Coaches are always talking about the importance of self-confidence to their athletes and teams, claiming that you can’t become a champion without it! In fact, you’ll frequently hear them exhorting their players, “Go out there and play with confidence!” Let me state the obvious here: THEY’RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! In order for you to reach your goals and consistently perform to your potential, you must believe in yourself, you must be self-confident! However, let me state something else that’s also pretty obvious: BEING SELF-CONFIDENT IS FAR EASIER SAID THAN DONE!
Telling yourself to “Just believe in yourself!” or to “Be confident!” rarely if ever works! You can’t simply use “positive thinking” to feel better about yourself, because when push comes to shove and the heat of competition is turned up high, all those positive thoughts are about as effective as having a butterfly net and trying to stop a charging elephant! You just can’t talk yourself into believing in yourself or feeling more confident. It doesn’t work that way!
However, there is one thing that you CAN DO that will go a long way in improving your self-confidence. This peak performance stratefy will also help you avoid the mental mistake a lot of athletes make which leads them to getting psyched out and intimidated by their opponents. With practice you can master this very simple but powerfully effective confidence-building strategy.
In general terms, what I’m talking about here is learning to control your focus of concentration both before and during your performances. In more specific terms, you will start feeling much more confident by learning to keep your concentration on what YOU ARE DOING and NOT on what your opponent is doing! The reason many athletes fail to believe in themselves, even after multiple successes is that they spend too much time thinking about and focusing on their competition. They go online before competitions to “research” their opponent. They talk to teammates and coaches about the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. They go to bed at night thinking about them. The day of the competition, they focus on them during warm-up, and they allow their concentration to stay with this opponent during the game/match or race!
LISTEN CAREFULLY HERE! Allowing your competition to have this much “airtime” in your head will NOT mentally prepare you to beat them! It will NOT motivate you to peak performance! It will NOT keep you calm and loose leading up to the contest! What it will do is DISTRACT you from playing your OWN GAME, send your nerves into the “RED ZONE” and UNDERMINE YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE!
There is a “paradox” in beating any opponent: THE MORE YOU FOCUS ON THE OPPONENT AND THE NEED TO BEAT THEM, THE LESS CHANCE YOU HAVE OF DOING THAT! THE MORE YOU FOCUS ON YOURSELF AND PLAYING YOUR OWN GAME, THE GREATER CHANCE YOU HAVE OF BEATING THAT OPPONENT!
What this means is that starting today, you must discipline yourself to focus on YOU and YOUR GAME, and NOT your opponent’s. If you find your thoughts and focus drifting to them the night before, day of or during the competition, then very quickly return your focus to what YOU are doing. If you have to do this multiple times throughout a contest, then DO IT! If you train your focus of concentration to stay on YOU and your job, and away from your opponent, then you will find that your level of self-confidence will steadily rise!