Do you sometimes feel like you could use a bit of encouragement to give you a confidence boost?
Confidence is the gatekeeper for unlocking your optimum performance. Even if your physical preparation is perfect you can still be outdone by someone who has put in half the work physically, but is well primed mentally. Imagine your body is a high powered computer full of so many capabilities, but you don’t know the password to log on. You might as well not even have that high powered computer.
Confidence is the password for logging into a high performance body.
Sometimes our confidence can be temporarily ignited from the words of others. Positive affirmation from someone who's opinion you respect can act as a trigger to unleash a higher level of performance. There also may have been times where the opposite happens, when someone says something negative and your confidence feels completely drained. But did you know, surprising as it may seem, there is one person who’s opinion you respect more than anyone else's on the planet. More than your parents' opinion, more than your best friend's opinion, more than Jose Mourinho’s or whoever you consider to be the best coach in the world. Do you know who that person is?
Well, it’s you.
Your opinion of yourself has more of an impact on your performance than anyones. You know yourself inside out, so whatever you think of yourself, you are more likely to believe that to be a truer representation of yourself rather than someone who has only maybe known you for a period of your life.
This can be equally as beneficial as it is destructive in getting the best out of yourself. On the one hand, if you perceive yourself to be a great player and truly believe it, you'll play in a way that represents your belief. On the other hand, if you don’t believe you’re good enough, and actively tell yourself in your mind you’re not, then you are more likely to represent that in your play.
So how do we heighten our opinion of ourselves to increase confidence? Let’s talk about the power of self talk.
Self talk is the conscious effort to say positive things to yourself, whether it be outloud, or inside your head. I understand that the thought of talking to yourself might seem a bit strange (it was weird for me too at first) but it’s proven to be one of the most effective confidence building techniques you can do.
Think of the last time you had a bad training session, maybe your shots were off, your touch kept getting away from you, and you didn’t perform well. Out of frustration, whether it was outloud, or in your own mind, you took a jab at yourself. “That was rubbish”, “I’m so bad at shooting”, “I’ll never be good enough”. Sound familiar? The thing is, each time you say that to yourself, you believe it to be true more and more each time, and when we truly believe something, it usually comes to be true in our reality. If you believe you’re a bad player, you will act like a bad player. It's just like when someone else says something negative to you and strips you of your confidence, but this time you're hearing it from yourself, which has an even deeper affect.
So, the key is to always be positive with your words and thoughts, which is much easier said than done, trust me, I know. But always make a conscious effort to respond in a positive way to all situations, even negative ones.
If you miss a shot, instead of thinking "wow, I suck", instead think “I CAN do much better than that!” Or “Even the best miss shots”. Do you see the difference? Instead of saying to yourself that the bad shot represents you, you’re admitting to yourself that you have the ability to do much better, and if you say it enough, you will believe it, and as a result, you will start shooting better. At first, even say it out loud, so you can actually hear the words you're thinking.
This is just one of the many examples where you can use positive self talk to improve yourself. It can also be used before/during/after matches, at trials/tryouts, or even other areas of life away from the pitch. Positive self talk is an incredibly powerful tool that can change the outcome of almost any situation that requires us to perform mentally (exams, interviews, speeches, dating).
So the next time you feel like you need some encouragement, look to yourself first before seeking positive opinions of others, you can’t control someone else opinion, but you can control yours.
Remember this “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”.