Elite performers all stress that when they are playing their best, the event actually slows down. They feel in complete control.
  • The first thing that goes when an athlete starts performing poorly is the lack of FEEL. Their play or technique may look fine, but if they don’t feel confident, they will search to get that feeling back. 
  • Our prayers are not automatically answered, but we feel better after doing so, or even meditating. We feel at peace. 

Body language doesn’t talk, it screams.

Mental coaches, myself included, teach ways to become confident by changing our physiology, our body language, and how we feel.

If trust wasn’t a feeling, then why stress focused breathing, becoming centered, or getting B.I.G.?

What happens when we lose confidence however is that our feeling now turns into thoughts. We just begin to think too much. We no longer trust our instincts, our gut. Instead, we get stuck inside of our own head and try to think our way into right acting.

The real key is still finding a way to win when we are NOT confident! 

Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books on Mental Toughness 


The Toxic Mentality

I have bad days, I get down.

I lose belief and I’ll feel like I am not good enough. I also have days where I do well, but for many reasons, I just didn’t perform up to my own standards.

I don’t like feeling like this way, so what occurs when I get like this however is I develop the toxic “at least” mentality.

“AT LEAST” I ran today, “AT LEAST” I am not as slow as that person, “AT LEAST” I showed up, “AT LEAST” we played well.

What I am really saying to myself is “at least” I am not a loser… But, I am also saying, I am not a winner…The “at least” mental state is dangerous and systemic. Once it enters our vocabulary either within ourselves or our team, it can easily seep into our core beliefs.

The “at least” attitude means we chose to make an excuse. 

Settling was okay. Mediocre wasn’t all that bad.

Going through the motions became an option. We chose to live inside the comfort zone. I basically valued my self worth as a “maybe” rather than a “yes.”

The toughest part of winning is the will to prepare.  Committing  to everything that is needed to win, means developing a winner’s mindset as opposed to an “at least” mind-set.  We must instill the belief that we deserve what we are going to achieve because of our preparation, because at no point did we settle.

However, what lacks is the belief…We develop an “at least” mentality because we wanted, we just weren’t willing… We weren’t really willing to sacrifice, willing to develop the needed focus, or willing to work on our weaknesses. We looked around us and said “I’m not all that bad.” Preparation and motivation involves the belief in oneself and that our goal or vision can be reached! Setbacks, adversity, and struggle are going to happen, but it is how we overcome these obstacles.

The bottom line is that losing happens way more than winning ever does. There is always a runner-up finish, a 2nd place team, and second best in show. The question must be asked,  is “at least” mental state an acceptable option for you?

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- 50 Ways to Win: pro Football’s Hinge Moments  

Three ways to improve your teams motivation. 

Most coaches, executives, and owners want their team to be more self-driven and internally motivated. However, the measures that leaders employ are usually all externally driven. We often refer to outside measures to help facilitate change, namely rewards for good results or punishments for poor effort or outcomes.

If you are searching for more internal drive from your team, here are three metrics to examine. 

A-   Autonomy- People need to feel empowered in their position, that they can make decisions on their own and have a voice in their development.

R-  Relatedness- People want to feel a part of the team, that what they do matters, and they are contributing to something larger than themselves.

C-   Competence- People want to know that they are good at what they do. We do activities and perform tasks in which we are competent.  Confidence breeds success.

If a team is lacking in mental toughness and motivation, perhaps one of these principles is off.  For example, a person may feel he/she can make decisions (High A) and is good at it (High C) but not part of a team or recognized for their effort (Low R).

Here are three ways to improve the internal motivation.

A-  Autonomy- Have individual 1-1 meetings and regular check-ins with your team. Ask for and get their input about what is working and what needs changed.

R-  Relatedness- Have functions or competitions. Internal competitions are good; it can build the strength of a team and hanging out with one another enhances the camaraderie.

C-  Competence- Studies have shown that individuals will meet the expectations set forth by their coaches. In turn, positive feedback for effort increases the internal motivation, while negative feedback will decrease one’s motivation.

Sources:  Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268.

Need an assist evaluating which of these qualities most applies to your team? Contact us below…

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   


sport psychology internship

Sport Psychology Internship

DRB & Associates, based in Indianapolis, IN, offers a 4-5 week, unique applied sport psychology internship (End of May- End of June). This will be open for only one or two qualified interns.


DRB & Associates ( offer mental training to athletes, coaches, and teams in and around the greater Indianapolis region. Summer interns will have direct observation with a professional team and applied experience with elite level athletes. Objectives will address performance enhancement with athletes.


  • Main objective will address performance enhancement with athletes.
  • Facilitate Mental Toughness workshops to athletes.
  • Naturalistic observation and feedback of athletes, coaches, and
  • Assist with leading and enhancing mental toughness schedule.
  • Weekly sessions with team members on building a consulting business.
  • Provide support with DRB projects.
  • Supervised AASP Hours.

Requirements & Guidelines:

  • Approximate 20-30 hours per week
  • Must have valid driver’s
  • Non-paid internship.
  • Must relocate for one month.
  • (Preferred) Current graduate or undergraduate student.

Application Materials:

  • Current resume with 3 references.
  • 1 page cover letter expressing goals of future within field and why a good candidate.

     Please send electronic application and resume to Nicole –