Is confidence the key ingredient to mental performance excellence? Do you feel like you need to be confident in order to perform at your best? Many athletes would say yes. But think about this, "can you measure confidence?" Where is this magical confidence meter that we are all waiting for? Truth is, while confidence is helpful to perform, you don't actually need it to perform well. In this blog, I will explain why we don't need confidence to perform well, how we can build deep levels of confidence to aid our performance, and methods to use when its presence is shallow.
1.) Why we do not need confidence to perform well: Let's state the obvious. Yes, if you are more confident it's easier to perform better. And if you are not confident, peak performance will be more difficult. However, it is not absolute.
Confidence is an emotion. And emotions do not dictate success, behaviors do. Confidence is helpful but not necessary. It helps put the focus on task execution instead of emotion. But you can recognize that and still opt to focus on task relevant cues instead of what you are feeling. So if confidence is an emotion, and emotions do not dictate success, then you do not NEED confidence to perform well. That should provide some optimism knowing that there are going to be times when you won't be confident, but that does not dictate how you perform for the rest of your competition. So what do you need? Keep reading!
2.) How to build deeper levels of confidence:
You might have heard, "confidence is a choice." Wow I forgot it's that easy! That made me feel great, let me hit the confidence button, I forgot to turn that on (sarcasm). But is there truth to that? To an extent, yes, with mindsets.
A.) Perspective: If we can learn from mistakes, and we have a learning mindset then we can find appreciation in our mistake. Train this by being more aware and reflect on mistakes you have made both in life and sport and how you have learned from them.
B.) Replace "confidence" with "competence": Reminding yourself of what you are capable of is competence. If you have executed great moments in your sport/competition, then it is already programmed within you. The more times you execute these actions, the more retrievable this code is.
C.) Additional Training: Increased repetitions executing skills and tasks that you may struggle with helps create a program that is more accessible and deeper engrained into your mind.
3.) What do you need when you are not confident?: This is your key ingredient: Focus.
A.) Small Goals: Shift your focus on a simple controllable task to complete. Don't try to redeem yourself with a magical moment. Work your way back into your rhythm one small step at a time.
B.) Neutral Thinking: Negative thinking has 7x more of an impact than positive thinking (and not in a good way). Yet, positive thinking can be difficult to do in tough times. So instead of thinking "just be confident" think of "what is required of me at this very moment?" This pulls that 5-10% of your conscious mind away from the emotion and toward the behavior needed.
C.) Effort: We will all make mistakes, but effort is a choice. So if you turn over the puck and stop skating to feel sorry for yourself instead of working back on defense, you're just making matters worse. There's a quote that goes "when I'm not inspired to do something, I'll do something and then feel inspired." Remember to focus on what is in your control! Effort is easiest to control.
If we can build confidence, wonderful! Because it is helpful. But do we NEED it to perform well? No. Confidence is fleeting, it will come and go, much like motivation, there's little substance to it. Discipline runs much deeper than motivation like focus runs much deeper than confidence. So look remember your tools and that behaviors drive success, not emotions. For more training, worksheets, and your personal guide to develop sport psychology skills, schedule a free consultation with me and let's get to work!