Be a confident athlete, stupid!
So, here am I, the championship final, the big race I’ve trained so hard for. Lane 5, right in the middle of the track, my body’s feeling good, it knows how to run fast, but what about what’s in my mind? That’s what is going to be the difference here today. The guy in the lane next to me doesn’t believe he should be here, head lolling, shoulders slumped and with seemingly less faith in himself winning this race than the Greek parliament in solving their economic difficulties. But to the other side of me, there he is, the one everyone’s come to see, the athlete striking fear into the hearts of his competitors, thrashing them all psychologically even before he’s taken one step out of his blocks. How does he do that though? On paper there are faster athletes in the race, so what makes him the one to be feared?
The answer, Confidence.
This week’s blog is all about the mind-set of successful athletes, and the one overbearing factor involved here is confidence, which has been shown to be the most consistent factor in distinguishing the most successful people in sport. After having a brilliant lecture on the subject last week, and also seeing and hearing things in the news about it lately, I thought it would be an interesting subject to bring to light, a little more of that positive feedback loop I spoke about a while ago in action here you see!
Going back to the very start of this piece, I described a scenario of a start line for a big race, not too dissimilar to that I might find myself in later this year (all things going to plan, I say confidently). This is a perfect example of where sporting confidence really comes into its own, I mean just look at the attitudes of the protagonists of a big 100m race on the start line, all sorts of antics are going on as athletes try to portray their confidence and psych out their opponents. Maurice Greene was reportedly one of the biggest players of mental games in the world at his peak and would have the rest of the field beaten before they even got out of the locker room on occasions. We as Brits might view such self-assurance, immodesty and belief in one’s own ability as a little arrogant, brash and even a bit vulgar, but it is so often this confidence that is the deciding factor in determining sporting champions, and something we need to embrace to be successful ourselves, even if it may seem unnatural at first.
Maurice Greene was not the only athlete to have such an air of confidence encompassing his very being, whenever he donned a pair of spikes in the 90’s, teammate Michael Johnson seemingly destroyed his competitors psychologically in a sense that he clearly had such confidence in himself and his ability that he didn’t even worry about what his opponents did. Johnson once said that all he focused on for a race was the start, the turn and finish, do that and everything else would take care of itself, his competitors weren’t of interest to him.
It said that confidence breeds confidence and this is true, it improves your resilience, perseverance and can lead you to form more optimistic, higher reaching goals. It is also true that the greatest performers are those who are confident enough to take a set back or a defeat on the chin and bounce back from it even stronger, that’s who the true champions are.
So the next time you’re on the start line, waiting for kick-off, listening for the bell to sound or just outside the interview office, remember the journey you’ve been on to get to this point and how no matter how strong you’ve made your body, none of that training and preparation will flourish without the strength of your mind-set and your confidence. Hold your head high, stand tall, be focused and just smile and enjoy yourself! And know that even if this time things don’t go quite to plan, as long as you have confidence, you’ll always come back stronger.
Hope everyone has enjoyed this blog as ever, be sure to check out all my previous blogs if you haven’t done so already and look out for more content coming out soon, including a selection of high protein recipes featuring products from the Sativa Shakes range, the first of which is up now for you to try.