The difference between confidence and ego in sport

the ego

With modern marketing and social media channels galore it’s easy to follow your favourite sporting athletes and get a little glimpse into their lives and perhaps a better understanding of what they’re like as a person.

Unfortunately though it has given many sports people (and anyone for that matter) the outlet to share their brash confidence and feed their ego’s…but where does the line cross between being plain confident and being egotistical, what’s the difference between confidence and ego in sport?

Everyone has their own standards, and I guess a different tolerance to how much they are exposed/expose  but in the end I think it comes down to an important factor…respect with what they are referring to.

No one is immune to ego, it is something only you can pick yourself up on (or perhaps get subtle hints) You would have seen it before, someone who displays confidence walks the walk so to speak, lets their actions speak louder and is always there for the good of the sport (without hidden agendas).  On the other hand however being egotistical is that annoying behaviour that someone portrays (foot in mouth) and is a poor loser.

I love a humble athlete. Someone that doesn’t shove their successes down others throats and is just plain happy to win for themselves and their families/coaches. They are able to laugh at themselves when things don’t go their way and accept responsibility for their performance. They are never bigger than the sport.

I always found competing in ocean sport a great grounding.  Sure, things might of got  a little crazy over the peak of my career but I knew I just had to cop a few good sets on the head going out through the surf and it brought everything back into perspective.

let it go

Here are some other ways to keep your ego in check


1. Embrace your competition – without them there is no such thing. Acknowledge that everyone is there to win and stop approaching it like a ‘battle’

2. Be respectful to your competitors – no need for over the top, just say it like it is and praise them for a great performance. You don’t have to leave it until the end of a competition either but show your camaraderie before the event.

3. Challenge yourself, enter something you know you are no good at but willing to give it shot. Learn to lose gracefully and grow from defeat. You learn more from loss than you do from success only if you own it.

4. Sporting events are not necessarily about doing your best, this may not be enough on the day. The important thing to remember is your opponents only have to work harder than you, not THEIR hardest to win. Make them earn their worth and work like they have never before if they want to cross the line first.

Sport is a great life lessons but it is not life. It is easy to get caught up in the bubble that sport gives but it’s also very grounding to test your worth outside of sport with all aspects of your life.

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  • Kirsty Russell

    Very Well said Karla… I had this occur with my son just on the weekend! At Footy their team were winning with a huge lead. My son scored 2 tries but show boated across the line…. boy did we have a conversation after his game!! No one loves a show off but everyone respects a good sportsman.

    I like your comments and will be using them!! I especially love point 2 I think we need more of this in this day and age! Thanks for this lovely reminder to continue to teach our kids (and ourselves) humility and good sportsmanship!!

    • Thanks Kirsty, yes it has been a post that has been brewing for a while now…I too am having life lessons with Ella but from a different perspective…being a gracious loser at nippers…hmmm at least you have got one thing right LOL

      • Kirsty Russell

        ugh the joys of kids lol

  • Vanessa

    I love this blog. Yes, if you’re in the stage of life that success is left and right, be thankful for it.

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