Confidence is one of the most important mental skills every performer needs to work on. In the mental training, we would like to instill a belief: Confidence is a skill. What do athletes do with skills? We train them and confidence needs to be trained.
In work with athletes, we have heard a lot of athletes say flat out that “I do not feel confident in my game.” What does this mean? Usually it means they aren’t seeing the results they want to see. It means they may not be feeling they are on the right path to compete at their expected level. The truth is that sometimes we need to find ways to compete differently than the way we feel. How do you do that? Let’s unpack the skill of confidence to find out.
First let’s think of confidence in terms of general self-confidence as a person. It’s usually shaped by life experiences and the narrative that you live on a daily basis. Every person has a book of experiences which shape their narratives and belief systems. We can intentionally focus on the the values which shape your belief system. These values guide your decision making as you write each new chapter in your story.
Next we will look at your sport self-confidence. From the time you started playing your sport to moments when your sport participation changed in each competitive arena. Think about what values shape you as an athlete in your sport as well as a competitor. These sport values take shape in the self-talk you use to describe your beliefs about your vision of play. “I am a great [add your sport]” or “I am a champion”.
Finally, every day to constantly work on confidence every training session we need to think about micro-success in terms of our fundamentals. We call this sport skill-based confidence which can usually fluctuate the fragile nature of confidence that we feel day to day. As we work on specific sport skills, we gain the mental edge that progress and a locus of control brings to our performance.
As you break down your own confidence it will help you to structure your understanding of what you are working on into these 3 levels. Remember that confidence isn’t a final destination. Confidence is a skill worked on every day because mental skills are meant to be practiced.