How confident are you that you can perform at a high level on a consistent basis? More so, how confident are you in your ability to play your best when the chips are down?
Playing when your confidence is lacking is a performance killer. Most times when athletes have low confidence, it will affect a player’s level of play over the course of several games and, possibly, throughout a season.
Think of a time when your confidence was at an all-time low… You probably were filled with dread and didn’t look forward to playing at all. You may have not even wanted to be involved in the team for fear you would mess up and let your teammates down.
When confidence is low, your physiology changes: your shoulders slump, head hangs down, breathing becomes shallow, muscles tighten, and you don’t see the field of play as well. All these factors put you at a disadvantage over your competitors.
Confidence is a sort of “been there-done that” proposition. The question is how can you be confident if you have never “been there”? The answer is you have been there, you just don’t know you have been there. Confidence is negatively affected when you focus on your failures. When you define yourself by your successes, confidence rises. When you realize you may not have been is this identical situation before but have been in situations where you have come from behind, overcame obstacles and succeeded under pressure, not only does confidence rise, you physiology (Head up, shoulders back, efficient breathing, improved focus) in enhanced. You have now placed yourself in the best position, mentally and physically to succeed.
Derek Carr was the fourth quarterback selected in the 2014 NFL draft. Though being selected in the second round, Carr has outperformed the three quarterbacks selected in the first round. In his 2014 rookie campaign, Carr had a solid season throwing for 3,270 yards and 21 touchdowns but he also threw 12 interceptions and was ranked 28th in Total QBR (Quaterback Rating of 38.2). Some would say Carr has been there (He is a starting NFL quarterback), not has not yet done that (winning only 3 games in 2014).
It is Carr’s stable confidence and focus on his strengths that enables him to play with passion and energy.
CARR: “I always feel very confident. There is never a time in any game that I’m not confident in myself, in my ability.”
Carr knows he can play in the NFL and his confidence is even stronger than it was a year ago. It is Carr’s confidence that has pushed him to prepare and play at even a higher level.
CARR: “You have a whole off-season to prepare. You know what to work on; you know what’s going to happen. You’ve already played in the games, already seen it… I’m definitely excited and ready to compete.”
Carr’s confidence has produced greater results on the field: a 2-1 record, 5 touchdowns with only
one interception and a QBR of 75.5.
Confidence is the key to optimal performance and it is strictly a matter of how you define yourself. When you focus on your past successes, you will be able to take greater leaps in your level of play.
The Mental Tool Shed: Strategy to Develop Confidence
Write down a list of successes… those times when you played at a high level, when you felt unstoppable, when you played with the highest of confidence. Play these mental tapes prior to each game. These personal highlight reels will keep your mind focused on your strengths and successes and put you in the proper mindset to succeed.