Self-Confidence as a Trigger for Unlocking Potential

Being able to activate self-confidence in sports, the pre-match period is obviously crucial. While it’s important to warm up physically and activate one’s technique to maximize potential in competition, the mental aspect is equally important.
As a reminder, the mind can negatively or positively influence technical and physical performance. If an athlete can activate mental relaxation, combined with appropriate physical dynamism and confidence in their technique, they have every chance of being effective.

The feeling of self-confidence gives the competitor the “green light” to unleash their shots or technique.
If self-confidence is lacking, it’s highly likely that the performance will fall below the athlete’s potential.

Mental Preparation Techniques to Build Self-Confidence

Although self-confidence can be linked to specific factors such as a tough period or a spiral of losses or failures – which require specific work – there are a few simple elements that have proven effective.
These elements can be useful to keep in mind to activate the feeling of self-confidence before a competition:

Activate Self-Confidence through Proper Stress Management in Competition

Self-confidence can only be activated in a pre-match stress state that is “good enough”: neither too low (as there wouldn’t be enough motivation), nor too high (as excessive bodily activation would result in a loss of technical control).
Thus, the athlete must stay within a zone of control, within a positive stress level that can aid in performance.

  • If stress is too high, it’s important to adopt a relaxing ritual, such as taking a few calm breaths, extending warm-up, isolating oneself in a room to calm down, listening to music, talking, etc. (this depends on each individual)
  • If stress is too low, it’s important to adopt an energizing ritual (move, speak positively to oneself, etc.). It’s always essential to view stress positively: stress is your dynamism that you’ll use to act (for more depth, read the article on stress management before a match)

Other Techniques to Activate Self-Confidence in Competition

“Stay in Your Bubble”, “Engage, Don’t Worry”

In general, it’s well known that doing nothing leaves a lot of room for thinking.
These thoughts can lead to excessive pre-match stress and sometimes generate negative thoughts.
It’s best to find your ritual to stay in your bubble or at least not have time to overthink.

Get Familiar

Fully immerse yourself in the venue or field by arriving early, being aware of the atmosphere in which you’ll perform, to gain familiarity using rituals that provide you with a sense of confidence.

Practice Mental Imagery Before Your Match to Build Self-Confidence

By practicing positive mental visualisations in sports before a match, for instance by activating certain technical (and also physical and behavioral) strengths through mental images, you will activate your technical potential as well as a feeling of confidence in yourself.
Your body will then be programmed to activate your technical potential during the match.
It has been shown that the most successful athletes anticipate challenges more positively through more positive mental images than less successful athletes.

>Learn more about mental imagery in sports.

Activate a Positive Attitude

The physical attitude you adopt will influence your self-confidence.
It’s up to you to find the attitude in which you feel comfortable and that activates a sense of self-confidence and optimal motivation for performance.
Working on self-confidence is obviously personal, and this article has provided an overview and some ideas.

> Related article: Practice Resource Anchoring to Boost the Feeling of Self-Confidence

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