Self-confidence in competition: some techniques for mental coaching

The self-confidence as the trigger of its potential

During the preparation period before a match, the physical warm-up is fundamental but to achieve the highest performance, the mental aspect may not be neglected. It is important to activate the self-confidence during this period.

The mental state can influence both negatively or positively the technical and physical performance of an athlete. If the sportsman can get into a state of mental relaxation, associated with an adequate physical dynamism a feeling of confidence in his technique, he has all his chances to be effective.

The sensation of self-confidence is going to give the "approval" to the competitor to express its technique. If it is not present, it is likely that the performance will be below the potential of the sportsman.

Some techniques to activate self-confidence

Although self-confidence can be bound to particular factors, such as a spiral of defeats that require specific attention, there are some simple elements that have shown their effectiveness in getting to a feeling of self-confidence before a competition:

Level of stress: stay in a zone of control

Self-confidence can be present only during a state of stress that is "just right": neither too low (otherwise there won't be enough motivation), nor too high (or the activation of the body is too high which will cause a loss of technical control). The sportsman has to stay in a zone of control where a positive stress can improve performance.

If an athlete does not find himself in this ideal zone, he can use one of the following techniques:

  • If the stress is too high, he can adopt a relaxing rite. For example: take some deep quiet breaths, prolong the warm-up, isolate him in a room to calm down, listen to the music, speak,... Which of these techniques will work is very tied to the individual.
  • If it is too low, adopt a revitalizing rite (move, speak to itself positively). It is always advised to insist on the positive aspects of the stress that one should be feeling: it's a way to get into a more dynamic state.

"To be busy means you can't worry"

It is well known that to do nothing leaves free reign to thoughts. If these thoughts are negative, they can cause excessive stress before a match. The best is to stay in your bubble or in any case to not have time to think too much.

To come early at the competition

By coming enough in advance, you become aware of the atmosphere in which you are going to play. This way you can take your marks by means of the rituals which get you a reliable sensation.

Practise the mental imaging before your match

By practising positive visualizations before a match, for example by activating some of your technical key points (but also physical and behavioral), you activate your technical potential but also a sensation of self-confidence. Your body will then be programmed to activate your technical potential during the match. It was shown that the most successful athletes anticipate more positively the events than the less successful athletes...

Activate a positive attitude

The physical attitude which you go to take is going to influence your feeling of self-confidence. To find the attitude in which you feel good and which are going to activate a sensation of self-confidence and optimal motivation for performance.

Even though the work to improve self-confidence is very dependent on the individual, this article gave a broad overview and some ideas.

By Manuel Dupuis, sport psychologist, mental coach

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