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Self-Confidence in Sport

Dodge Ball: A True Underdog Story

Summary of movie or situation

“Dodge Ball: A True Underdog Story” is a 2004 American sports comedy film focuses on a rivalry between the owners of Average Joe’s, a small gym, and Globo-Gym, a competing big-budget gym located across the street. In the film, the owner of the smaller gym, has defaulted on his mortgage and enters a dodge ball tournament in an attempt to earn the money necessary to prevent his gym from being purchased by the founder of big gym an Average Joe’s gym’s arch-rival, who plans to build a new Globo-Gym parking lot for their gym members. Globo-gym soon enters the tournament with his team when he becomes determined to ensure that Average Joe’s gym fails. Throughout the movie the team members of the Average Joe’s are struggling with constant defeats, humiliation, ridicule from peers and crowd and need acquire confidence and  to be self-motivated in order to outperform Globo-Gym competitors.

Discussion/analysis of topic

Athletes and sportsmen talk about self-confidence all the time. Self-confidence is described by many sport psychologists as a belief that one can successfully perform desired behavior (Weinberg & Gould, 2015, ch.14).  It is also the strength or the extent of personal belief in own ability to reach goals and complete tasks (Omrod, 2006). A high expectancy of success is what generally characterizes a self-confidence. It can help individuals raise positive emotions, help concentration, set goals, increase effort, focus their game strategies, and maintain momentum (Highham, Harwood, & Cole, 2006, p.96). “Dodgeball” depicts the positive character traits like persevering against impossible odds, believing in yourself and others, and encouraging  teammates to give their best performance. As a matter of fact, in the film LaFleur, as a self-declared coach, demonstrates a genuine compassion for the regulars at his gym and his teammates. In the movie, while highly comical, a group of so called amateur athletes are teaming up against qualified and confident professional “dodge-ballers” in order to achieve their one and only goal to win and to stay in the business. When they feel confident it looks like their mind is set free to focus on the task at hand (Omrod, 2006). In a course of the movie I also see that once they lose their concentration it immediately affects their performance as well. Interestingly, this film serves as a proof of the most important theoretical relationship between confidence and performance. Skinner & Benjiman (2013) suggested that such factors as personality characteristics, competitive orientation were important determinants. Throughout the whole story I notice comically exaggerated personalities that somehow are fused together to create an ensemble of most unlikely teammates to succeed. Their secret to success is to boost each other’s confidence, create team support and improve on self-efficacy (Sadri, 2011, para:6-11). From the very beginning it is transparent how the uplifting of their confidence affects their game strategy as well. In theory, people in sport refer to playing to win or in other words playing not to lose (Bandura, 1977). Confident athletes like the opponents of the Average Joe’s tend to play to win. They are not afraid of chances and always take control of the game to their advantage.

Being self -confident it is also believing that you are special as famous boxer Muhammad Ali once said: “I don’t think it’s bragging to say I’m something special” (Karageorghis, 2011, para: 45).

Connection to course material

While examining this movie from the theoretical point of view I came to a conclusion that evidently confidence can influence affect, behavior, and cognitions and play an important role in creating a successful team or a player (Weinberg & Gould, 2015, ch.14). First of all confidence improves positive emotions: when a team of Average Joe’s athletes appears in the film I initially see a team of non-confident teammates who are not assertive and not aggressive at the same time contrary to all of their opponents. In a course of several games Average Joe’s increasing support for each other raises their confidence levels and makes them to be more productive and facilitates success. It is hypothesized that organizational culture as well as demographic and personality characteristics influence sport confidence (Perry, 2015). Organizational culture represents the structural and cultural aspects of the sport subculture, which can include such things as level of competition, motivational climate, coaching behaviors, and expectations of different sport programs. Evidently a non-judgmental organizational culture is portrayed by the members of the Average Joe’s Gym.

In addition, personality characteristics (e.g., goal orientation, optimism) and demographic characteristics (e.g., sex, race) affect sport confidence. On the other hand, lack of confidence undermines performance since it creates self-doubting, anxiety, break in concentration, and cause indecisiveness (Weinberg & Gould, 2015, ch.14). Several times during the film these breaks in concentration, indecisiveness almost cause players on both sides their game, especially during the moment when they face savage and over competitive team of Girl Scouts. Finally, I would like to discuss overconfidence as portrayed by the brush and ignorant members of the Globo gym. In 2003 Woodman and Hardy published a meta-analytical study where they demonstrated that confidence in 89% of cases served as a positive determinant of success. However, they also concluded that failure to win by highly successful teams was a result in a belief among the team members that they can win without a significant effort or just by showing up, exactly like it happened in the movie.


The analysis of the “Dodge Ball: A True Underdog Story” has demonstrated strong relationship between confidence levels and how successful team will become. The film, though  hilariously, confirms findings of several studies that there is also a significant connection between how confident the coach and the team members are need to be to boost performance  (Veasley & Chase, 2008). Additionally, the events in the movie support the notion that overconfidence is attributed to the poor performance in some cases where success is believed to be expected. It is important to note that support from peers, team members and most importantly coaches creates a good dynamics and leads to building of  resilient confidence as a key to success in a competitive event and also to a mental toughness (Bull et. Al., 2005; Jones et. al., 2002; in Horn (2008)).

Finally, I’ve learned that being self-confident helps me as an individual to raise positive emotions and helps concentrating on a goal at hand, whereas lack of confidence, as also clearly demonstrated in the movie, creates unnecessary anxiety and leads to poor performance.


Bandura, A (1977). “Self-efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change”. Psychological Review. 84 (2): 191-215. doi:10.1037/0033-295x.84.2.191

Highham, A., Harwood, C., Cale, A. (2006). Momentum in Soccer: Controlling the Game. ISBN-10: 1902523733.

Horn, T., (2008). Advances in Sport Psychology, ISBN # 9780736057356

Karageorghis, C. (2011). Sports psychology: self-confidence in sport – make your ego work for you! Peak Performance Lite. Retrieved from on Mar 8, 2017.

Ormrod, J. E. (2006). Educational psychology: Developing learners (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.

Perry, J. (2015). Sport Psychology A Complete Introduction, ISBN 9781473608474

Sadri, G. (2011). Boosting Performance Through Self-Efficacy. Association for Talent and Development, June 19, 2011. Retriever from on Feb 28,2017.

Vealey R. S., & Chase M. A. (2008). Self-confidence in sport. In T.S. Horn, (Ed.),

Advances in Sport Psychology (pp. 66-97). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Weinberg, R. S., & Gould, D. (2015). Foundation of sport and exercise psychology (6th Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Woodman T, Hardy L., (2003). The relative impact of cognitive anxiety and self-confidence upon sport performance: a meta analysis. J Sports Sci. 2003 Jun;21(6):443-57.

Skinner, R, Benjiman R., “The Relationship Between Confidence and Performance Throughout a Competitive Season” (2013). All Graduate Plan B and other Reports. Paper 285.

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