How To Gain Confidence For Peak Athletic Performance

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I think it’s safe to say that confidence is critical for peak athletic performance…actually confidence is critical to reach athletic confidenceANY personal goal or peak personal performance!

In sports specifically, confidence is that belief in your ability that will affect your athletic performance on the field and in the weight room. Any questions, any doubts about your abilities will eroded your confidence.

Confidence and lack of confidence absolutely impacts your training and athletic performance.

How likely is a golfer to make a putt when they don’t really think he can make it? Do you think a baseball player who is struggling with their hitting will get a hit when they believes “I’m in such a slump; there’s no way I’m going to connect”?

As anyone can understand, these athletes are going to perform sub-par (no pun intended) and not up to their athletic potential, mostly because they don’t have confidence in their abilities.

So can someone wave a magic-wand and instill confidence in an athlete?

Or can you yell and plead with an athlete for them to have confidence?

Of course not!

Confidence in their athletic ability comes from all the successful little things they do and that they acknowledge. At times, athletes get so caught up in searching for confidence that they miss all the little things they are doing on a daily basis that serve as the foundation for athletic confidence.

Renowned sport psychologist Jim Loehr likes to refer to Tiger Woods and how strong his mental game is. Dr. Loehr says to pay particular attention to what Tiger says in the press conference after a round of golf.

Of course this was the “old” Tiger and it’s still useful to see the characteristics in Tiger that made him so great when he was at the top of his game.

Back when Tiger was doing great he may have missed every fairway and then reporters asking him questions like, “Have you ever played so poorly?” Tiger would respond with comments like, “My short game was really on today” or “I was able to get out of some difficult situations. I have an opportunity to go hit some drives today and come out with my A-game tomorrow.”

Side Note: It would be nice if Tiger could get back that empowering perspective.  Then again, it only takes looking at the little things.

Drawing confidence from the little things, even though the outcome is not what you may have wanted is very effective. There is a tendency to believe confidence is built solely on peak or breakthrough performances, especially during clutch situations.

Not so.

It’s essential to understand that confidence can, and does, come through the incremental successes athletes experience on a regular basis.

This quote by Roger Staubach, NFL Quarterback sums it nicely.

“Confidence comes from hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication. When I’m in the last two minutes of a December playoff game, I’m drawing confidence from wind sprints I did the previous March. It’s just a circle: work and confidence, then more work and more confidence.”

Confidence is a by-product from the day-in and day-out, week -in and week-out work an athlete is doing.

In your efforts to build and maintain athletic confidence, it’s important to focus on the little things that you are doing well. So, what are these “little things” that you can do to help develop a solid foundation of athletic confidence?

Below I present examples of some “little things” you can do that will assist you in building your athletic confidence.

Read through the questions then use them as a starting point to develop your own personalized check-list of confidence boosters. Identify the little, yet critical, things you do that you can draw upon when preparing for your next competition.

Each of the questions focuses on a mini-success that will help you build confidence by noticing what you are working on and taking steps towards in achieving your athletic goals.

So, let’s get started.

Here’s your fieldwork, identify a list of little things you do already that does or can fuel your athletic confidence.  Identify these “little things” today to further increase your confidence for peak athletic performance.

Acknowledge when you meet these goals. I know you can find something positive in every practice or training session, no matter how bad you think it is.

I encourage you to write something down after each practice that you did well. Soon you will see how many little things you are doing right, giving you the confidence to take your athletic performance to the next level

Athletic Performance and Training Questions

  • Do you train with consistency? Do you make every practice session? There may be days you do not want to get out of bed, but doing so is important to physical development and confidence.
  • Do you get proper sleep? Not just prior to a competition but in preparation for training as well.
  • Do you maintain a diet that is conducive to athletic success? You know that the “fuel” you put in your body effects how well the “engine runs”. This includes staying hydrated as well.
  • Have you made a commitment to stretching and flexibility? Some athletes do not put forth full effort on these as they are not perceived as being the main components of a workout. But, doing all the little things to take care of your body can boost confidence and it is critical to long-term health and athletic performance.
  • Do you strive to maintain a positive attitude? Accept that it is not always easy to do then commit to working on your attitude.
  • Do you keep your attention on the task at hand? When at practice, are you there physically and mentally? Doing so will impact performance which will impact athletic confidence.
  • Do you train with quality? There is a qualitative difference between “just doing it” and doing it with purpose and intensity.
  • Do you address the mental aspect of performance in training and competition? Using mental skills on a consistent basis to manage and enhance performance can bolster your confidence that you have optimized preparation.
  • Do you maintain a high effort? Do you commit your energies whether it is the first sprint in pre-season or the last sprint? As noted by Roger Staubach quote, effort in the little things months ago can play a role in confidence and performance today.
  • Have you made a commitment to strength training? Recognize how the work you do in the weight room translates to performance on the field to build your athletic confidence.
  • Do you work to perfect technique? Do you strive for technical excellence in everything you do? As an athlete, you can study video of yourself or others, breakdown training sessions, and get feedback as part of a commitment to perfect the process of your athletic performance.

OK, let me know your thoughts on building confidence in the comments below.

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  1. Hi Tonya, thanks for the note and you are correct…small steps are the key. Keep up the great progress and keep reading.

  2. Thanks for the great article! I’ve been struggling with my own confidence towards the end of my volleyball season. Mainly with training hard but not quite seeing the results I want. I need to appreciate the little steps that are going to eventually get me there.

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