Having confidence is the key to achieving many great things - whether it's on the field or off of it. Highly confident athletes have the ability to focus on the task at hand and execute it, all while under intense competition pressure. Although some athletes have a natural "knack" for this, there is an element of control required that anyone can learn to increase their self-confidence.
Below are some strategies that can be employed to help you on your way:
1. Realize that confidence requires effort and is not a gift - Most athletes don't feel that gaining confidence is something that they can actively work toward achieving. Make building confidence a daily discipline.
2. Know your strengths - The last few weeks before a major event is when doubt and worry can creep up on you, so remind yourself how good you are. Have a list of your best attributes written down and/or imagine some of your best performances. Remind yourself that you have done it before and can do it again.
3. Focus on the positive - If you do something well, don't be afraid to compliment yourself on it. Believe you are awesome!
4. Talk nicely to yourself - Taming that voice in your head can be the most difficult and also the most crucial element in how your feel about life and obtaining confidence. Incorporate self-talk into your training sessions so that when the pressure is on, you'll have the mental strength needed to get through low points.
5. Surround yourself with positive people - This part is easy, try to have people around you that build you up and only want the best for you.
Psychological strategies can play a huge part in an athlete's success, adopting training programs that improve mental skills adds an extra advantage for the athlete trying to cope with the added pressure that competing can bring.
References from the SIRC Collection:
1. Covassin T, Pero S. The relationship between self-confidence, mood state, and anxiety among collegiate tennis players. Journal Of Sport Behavior. September 2004;27(3):230-242.
2. Hays K, Thomas O, Maynard I, Bawden M. The role of confidence in world-class sport performance. Journal Of Sports Sciences. September 2009;27(11):1185-1199.
3. INDIVIDUALIZED CONFIDENCE: Let elite athletes guide your self-confidence enhancement. Journal Of Pure Power. January 2010;5(1):65-71.
4. Koehn S. Pre-Performance Confidence as a Predictor of Flow State. Medicine & Science In Tennis. February 2012;17(1):16-21.
5. Levy A, Nicholls A, Polman R. Pre-competitive confidence, coping, and subjective performance in sport. Scandinavian Journal Of Medicine & Science In Sports. October 2011;21(5):721-729.
6. McCann S. What to do before hitting the road: Three key tasks while preparing for the "Big One". Olympic Coach. Summer2008 2008;20(3):20-21.