Confidence has always been something I’ve struggled with as an athlete. There has never been a sport that I have played that has ever come easy or naturally to me. Throughout my gymnastics career, I have been trained to strive for perfection and put out my very best 110% of the time. Sometimes it isn’t as easy as it seems, especially in college when you have to balance your classes and be an athlete at the same time. I strongly believe that hard work does pay off in the end. Some of my worst experiences as an athlete has made me mentally stronger and helped me gain confidence not just in sport, but in life. In this edition of The Student-Athlete Handbook, I am going to give some advice on how to be a confident athlete (or person) and share some of my own experiences that lead me to where I am today.
Be Physically Confident
Like I said before, hard work really does pay off! If you are putting in the reps in the weight room and going above and beyond during workouts, you have no reason to not feel good about yourself physically. Slacking off will get you nowhere and it shows! I know after I finish a really hard workout I feel good about myself physically. This transfers over to your playing time as well. The more reps you do of something at practice, the better you get at it and you are more likely to do it with confidence on game day!
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
In sport, it is almost natural to want to compare yourself to your teammates. DON’T! Everyone learns and progresses at different rates. Others are just naturally good at what they do and sometimes they aren’t even aware that their teammates may be struggling. Comparison is a losing game, and you are only hurting your self-esteem and confidence when you try to “one-up” others. There is always going to be someone else that is bigger than you, faster than you, and stronger than you. Focus on YOU. Confidence will always beat strength and skill on game day.
Focus on the Controllables
Sometimes things happen during practice or on game day that you have absolutely no control over. Focus on you and your team rather than dwell on something that you can’t change. You aren’t able to control the arena you compete in, the score the officials give you, the crowd that’s watching you, or what the other team is doing, but you are able to control your attitude. The more you focus on the positives, the easier it is to block out the “uncontrollables.” Relax and go with the flow!
Celebrate the Little Things
Acro meets are full of exciting energy and celebrations. Success comes with hard work and dedication, so don’t be afraid to show off what you’ve worked so hard for. A good way to track all of your victories is to write them down. Keep a journal and log that record score or time. It doesn’t have to be sport related either. Keeping a journal with all of the positive moments that happen throughout your day can boost your confidence when you go back and reflect months later when you might be having a bad day. Taking pictures is also a great way to capture the perfect moments. I promise it works!
Learn From Your Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, but it is important to not let them sit over your head. When you make mistakes, learn from them and move on. Forgive yourself and focus on the positives. Holding mistakes against yourself creates more self-doubt and will not make you a better athlete. Good coaches and positive and forgiving, so practice being the same to yourself.
Confidence is the key to success not only in athletes, but in life. Confidence sets you apart from everyone else and motivate you to accomplish the impossible. With confidence, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Putting all of these techniques into practice will make you mentally stronger and soon enough you’ll be conquering the impossible!