Confidence is most commonly viewed as driven purely by innate ability or personality. While there may be some traits that allow one to be more GENERALLY confident than others, (I’m not an expert in psychology), I think that self-confidence, or lack thereof, is a state of mind. However, I don’t think this mindset is necessarily learned or just happens when telling yourself to become more confident. Confidence in one’s self can be ever changing, and stem from previous experiences that effect our daily behaviors and encounters with new experiences or challenges. This is why we can be more confident on some days or on some things than others, and as we get more experienced, we can become more confident. Because we are always approaching new challenges every day in training, I want this post to shed light on the things we can be mindful of in training to foster self-confidence.
Day in and day out, you put in the physical work, hoping for physical gains. While this training is indeed intended to help our bodies adapt and be more fit, in the grand scheme of things, it’s all work to make you more confident in yourself to perform, whether in a competition, or simply being ready to handle new or more difficult challenge.
Positive thinking, practice, knowledge, and support help can help improve this state of mind. While one may carry a larger importance, I think having a decent helping of each is key.
Positive Thinking: I think a big separator between good and great athletes is having true trust in your abilities and skills. Some are better at this than others, but you have to find the positives in your journey. You can put in all the work in the world, but if you are constantly negative about your performances, the training is a wash. Constantly finding ways to put yourself down, even in the midst of a personal record or a minor accomplishment, never equates to a boost in self-confidence in the long run. If you can’t talk positively during practice, it for sure will not happen on the competition day or when you try to move from a basic skill to a more advanced one.
Practice: I think practice might be the biggest determining factor in improving your self-confidence. It’s your dedicated time to improve upon your physical skills and abilities. When you have weaknesses, you have to put in the practice. You can do all the mental prep in the world, but nothing makes you more confident than actually feeling and performing the skills repeatably. This seems obvious, but I think in CF, many of us don’t do enough to really perfect the skill. We get to a point where we can do a couple reps but aren’t looking deeper into how difficult the skill is in multiple environments like fatigue or stress. Being a perfectionist in practice and being consistent will only boost your confidence in performing a skill in these environments.
Knowledge: I think we’ve hit this on the head a lot with posts on mindful training. Yes, being smart does improve your self-confidence! Knowing the right plan when you attack competition or knew challenges allows you to perform without hesitation or second guessing. You can be confident in giving a full effort based upon your smarts. Having a greater understanding of training principles like heart rate control, breathing, pacing allows you to train properly and get the most out of each intended session. Knowledge and an understanding of your limits and abilities is also important. You are what you repeatedly do and you need to be smart and level headed when you attempt harder challenges or when in competition. You should have realistic expectations on the task based upon your previous or more recent experience with the skills.
Support: While this sounds mushy, confidence is largely dependent by external support. I’ve seen the effect certain coaches, parents, and peers have on one’s lasting self-confidence. While some may need more than others, external support is always a positive and when times are tough, you should always feel comfortable talking with a coach, family member, or friend about it. Training and physical fitness should be a lifestyle. When you have a supportive group around you who always giving you reassurance that you can do it when you might not think so, maintaining self-confidence is much easier.