If you want to reach your potential as an athlete and go as far as you can in your sport, then you’ll need self-confidence to help you get there.
Physical talent, strength, great reflexes, coordination and endurance are not enough. You have to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND YOUR ABILITIES. You have to develop that inner “knowing” that self-confidence is all about. It’s what you see and hear in every great athlete. Inside they KNOW that they are good. They feel it, believe it, walk it and sometimes even talk it. In a way, it comes down to what you TELL yourself.
Note that this is NOT the same as the overly-confident athlete who talks a big game and brags about how great they are with little to back it up! Real self-confidence is always accompanied by the willingness to put in the work necessary to show what you’re capable of.
Most people think that confidence is something that comes with success. First you have success, then naturally your self-confidence will follow. Right? WRONG! I’ve seen athletes who experience tremendous success yet have very little self-confidence, chalking their success up to luck or some other external factor while continuing to be filled with worry about the next competition. I’ve also seen athletes who don’t perform very well, yet believe in themselves with full conviction and ultimately improve over time to pull their skills up to the level of the confidence they’ve had all along.
If you want to start to GROW your self-confidence then you must give credit where it is due and celebrate your successes – no matter how small – and likewise stay positive when failure or setbacks knock you off your feet.
You must act like your own BIGGEST FAN – someone who believes in yourself NO MATTER WHAT, especially when obstacles are plenty and the going gets tough.
So here are some exercises to help you do just that!
1. Use positive affirmations
You become what you think about most of the time, so find an area where you have little confidence and deliberately begin to change your negative self-statements. Come up with a statement that neutralizes any negativity and motivates or relaxes you instead, such as “I am cool and calm under pressure” or “I am completely here and now, ready to flow with whatever comes next” (more examples in my Facebook post here). Affirmations should be positive “I” statements and cast in the present tense.
Take one or more of the affirmations you’re working on and print or write them down on small cards, then place those in your room, locker, changing bag, school books, wallet, car, and anywhere else you’re sure to see them every day. Focus on these self-advertisements as frequently as possible, making sure they’re the first and last thing you see daily.
3. Pre-sleep technique.
Take one affirmation and work on it for at least a week in the following way: after you turn off your light and are laying in bed ready to go to sleep, begin to slowly repeat the affirmation twenty times. Keep count with your fingers on both hands and be sure to get through all 20 before allowing yourself to drift off to sleep. As you repeat each affirmation, see if you can create images in your mind to go with your words. Try to see, hear, and feel in your mind’s eye the “reality” of your words.
4. Victory log.
Keep a journal or log of all your successes. You can include newspaper clippings, letters, comments from coaches or anything else that represents the things you’ve done well and the obstacles that you’ve overcome – big or small, anything that lifted your confidence. Be sure to ONLY log the positive. Reread your log often, and ESPECIALLY when your self-confidence has been shaken by a rash of errors or setbacks.
5. Wall of fame.
Make a wall in your room a motivational guide. Include memorabilia from your successes, pictures of your heroes, slogans or statements that make you feel inspired, and anything else that will constantly remind you of WHERE you are going and the FACT that you CAN get there! Be creative and remember that you want to keep your victories directly in front of you, while also learning from failures and setback and letting those go.
YOU WANT TO WORK ON DEVELOPING A LONG TERM MEMORY OF YOUR SUCCESSES AND SHORT-TERM MEMORY OF YOUR FAILURES.
Additionally, learn to improve your overall self-talk so you can get your head off autopilot and be in control of what you think, and therefore how you act!
Where Slumps Really Come From and How to Help Struggling Athletes
Resources for Coaches: Common Questions and Answers
How to Read and Address Your Level of Nervousness