Helpful Approaches To Mental Success On And Off The Ice

To some extent we all understand that confidence is a helpful approach to success. Confident folks show up ready to take on the day’s challenges. Confident athletes show up ready to compete. They fully believe in their abilities. They know that they will give their opponent a run for their money.

Myth: Confidence Is For The Few

Some believe that confidence is reserved for only a small group of people. They believe that confidence is something a person is born with, like a personality trait. There are traits like charisma and being outgoing that are at times thought of as confidence. But those traits do not equal confidence. 

We have seen stories and known of people who have a quiet confidence who would not fit the description of a highly social person. Essentially, confidence is not limited to extroverts or those who can walk into a room and command attention, but for introverts and those who fly under the radar of mass attention.

Confidence is not a trait. A person is not born confident. Confidence is a mindset.

Myth: You Have To Be Winning To Be Confident

Others believe that in order to be confident you have to have won; that you have to have a winning record to be confident or that you have to have some sort of proof to be confident. Confidence is not just given to a person. 

Just because you have won does not mean you are automatically confident.

Winning helps. Knowing that you have the skill to win in competition, beat out opponents, and you have what it takes to reach your goals does build confidence. But winning is not necessary to be confident. You can be an underdog and be confident. You can be a backup goalie or be on the fourth line and still be confident. Confidence is a mindset.

Confidence Is A Choice

When I first learned that confidence could be a choice, I didn’t believe it. If confidence was a choice then I would be confident, why wouldn’t I choose to be confident all the time. Why aren’t all people automatically confident if we can just choose it? I didn’t buy into the idea that a person could actively choose to be confident.

However, if you break it down you can begin to see how a person, athlete, or coach can choose confidence. Confidence is the unshakable belief in your ability. The belief in yourself is a thought process. Our minds can choose what thoughts to repeat, what thoughts to listen to, and what thoughts to interrupt. The constant self-talk statement of doubt or unworthiness certainly is not going to help a person be confident when the pressure is up. In fact, not only will it lead to a decrease in personal confidence but it also leads to poor performance. The athlete who is constantly questioning their ability will completely shut down after a mistake.

But a confident athlete can choose their thoughts to say, “I’m ready,” “I’ve trained for this,” and “No one will outwork me.” An athlete who tells themselves confident statements is going to be better prepared for competition and bounce back more quickly if they make a mistake. The more confident thoughts an athlete has, the stronger his or her belief becomes in their ability to perform. As this belief is continuously reinforced by confident thinking, the athlete builds and maintains a sense of confidence.

Start Choosing Confidence

Make a list of at least 10 positive confidence-building statements. The idea of 10 may seem like it’s not too many, but it can be tough to think of statements that actually mean something to you.

If you get 10 easily, push for 15–20. Once you have the list, read and reread it again. Build the reading this list into your routines. The more you go over the list the more the statements will ring true to you. Your pattern of thoughts will develop your mindset. Thinking specific confidence boosting thoughts will strengthen specific neural-pathways in your brain. The statements will become an automatic response when you’re faced with difficult or challenging times. You will maintain a sense of belief and confidence by choosing a confident mindset. This mindset determines your behavior and subsequently your performance.

By Blaise Fayolle, EdD, CMPC, LLPC 

Blaise Fayolle holds a doctorate in Sport and Performance Psychology and is credentialed as a Certified Mental Performance Consultant® through the Associated for Applied Sport Psychology. Blaise is also a licensed mental health professional in Michigan. 

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