Building Self-Confidence Level 1
Welcome to the programme on self-confidence and the first of a number of modules that will help you build your confidence.
Imagine what it would feel like to be the most confident athlete that you could be, a master of your immediate environment, someone who others look up to.
By investing ten minutes a day in your personal development, listening to MYND programmes – and implementing the tried and tested tips in modules like ‘self-talk’, ‘optimism’ and ‘dealing with pressure’ along the way – you will greatly enhance your confidence AND your general well-being.
We’ll start by addressing three key questions:
- What is confidence?
- What is flow?
- Why is confidence so important?
Remember: these are practical personal development modules that you need to use daily.
By listening to each topic and learning about and practising the techniques outlined, you will find that your confidence will begin to grow.
Enjoy the experience.
So, what is self-confidence – what does it look like?
In simple terms, self-confidence is a firm belief that you can do something well.
It’s a belief that you can successfully perform a given task or skill.
A belief that you can do something you set out to do.
It is sometimes used to describe a can-do attitude and a healthy trust in yourself and your abilities.
But while this is true, there is more to it than that.
For confidence to flourish, it is important that this belief is well-grounded in your true physical and mental abilities –
not a fanciful belief associated with results that you are unlikely to achieve.
Your confidence can take two forms: the first concerns how confident you generally are, across a range of situations.
We all know a confident person who always appears unshakeable, whether in the sporting arena, in an educational context, or when socializing with his friends.
The second form of confidence is situation-specific.
Imagine a professional soccer player being charged with taking the last kick in a cup final penalty shoot-out in front of 60,000 spectators;
in such instances, your confidence may buckle under the weight of public expectation.
Taking a further soccer example, a player may be generally confident in their scoring ability, however, confidence may waver when they have to make a shot in a particularly hostile and crowded penalty box, or while under persistent pressure from a strong and intimidating defender.
Similarly, an otherwise confident player may struggle to remain focused and upbeat when they’ve hoofed the last four shots over the crossbar.
So you see, simply assuming that confidence is a sense of self-assuredness is an over-simplification.
Confidence is a type of psychological armor;
a protective layer that you carry with you constantly.
Those who are confident are like squash balls – the harder they’re hit the faster they bounce back
In this programme, we will find out how your confidence can remain high even following errors or unwelcome defeat, and how to carry your confidence from the warm-up track or the locker room right through to competition.
You’ll learn how to recover from situations and scenarios where your confidence can take a knock, and how to deal with pressure and overcome anxiety.
Remember: confidence can vary depending on the situation.
You are likely to be confident in some areas but not in others.
We will address the areas where your confidence is most likely to come under attack.
Finding your flow
When you perform at your best, you might well not be thinking of anything at all.
You’re simply having fun and are totally absorbed in the moment, doing what you most enjoy.
Conversely, when things are not going right, you are most likely thinking about who’s watching, about the bad decision that went against you five minutes ago, or about the implications of this result for your career
If you’re an athlete or any other type of performer, you’re probably doing something that you’ve spent hours or even years preparing for.
Sometimes, the performance just comes naturally – you’re in the groove, nothing else seems to matter and you produce your best, effortlessly.
This state is known as ‘flow’ and comes from simply enjoying what you do.
When you perform just for the joy of ‘being involved’, this is what psychologists refer to as ‘intrinsic motivation’, which we will look at another time.
For now, though, you need to be aware that when you are not ‘in flow’ confidence can be somewhat elusive.
We all have those low-confidence days when things appear not to be going our way.
Many times, I’ve heard a team manager or senior player say
“what happened there?’
when someone or the team, seriously underperformed.
When this question is asked, it’s not a time for negative words or recriminations;
it’s a time for analysis, to make small adjustments to help you get back on the road to confidence.
So, how do we get confidence where we need it when we need it?
That’s exactly what we’re going to explore in this programme – and for now, I’ll say…
When things do start to go wrong, try to look at what is working and build on that – there’s always something that is going okay – even in what you might think is a poor performance.
It’s rare that you have to start from scratch.
In fact, it might surprise you how small an adjustment is needed to get you back where you want to be.
More of this later.
Confidence lies on a continuum from FRAGILE to ROBUST.
When our confidence is fragile we only feel certain of our abilities when things are going well, so we only feel confident after a good result.
However, as the celebrated American basketball coach, Pat Riley said:
“when a thunderbolt hits you – that’s when the confidence drains – and when it does, it tends to drain pretty quickly and it’s not always easy to get back”.
I am going to help you develop and build a more robust type of confidence, the type of confidence which stands up to difficulties and adversity.
With this confidence, you’ll come through most situations feeling that you handled them to the best of your ability and that you’re ready to move onto the next challenge.
Robust confidence is not reliant on winning or achieving continual success;
It’s a confidence that stays with you through the ups and downs and gets you where you want to be.
It will not be fickle and it won’t waver.
As we’ll see later, having faith in your preparation will count for a great deal;
the better you prepare the more ready you will be for whatever lies ahead.
The best coaches set up realistic challenges in training so that athletes are primed for the challenges of competition.
The best athletes engage and take ownership of their practice too.
One track and field coach I know enhances the confidence of his athletes in the pre-race scenario by getting them to work out a pre-race routine.
They then practice this routine while being mocked and taunted by other members of the squad.
The coach assigns marks out of ten for composure under duress.
Of course, it never gets that bad in real competitions, but when distractions happen at the competition, or even somebody’s mobile phone goes off or a police siren sounds during a major championship, the athletes have the strength to stay focused on the task at hand. Why is confidence important?
Confidence is rooted in the belief that you can perform a desired skill or task, so it follows that how you expect to perform will play a critical role in your achievements.
As former Olympic 400m hurdles champion, Sally Gunnel, once said:
“you are what you think” –
being confident lets you focus on what you need to do rather than on what might go wrong.
This will direct your physical and mental resources towards the outcome that you want.
Thinking about parts of your performance over which you have no control will, invariably, detract from your ability to give the best of yourself.
For example, a basketball player who is confident in their ability to take a three-point shot will not hesitate when they receive a high-speed cross-court pass in the final throes of a game.
They will have a mental map of precisely what needs to happen;
they will instinctively know the precise location of the basket, and in a single movement will take the jump shot and enjoy seeing the ball drop cleanly through the hoop for a match-winning play.
A less confident player may break down the skill elements in their mind, worrying about the process of catching the ball and playing it on, thus losing crucial fractions of a second.
They may over-concern themselves with the presence of the opposing centre and try to force the ball into the basket, only to see it seized by the opposing team.
Confidence gives you the means to act decisively, in the moment, without inhibition and without ever questioning your ability.
It allows you to do precisely what you want to do in the way you want to do it –
and to enjoy it whilst you’re doing it.
Those who are confident always take time to smell the roses along the way.
So, we’ve seen that confidence is a belief that you CAN do what you set out to do and that it can vary from fragile and robust.
Strong self-belief will give you the drive and motivation you need to reach your potential
A belief in your physical capability is important, but it’s the belief in your mental capacity – being able to make the correct decision under pressure, and your resilience or ability to bounce back – which will enable you to reach your sporting potential.
In the next module, we’ll take a look at the key benefits of being confident
Your MYND activity today
All of the modules on the MYND APP will have a practical emphasis.
I’d like you to start thinking about what holds you back from achieving your own goals and dreams –
Our journey needs to starts with the ability to be self-aware:
by understanding your own self-imposed limitations, we can work through them over the next few modules.
For your first MYND activity in this programme, think about times when you have felt totally absorbed in an activity – you were in ‘flow’ –
try and remember as many details as you can about where you were and what you were doing
Now think of some times when your confidence has come under attack.
What could you have done differently?
What held you back?
Do you notice any patterns?
Once you have discovered the things that limit your confidence, we can work through them over the next few modules, = we’ll either eradicate them or give you the skills and techniques to best deal with them
See you in the next module.