No athlete – regardless of performance level - will fully excel without a strong sense of desire and inner self confidence in their ability. Your belief in your ability to compete well, to excel on a given course, or to simply pull off a series of good intervals in training will drive your success. One of the reasons that people get so much out of sport is that it builds confidence and knowing of their true power. It is also plastic: you have the ability to shape it. Even if you come to sport with a deficit of confidence, it can be built.
Even the most intense physical training will not sustain an athlete with no sense of their own ability and how well they deserve to do. It’s interesting, that a good coach, a good parent, a good teacher can be the first line of this teaching: they can often see this inner strength, when the athlete themselves is feeling doubt or anxiety, and their encouragement can be a key ingredient to building confidence. But even the coach has to eventually step aside and allow the athlete to know this for themselves.
The early season, and the hard sessions of the year are always a good time to practice tapping into your inner strength, to build confidence in your abilities and really remind yourself of what it means to know that you deserve to do well.
The concept or image of an inner Warrior is often used in sport. Your inner warrior works from a sense of peace, not fight. It works from a feeling of abundance not deprivation. It is expansive, not shrinking. The inner warrior is strong in and of itself and only ‘wants’ success, feels it deserves to succeed and is not driven by a ‘need’ to succeed and prove oneself. The inner warrior is independent of external approval. Understanding the difference between knowing you can succeed and needing to prove yourself to others is a huge step in building the sort of confidence in your ability that makes sport a joyful thing.
Your warrior wants to connect and belong, is full of courage and calm, as opposed to a sense of anxiety and impending doom that the ego wants to bring into the mix.
To increase your ability to tap into the strong sense of self confidence that will build into the sort of intense desire you will need during your season’s biggest challenges, you can think about several things in your training sessions and early season races:
Take stock honestly and don’t talk yourself out of success
Don’t let any nagging voices let you down. Too often our thoughts will lead to ‘untruths’: I can’t do it today, this pace is too fast, I can’t do it because –“enter your own self defeating excuse for a failure to perform here”. The brain is a marvelous tool; use it to reinforce what you know is true, not what may be false. Learn to tune into your thoughts early in the season and recognize when the thoughts are simply not helpful. What would your best coach say? When it comes from the power within you, and you really start to believe it, you are on your way.
Don’t peg yourself behind anybody or anything if you don’t really know
This is a continuation of knowing the truth and being honest. Often the difference between performances of similar abilities is that one athlete believed they should be in front, and one felt that it wasn’t possible. There will be times when you see yourself in front and you still lose in a sprint finish, but you will never know if you don’t believe you can. Tell yourself with conviction what you are capable of, and what you know you can achieve. Keep it simple, truthful and realistic.
Don’t lower your expectations in order to feel less nervous
It takes grit to tough it out in the arena. It takes courage to go after something new, and just beyond your reach, but it also makes us feel alive! To feel nervous, is to be excited, to be excited is to care about outcome.
The repetition of small acts of personal bravery and courage build resilience and self-esteem. Every time you show up to a training session even though you are a little scared, this is what builds confidence.
Run For Joy
Fuel Your Soul
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Writing about the art of moving well and the lived experience of a life in sport.