Techniques to gain more self confidence in sports and perform
Through the years I have read and come across various resources on self confidence in sports. Though, I am not an athlete nor am I involved in any professional sports, however I have learned many peak performance and personal development techniques that is very suitable to be used in competitive sports. In fact, many of those techniques are used by sports psychologists and peak performance experts for their sports clients.
I had a direct experience of the effectiveness on sporting performance by seeing how a friend took many strokes off her golf game by using the techniques learned from the NLP Masters training we attended together.
Almost everyone understands that self confidence in sports and self belief plays a major role in actual performance of the athlete. Great athletes have slumps too, and sometimes these slumps are from a lack of confidence.
It is very common that many athletes can perform very well during practice or exhibition games, but in competitive matches especially the big games, they find it hard to perform to their actual abilities. Many seem to become another player altogether.The thing is, many can be confident and perform well during practice, but when it comes to competitive matches it is much harder to bring out this self confidence in sports.
Gaining Self Confidence in Sports
To perform at a high level in sports (and any other thing for that matter), concentration and focus is required. An athlete fully concentrated and focused on the task at hand will perform to his/her best. The difference between the best and the rest may not be due solely to skills or ability, but to who has the better ability to focus their mind on the one thing only, which is to perform at their optimal best.
The more competitive the match, the more important it is to be able to concentrate fully and not be distracted.
During competitive matches, the mind races through so many thoughts. The fear of losing the game, letting down the teammates, making a fool out of yourself in front of the crowd, meeting expectations, that the opponent is stronger than you etc. That is why athletes normally perform worse during competitions. They are not solely focused on the task at hand.
In practice there’s nothing on the line. No one is watching, it doesn’t matter if you lose, it’s just practice, just a game. Without all those distractions, the mind & body can focus only on the game and performing to the best.
Having stillness of the mind frees you from all distractions. Then you are able to focus only on the moment. At that moment your universe only contains yourself and the ball, the track etc.
Gaining stillness can be done through various methods, some of which are by practicing meditation, quieting your mind frequently, and breathing exercises.
Self confidence in sports techniques
1. Finding your zone
The first way of gaining more self confidence in sports is to get in the zone. “I was just in the zone” - we hear that being said by athletes all the time, and I am sure every one of us has had that experience before. It is when we find ourselves naturally performing optimally with confidence, comfort and ease. It is as if we are operating from a higher level, everything comes easily and without the need for control.
Instead of hoping that you will ‘find’ yourself in the zone when there’s a big match going on, how would you like to know how to get into the zone whenever you like?
Here’s a simple process to do just that.
2. Next, identify as much detail as you can about that past experience. The list below can help ;
What were you thinking before & during the game? What was going through your mind?
What were you saying to yourself?
What was your posture like?
What was your breathing patterns like?
Where did it take place? What are the particular details about the place? (atmosphere, surroundings etc)
Who were the other people involved?
Did anything unique happen before the game or during the game?
It would be ideal if you have a video recording of yourself when in the zone. If you do, you’ll get a clearer picture of the physical details.
3. Next, as you are reliving the experience, notice and identify the submodalities of your experience. It is basically noting down the visual, auditory & kinesthetic attributes of your memory.
You can learn more about NLP submodalities for a clearer understanding on what is actually is and how you can use it.
4. Now that you have identified as much detail as possible and also know of the submodalities of the experience, recreate the exact same thing in your mind to put yourself in the zone. In your mind, visualize all the details with the attributes of the submodalities that you identified. This will help put you in the zone. When you start to feel it, anchor yourself to that state through using the nlp anchoring technique. Do this so that whenever you trigger the anchor, you put yourself in the zone.
The next time that you're in an actual game or competition, match the submodalities and anchor your state. This will put you in your ‘sweet spot’ and you will naturally start to have more self confidence in sports.
2. Using visualization
Make use of visualization to direct your mind & body to perform what you want. Many professional athletes are trained to use imagery and visualization to raise their self confidence in sports. By doing so, they direct themselves to perform optimally, and this increases their chances of success.
In your mind, create a mental picture (or rather a movie) of yourself performing excellently. Picture yourself executing the correct form, following through calmly, naturally and with confidence. See yourself with total focus and commitment. Do this repeatedly everyday, especially before a game.
Doing this repeatedly will create a mental habit, which will then transform into a physical habit.
3. Positive self talk
The third step is to use positive self talk and affirmations. Never ever say or think anything negative about your performance or ability. Some people may think that this actually can be a driver to trigger better performance. It may be possible, but doing so can be risky.
Whenever you send a message to your brain, whether it’s good or bad, the brain will focus on it and assess whether it is true. If you tell yourself 'I totally suck, I can’t make a shot!', the brain will start digging up memories of times when you missed shots. In addition to getting you to focus on acts of failures which are disempowering, doing so will make your brain come to the conclusion that you indeed suck.
After concluding that you suck, you will subconsciously perform badly in order to keep the consistency of the conclusion (the brain is addicted to being consistent). Any negative self talk is inadvertently directing yourself to perform badly.
Practice positive self talk whenever possible to gain self confidence in sports.
Putting positive pressure on yourself is good to drive yourself to improve and perform better, but ultimately you must still remember the reason you are doing this in the first place. For the love and passion of the sport. When you do that, your self confidence in sports will soar.
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