How Confidence Differs From Life and Sport
By Kathryn Mellon, iNSPIRE Psychologist
Confidence – It’s a funny thing. You could be the most popular kid in school, outgoing, full of energy and always making people laugh. But step on that gymnastic floor, climb up onto the 3m springboard or hit the court or field and something changes. Nerves start to creep in and you start to feel unsure of your ability. I’m sure everyone has experienced a time where they have been hitting the time, skill or game play EVERY SINGLE TIME in training but as soon as competition day looms something happens and it just doesn’t stick. That’s life, it happens, and it is important to remember we can’t always be perfect. However, if this is happening to you at every competition maybe there is something else affecting your performance.
There are many reasons why you may lose confidence come competition day. A fall during practice, high level competitors, fear of failure or simply being unsure of yourself are all factors that can make you second guess yourself and what you can do. Confidence is described as “a belief in one’s self and one’s ability to succeed.” So how do we go about increasing or managing our confidence?
1. One day at a time
There are going to be days, competitions and practices that are harder than others. Take everything one moment at a time. Don’t let one bad performance, affect the rest of your day or season. It is important to be able to put it behind you and focus on what comes next. For individual sports this could be another race or apparatus on the same day that you will need to refocus on. In a team sport, the game may be only partway over. If you dwell on your mistake, chances are you will make another one. Wipe the slate clean, move past it and refocus on what the next step is.
There will be times where you will have a bad training session. Your confidence is shaken and now it’s all you can think about. You begin to doubt yourself and don’t believe you can perform that skill any longer. Remember what you think affects how you feel and the way you behave. So let’s not dwell on the negatives. Every day after training, write down three things you did well during that session and one thing you would like to improve on. There should always be something good you can take away from the session and it is important to focus on the positives that you have achieved and what you did well on each day.
Hopefully you will have set some goals for the season or competition you are working towards. As you progress throughout the season take time to look back and reflect on the goals you have set. Have a look at how far you have already come and how much you have already achieved throughout the season. You may surprise yourself. If you need too, alter or add some new goals around where you are now.
4. Focus on what you can control
Control the controllable. Other competitors, the weather, the status of the apparatus, you can’t control any of those things, and if you begin to factor them in it can impact your performance before you have even started! Focus on yourself – how hard you train, your sleep, what you eat and how you go into competition FEELING. The more prepared you feel, the more confident you will be.
Relax, take a big deep breathe and enjoy where you are. There is a reason you play this sport and there is a reason you train every week. Remember the hours you have put it on the training field, the pool or in the gym. Enjoy the journey that it took to get there and go out and show yourself exactly what you can do.
A message from the author, Kathryn Mellon:
“I hope this gets across to people to who can relate. As a swimmer, there was always this looming countdown