Confidence is arguably the most important ingredient in succeeding as an athlete, but athletes often struggle to find and keep this elusive trait.

The problem lies in that they have a skewed understanding of what confidence actually is and where it comes from.

Here are the 4 main reasons why athletes struggle with self-confidence:

Yo-Yo Confidence:
Tying their self-image to external results or praise
Imposter Syndrome:
Believing they are not worthy and/or don’t belong
Victim Mentality:
Blaming others and not taking responsibility
Negativity Bias:
Constantly beating yourself up and overly focusing on the negatives

However, you can overcome these limiting beliefs by following these 3 steps to play with confidence:

Step 1: Stop Focusing on Confidence

Telling yourself that you have a confidence problem is one of the most common reasons athletes continuously struggle with confidence. If you reframe it as a problem with owning your capabilities the solution becomes much more attainable.

Instead of relying on external results and praise to give you confidence, make the shift to focusing on what you can control – putting in the work and owning your capabilities. This is the difference between yo-yo confidence and having a stable self-image.

True confidence is about owning your capabilities, but the word confidence is tainted. It’s associated with external results and praise. So an easy first step is to just stop using the word and shift your focus to owning your capabilities

Step 2: Own Your Capabilities

Owning your capabilities can be easier said than done. Often, athletes struggle to do this because they are too hard on themselves. So this step is about making the choice to start owning your greatness and stop
downplaying yourself.

If you believe that you are just the type of person that ‘always beats yourself up’ then STOP that narrative. You may have operated this way for a while, but you don’t have to keep it going. You have the power to change your inner narrative.

Healthy comparison can be used with a top teammate or competitor to get an accurate self-image. Compare yourself based on your capabilities when you are playing free, not based on results. The bottom line is if you have put in the work then your job is to own it.

Don’t let yourself have any excuses. It might be uncomfortable – that’s because you are not used to it. So try it out for a few days and you will feel the shift in how you carry yourself. Then soon enough owning your capabilities will become your new norm.

Step 3: Build Momentum

The first two steps are the 1-2 punch you need to play with confidence, but building momentum is the key for consistent confidence. Every game and every shift is the opportunity to build momentum for yourself, for your team, and for your confidence.

Unfortunately, most athletes rely on EXTERNAL factors like their teammates, coaches, or luck to give them momentum. Don’t hope you gain momentum, instead choose to be the spark plug and attack each game and each shift as a momentum builder.

In summary follow these 3 steps to play with confidence:

  1. Stop Focusing on Confidence
  2. Own Your Capabilities
  3. Build Momentum

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