Confidence. We know what it looks like in others and we have experienced this in ourselves. When we are feeling confident, life unfolds in an effortless way, and nothing can stop us at this moment. Life is easy, we find ourselves moving forward creating and reaching our goals because we are fuelled by that extremely powerful engine of self-confidence.
Exemplifying this would be Roger Federer, a player who we know with absolute certainty possesses that winning attitude of confidence. He wins his matches because he believes he will win, despite what his opponents throw at him. Federer has spent 302 weeks at number one in the charts, which is no easy task. In winning 17 Grand Slams and 6 world tour finals, he is the most consistent player, ever. And, outside tennis, Federer was voted most respected in the world after Mandela. Make no mistake, Federer was not born with confidence, he learned it. He is as human as the rest of us, capable of undermining ourselves and equally as capable of unleashing our full potential.
We all create barriers that limit us, but with proper training these can be overcome and the reconditioning process for building self-confidence can be simple and direct. Just like physical training, mental conditioning takes practice and patience.
We all have weaknesses that will limit our performance. There is no shame in this, as it is what makes us human. But, it is entirely possible and achievable to change our weaknesses into power. Your weakness is not a problem but offers an opportunity to find a solution that will make you stronger. If you really want to improve your training and build confidence, you need to go out of your way to address and correct your weaknesses.
First step, take personal inventory. Be brutally honest with yourself, locate your weaknesses and get started on addressing it. By working on the weakest link in your chain and making that strong, you will improve. By addressing your weakness, you will be prepared, confident, resilient and be able to handle your competition with the grace and ease of a Roger Federer. Because you are prepared, you will be able to shrug off pressure and play your game to your maximum potential.
Is your weak link, self-acceptance? Do you attach your success or failure on the field to who you are? Learn to separate the sport you play from who you are and be very mindful of that distinction. Athletes often use their scores or performance to define their self worth. A lackluster race performance does not indicate that you are a poor athlete nor does it reflect on your potential for future races. Lighten up on harsh negative self talk and negative self judgments and accept yourself as valuable regardless of outcome. Replace statements such as, "I screwed up today." with "I am going to be fully prepared next time for whatever comes my way." Initially this may be challenging, but at the very least you can tone down the volume and significance of these self attacks. We are our own worst critic, the world certainly does not see us in the light that we often shine on ourselves. Learn to treat yourself as you would your best friend or someone closest to you.
Choose a positive quality you want to develop. For example, you may aspire to be calm under pressure so that you are resilient to setbacks and able to face adversity head on. Select another person who possesses these qualities. This could be a peer, a coach, a pro athlete, someone that you can connect to that is doing what you aspire to do. Create an image of that person, clearly in your mind as though you are watching a movie, rewinding, pausing and playing until you feel it for yourself. That energy you can take and apply to your own performance and it will become your own.
Finally, think back to a time in your life when you excelled, when you performed at your absolute best. This could have been at a competition, or an interaction you had with someone or an accomplishment not even related to your sport. It is a moment when you achieved your peak performance. Connect back to that event; what were you doing, who was with you, where were you, how were you feeling; incorporate as many senses as possible into this movie. Now, replay it in your mind fully experiencing it and essentially reliving that event. Know that you achieved that success because you were confident and know that you can be this confident again to fuel your next performance. With this exercise, you are reminded that you have done it before and you can easily do it again.
Each one of us can decide to be confident athletes and confident in life. It takes a bit of practice and consistency but with that effort you will be rewarded and no longer will adversity and challenge control your life. Your positive attitude that comes with this confidence will unlock your full potential both on and off the field.
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Creating Peak Performances
"If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it." Tonny Lasorda