The Importance of Confidence


All the practical and physical skills in the world won’t get you very far without confidence.


I have been the lucky recipient of confidence from my years of playing sports. My initial journey into sports started as more of a follower who was intrigued by learning new things. I tried many different sports growing up: equestrian, cross country, volleyball, track, field hockey, skiing, figure skating, but lacrosse was the one that stuck, and lacrosse helped me get to where I am today.

My confidence spiked tremendously through one conversation with my lacrosse coach at Duke University coach Kerstin Kimel. She said “Gone are the days where you can lead by example. I want you now to step up and be a vocal leader on the field.” I was elected captain that year (my first of three years being captain) and of course was hoping that my hard work would speak for itself (spending 1-2 hours out of practice everyday doing wall ball, sprint workouts or strength training). For Kerstin, she had higher expectations and wanted to develop me into a leader. That one conversation changed my life and gave me the confidence to be an All-American (South Region) lacrosse player, to reach the Final Four and to later become an orthopaedic surgeon for Yale and USA Lacrosse. I started encouraging my teammates, even on days where I was not having the best practice, pumping up everyone in the weight room, and delivering some poignant half-time speeches. I figured out that confidence was not just showing you are the most amazing player ever, but it was the optimistic decisive belief that my team was the best in the country.

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Confidence in sports and life starts with thinking confidently and preparing confidently. In order to feel that you or your team can accomplish a lofty goal, trust in your teammates, trust your coaches and trust your training. You have to BELIEVE in those who are achieving a common goal. Prepare confidently. Do not just hope and wish that a dream will come true, strategize on tactics to reach that dream.   Come up with your team motto. One I personally like is: “Comfort is the enemy of achievement,” stated by Farrah Gray.

Confidence also trails over into the real world after sports. In the operating room, I have a team that I need to lead to success, an anesthesiologist, a nurse, a resident, a surgical tech, and of course my patient. I need to walk in preparedly optimistic, decisive, astute and surgically skilled. My confidence is what motivates my team to precisely and perfectly make each move to complete the task and hand—GETTING THAT ATHLETE BACK ON THE FIELD.

I will always be grateful for the confidence instilled in me back at Duke in 1996!



Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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