Sports Psychology

Wishing Hoping and Praying are not Confidence

Wishing Hoping and Praying are not Confidence

I wish I were a better at …

I hope I do well…

I pray that I have a good day…

These are common statements from people as they relate to how they feel or think they will perform in an their upcoming contest. They also indicate a lack of confidence.

Confidence is a construct of belief in our abilities.  Confidence comes from among other things: quality practice, believing in abilities, other persons, quality instruction, fitness, diet, and doing the right things off the field of competition.

Though confidence can certainly be fed by successful performances and typically if we perform well it feeds our confidence to do well or better in the future. However that is not always the case. And the reason is that confidence is a mental construct which is up to the individual interpretation of such events. If the individual expected more out of their performance than what occurred then despite what everyone else may view as “successful” and would “feed confidence” it in fact could do the very opposite to this athlete.

So confidence is impacted by our interpretations of objective performance and we can build confidence by viewing our capabilities in other areas of life or even by seeing what others can do.

Here is what is difficult for athletes to get: it is possible to be quite confident in being able to do something even though we have never done it before! It is also possible to be quite confident in doing something even if by objective measures we are not that good. And that is the real secret. Develop your confidence now and don’t wait for outcomes to validate or feed your confidence level. Low confidence will most definitely adversely affect performances through tentative actions and the stress of competition. Strong confidence will bolster your performances by allowing you to rebound and not get down even after an error or lapse or bad play or race.

Confidence can be evidenced by how someone characterizes or describes efforts or competitions. Here are what we might call levels of self-confidence: I hope, Maybe I’ll, I think, I believe, I know, I will.

Hoping, wishing and praying that some performance occurs is the weakest form of confident thinking. It leaves all outcomes to external and uncontrollable sources.

“Maybe” opens a door, and “I think” is creeping in the door to taking some control of the outcome. “Believing” that you can do something is a stronger statement.

On the other hand, “knowing” that you can do something is the strongest representation of confidence. It is not open to debate. I simply “know” I can do this. And the final level is one step beyond because it indicates action: I will.

Our self-talk guides our actions. It is important to create talk about our capabilities that feeds our confidence. That in turn feeds our actions. It is more likely that our actions will reinforce strong confidence and ultimately lead to more consistent performances and breakthrough performances. Start now in changing how you talk about your capabilities.

Read more on your Mental Game.


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This post was written by:

- who has written 19 posts on Trail Running Club.


Owner of Mindset for Performance - a peak performance consulting service for athletes and business people alike. But here's what I actually do! As a certified mental games coaching professional I apply techniques and teach strategies from sports psychology - the psychology of peak performance - to everyone I can. I have worked with athletes from: tennis, golf, running, triathlons, duathlons, cycling, baseball, basketball, soccer, MMA fighting, and professional tiddlywinkers (ok I'm kidding about the last one.

I have a passion for sharing knowledge and see myself more as an educator. I love working with youth and really love seeing the difference the skills I teach make a difference in sports, school and home.

My work totally rocks!

Oh some other boring stuff about me:
• M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration (THE U of A) with post graduate work in sports psychology
• BS in Rehabilitation for the Deaf (Yes I know sign language)
• AA in nursing (early career)
• MGCP - Certified Mental Games Coaching Professional
• Certified running coach USATF Level I
• Certified track and field official USATF National Level


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