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Matthew Finnighan considers if high self-esteem is always great for sports.

Confidence and high self-esteem have always been promoted as the best, most important aspect of one's personality, for numerous positive reasons. Self-love has become this major sociological and societal movement that is primarily targeting the youth of the world in terms of helping everyone feel satisfied, confident, and in love with who they are. This applies to people in different industries, careers, genders, etc.

Traditionally, those in sports are usually seen as members of society who do not have issues with self-esteem. Some of them even go over the top and claim to be the 'God' of a certain discipline, for example, like Zlatan Ibrahimović does. Of course, when you are playing football that well, you might as well confuse yourself with a higher being, but in such high self-esteem always good to have in sports? Let us find out.

The 'Better Than Everyone' Phenomenon

Sometimes, high self-esteem might be associated with overconfidence and the so-called 'better than everyone' phenomenon or illusory superiority. The reason for that lies in the fact that a certain person, in this case, someone in sports, believes things would fall apart without them. These people also believe that a certain discipline would not exist without them, or that the world will never see someone as good as they are.

Usually associated with lack of humbleness, and commonly based on outstanding results, this phenomenon has proven several times to be a rather big disadvantage to one's ability to continuously provide exceptional performance. The need to stay at the very top of the game can be overpowering for one's both physical and mental health, as well as for the social relationship with the team. Not to mention that it can leave the team disrupted due to the self-centeredness of such a personality.

Self-esteem and ego

It is important to mention that at times high self-esteem is completely undeserved. Let us take football as an example; a football player can find greatness in the sole fact that he, or she, is a football player. This is enough to feed their ego to a great level, even though they might be bad, or at very best, mediocre players. Moreover, let us not forget how lucrative sports can be, as it can cash in millions for players in the bigger leagues, and hundreds of thousands for those in lower leagues. Either way, these are all things that can contribute to transforming a fairly confident player into an ego monster, especially if there is no base for such behaviour.

The psychology behind high self-esteem and its benefits, as well as downsides, is quite simple. If there is nothing one's high self-esteem is based on, then it might be bad for the player, the game, and the teammates. But, if there is a valid reason someone shows higher levels of confidence but is easily manipulated by the fame, the money and the power sports bring, then high self-esteem might just not work as well. Either way, for high self-esteem to create a positive outcome for a player, is to be both based on valid examples of hard work and one's ethical codes, humbleness, and morality.

The States and Their Differences

First of all, it is essential to create a distinction between high self-esteem, ego, and confidence in sports. Of course, each one of these states requires a basis and that is their primary connection. And, second of all they do not have to necessarily be bad, but they all carry certain downsides. For example, self-esteem and confidence can be gained through extensive training, can be put through the test, and show whether a person is respectful towards the opponents, or whether they are compensating and treating the opponent badly and disrespectfully. Both, the negative and the positive can be recognized pretty easily. Luckily, today we have numerous psychological researches, books, essays written on this type of behaviour by EssayShark, so it is pretty easy to spot, look into and understand.

Unrealistic Expectations

Okay, high self-esteem can be beneficial in case you want to convince people that you are good at something. Of course, you need to also prove it, but chances are that the player with higher self-esteem might make it into the team. Those are usually the people who, when said they cannot do something, do it anyways and have everyone convinced at first. However, this can also be devastating in the most critical moments when everyone has created high expectations from you; due to your high self-esteem and confidence. This can help the player deny his or her shortcomings and put the game at risk of losing.

Moreover, the saddest part is that many other players would love to be a replacement for such an egotistical player, which shows that no matter how confident you are in your game if you are not good, you are replaceable. This realization can negatively affect a person's psychological health and leave deep scars of disappointment. Nothing good comes out of this, so overly confident people sometimes need strict and harsh coaches who can see through their weaknesses right away and possibly fix them.

No Room for Growth

Another thing when it comes to overly high self-esteem in sports is that it leaves no room for growth. A player who is so confident in their abilities and believes that there is no need for improvement will eventually become mediocre and fall behind the rest of the team. A true sports player understands the importance of constant training, improvement and will not miss a chance to try and achieve greatness. However, an overly confident and borderline egotistical player will use every opportunity to not do the aforementioned; they already feel like they are shining the brightest. Not to mention that these players can also use their self-esteem and confidence to hide the fact that they're not prepared, do not train, are weak, and not up for the game.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • FINNIGHAN, M. (2019) Self-Esteem [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Matthew Finnighan is a skilled freelance writer who has great experience in journalism. He is educated on a wide variety of topics, such as psychology, literature, education, and sports.