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Mental Training for Peak Performance: Self-Confidence. By Dr. K.C. Wilder

| May 23rd, 2019

Youth athletes can mentally train for peak performance by being proactive with their self-confidence. What is self-confidence? Self-confidence is how strongly you believe in your ability to execute a task or skill. Without a high level of self-confidence it is difficult to perform at your very best. While self-confidence builds automatically with experience and success, there are ways for youth athletes to proactively boost and maintain superior self-confidence.

Here are three proactive confidence exercises that we have our Elite Mental Edge athletes complete early on in our sessions.

One of our youth soccer players completed the Rank Confidence Sources exercise as follows:

Exercise 1: Proactive Confidence: Rank Confidence Sources

My Top Sources of Confidence:

1. Training hard in practice
2. Past success on the Elite Soccer team
3. Positive feedback from high level coaches
4. Supportive parents and grandparents
5. Belief in my physical talent

This exercise is effective to improve an athlete’s awareness of how they can develop confidence. In addition, it helps to differentiate between controllable and uncontrollable factors related to confidence. The greater an athlete’s belief in him or herself the better their overall mental game. And, success builds upon self-belief. It becomes a positive upward spiral of confidence if we let it unfold.

We asked one of our Elite Mental Edge field hockey players the following question:

Exercise 2: Proactive Confidence: Positive Self-Talk

What are five positive things that you say yourself to control your confidence in a challenging game?

Positive Self-Talk:
1. I love playing the game of field hockey.
2. I enjoy the challenge today.
3. I am going to hit the ball into the corner of the net to score.
4. My head is in the game—sticking to the PRESENT mindset.
5. I feel good playing, keep it up!

Positive self-talk is a simple yet powerful way to repeat build consistent mental habits that work. Being positive with ourselves is a confidence booster, while negative self-talk is a confidence killer. Stick with being your own best friend by being good to yourself with your inner monologue.

We asked one of our Elite Mental Edge lacrosse players the following:

Exercise 3: Proactive Confidence: Negative Self-Talk Awareness

What are five negative things that you say to yourself when you are performing poorly?

Negative Self-Talk:
1. You stink!
2. Seriously, you missed that easy shot?
3. I will never get better.
4. I am slow today.
5. I hate this game!

In sharp contrast to the positive self-talk, it is easy to see that the lacrosse player was not being his own best friend. Clearly, he was being his own worst enemy and lowering his confidence by verbally beating himself up. This type of negative self-talk leads to doubt and higher levels of frustration, which is a confidence killer.

Youth athletes can take immediate control of their mental game by being proactive with their confidence. These three proactive confidence exercises are effective, easy to do, and foster a young athlete’s self-awareness. Once an athlete learns how to boost their confidence with these exercises they will feel more in control in game situations. They can choose to be confident and use their mental game to lead to peak performance.

Game on!!!

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