Gaining confidence by taking ownership…

Athletes often emphasize the crucial role confidence plays in their performance. It’s a common refrain: “the more confident I am, the better I perform.” Yet, maintaining high levels of confidence, especially in the dynamic and competitive environments athletes face, is not always easy.

So, what should athletes do when their confidence wavers? Engaging fully in a sport requires a high level of energy, which is often fueled by confidence. When confidence is high, athletes are more relaxed, experience less negative self-talk, and can quickly recover from errors, staying focused on the next play.

The key to confidence is competence, a central concept in Deci and Ryan’s Self-determination Theory of Motivation. Achieving confidence is not as simple as just telling yourself to be confident. It requires dedicated effort to develop competence, which extends beyond physical skills. Building a mental framework for before, during, and after competition demands deliberate practice and repetition. This process, like learning any new skill, can be slow and challenging.

Taking ownership of this process is essential. As Zlatan Ibrahimovic famously said, “I decide my future. I decide what I want to do. Nobody else.” Athletes must be the captains of their own ships, constantly preparing for the challenges ahead. Regularly practicing mental skills, such as journaling before bed, can significantly enhance mindset and resilience.

While you may not always know how to overcome every challenge, preparing your mind alongside your body will equip you with the inner confidence to tackle any obstacle that comes your way. This mindset not only helps you overcome challenges but also prepares you for future endeavors, ensuring you emerge stronger and more resilient.