Constructing Confidence

Confidence is an integral part of success. Without this trait, it is difficult to triumph on any type of playing field. Luckily, we can learn how to be confident (or more confident). While preparation builds confidence — try winning any competition without working on the physical, technical, and tactical parts of your sport — mental skills also create confidence.

In Prime Ski Racing: Triumph of the Racer’s Mind, author Jim Taylor, Ph.D., gives us numerous mental techniques to help us construct confidence. First, “walk the walk”. Successful competitors move with confidence: Head held high and chin tilted slightly up, eyes facing forward, shoulders are back and with a spring in their movements.

His next piece of advice — “talk the talk” — means making our self-thoughts and spoken words more positive. Dr. Taylor points out that it “takes 12 positive experiences to equal one negative experience.” So every time you tell yourself you are a loser, you need to tell yourself you are a winner 12 times to cancel out that one saying. Think about the most common negative statements you tell yourself and ponder when you are most likely to say them. Then write positive statements to counter-act these harsh words. Then next time you say or think a negative statement, say “stop” or “positive” to yourself and then say one of your positive thoughts.

Dr. Taylor also suggests creating a “Ski Racer’s Litany.” This is a list of self-statements that infuse your mind and body with confidence. Write a list for your own sport. Dr. Taylor’s list includes these lines: “I love to ski race; If I give my best effort, then I am a winner; I think and talk positively.” Say this list every morning and evening and before you train and compete. And say it with conviction. Even if you don’t feel each item on your list to be one hundred percent true, saying it like you mean it will help you start to believe every word.

Of course, you don’t have to try to build your confidence all by yourself. A sport psychologist can help you become a more confident athlete.

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