The Champion’s Training Program: 4 Ways to Build Your Confidence

Imagine if you believed in yourself 100% every time you stepped on the field. What if you went into every game without a shadow of a doubt that you had all of the skills and abilities you need to be successful? 

What would change for you? 

Having unshakeable confidence will allow you to go out and play without questioning whether or not you’re going to make the right play. It will allow you to accept pressure and allow it to drive you rather than crush you. You won’t allow others expectations get in your head because you have a clear vision for yourself, and believe in that vision. Most of all, you will have fun on the field! You won’t be worried about judgement from others or making a mistake, allowing you to enjoy playing! 

Having confidence in yourself on the field is a game changer. But where does confidence come from?

Some people assume confidence is something you either have or you don’t. As if one person is born with it and one person isn’t. That is a myth. Confidence can be developed just like any other skill. And it comes from you! It comes from the way you talk to yourself, the beliefs you have about yourself and the way you think about yourself. 

When you’ve made doubting, worrying, and judging yourself a habit, it takes time to change that. Building confidence requires you to continue to form a new habit of lifting yourself up and becoming your own hype woman. But more than that it requires you to continually check in with yourself, celebrate your wins, believe in yourself, and talk to yourself as if you’re talking to your best friend. 

This means letting go of constantly nagging yourself for making a mistake. You will need to let go of replaying the negatives rather than the positives. And you will need to learn to turn to yourself for positive feedback, rather than relying on other people to provide you with positive feedback. 

So how do we build your confidence? 

  1. Remind yourself of what your strengths are rather than your weaknesses. You don’t need to continually remind yourself, “I can’t shoot with my left foot”. Write down a list of your strengths, what you are good at and ways that your strengths contribute to your team. Read through it daily! 
  2. Celebrate your accomplishments. After every practice and game, the first thing you should ask yourself is, “what did I do well today?”. Before you say, “nothing!”, force yourself to come up with a minimum of 3 things. 
  3. Relive past successes. Think of a time where you played your best and replay that in your mind. Think of the way you felt when you were playing. And relive that experience to remind yourself of what you’re capable of. 
  4. Create a routine that makes you feel confident going into your day. No matter what it is, we all have something that allows us to embrace the strong, powerful, and confident person within us. Listen to a song that lifts you up. Wear your hair a certain way that gives you confidence. Repeat a mantra to yourself that reminds you how great you are. Find what it is that allows you to hype yourself up and feel positive about yourself. 

Building confidence is something that takes just as much dedication and effort that learning a new sport skill requires. You will be forming a new habit of embracing your strengths, celebrating your wins, and lifting yourself up!  

Ready to build unshakeable confidence? Schedule a free mini session.

Does practice really make perfect?

I’m sure you have heard the saying “practice makes perfect”. This saying is meant to motivate individuals to continue practicing so that over time they will improve. While this phrase of striving towards perfection may motivate you as an athlete, does it create a mindset that embraces failure and setbacks as you work towards your goals? 

The fact is, you will always be working towards perfection because perfection is unattainable. No one has ever woken up and said, “Well, I’m perfect, so I can stop practicing.”. There has always been more to strive for. That’s why records are constantly being broken and new heights of achievement are being reached. 

While perfectionism can push you to be extremely motivated and hard working, your mental game will most likely suffer. So what happens when you get so focused on perfection that it holds you back from being great? This may sound familiar if you tend to be a perfectionist on the field. 

  • Perfection in athletes can lead to low self-confidence. Have you ever made a mistake causing your confidence to go from 100 to 0 really quick? 
  • You expect yourself to make zero mistakes. Unrealistic expectations can overload you with pressure and anxiety on game day.  
  • You are extremely critical of yourself. After every game are you replaying all of the bad moments rather than celebrating the good ones? 
  • The opinions of others are very important to you. You will oftentimes determine whether a performance was poor or good based on the feedback others give you, whether it’s a coach, teammate or parent.  

Many athletes have some degree of striving for perfection, but it can become an issue when it affects your confidence, performance and ultimately enjoyment of your sport. So what can you do to combat any unrealistic expectations of perfection you have for yourself? 

  1. Give yourself permission to be imperfect! You have told yourself over and over “be better”, “don’t make a mistake”, “you have to perform well”, but have you ever given yourself permission to make a mistake? There has never been an athlete that hasn’t made a mistake before. Acknowledge this truth and give yourself permission. 
  2. After each game and practice write 5 things that you did well. Take time to acknowledge the positives before you can ruminate over the negatives. 
  3. When assessing how you played, talk to yourself as if you were talking to your best friend. So, if your best friend just played exactly as you did what would you tell her? My guess is that you would focus on the positives and hype her up. So do that for yourself! 
  4. Change your self-talk from “Don’ts” to helpful instructions. For example, instead of saying “Don’t strike out.”, tell yourself “Watch the ball hit the bat.”
  5. Remember why you play. Why did you begin playing your sport? What do you love most about your sport? The answer to those questions can remind you of the joy and purpose your sport provides you with. 

Having high standards as an athlete is a great attribute, but your standards shouldn’t be so rigid that you don’t allow room for failure and mistakes. Failure and mistakes are part of the process to becoming a better athlete. You will learn and improve the most when failure and mistakes occur. So embrace those times and give yourself the permission to allow them to happen.

Want to chat more about how perfectionism may be holding you back? Schedule a free mini session today!

The Mindful Athlete

Mindfulness has recently become a buzzword, but it is still oftentimes misunderstood. 

When most people think of mindfulness they think of meditation or sitting in silence to “clear their mind”. While meditation is a form of mindfulness, there are many other ways you can practice mindfulness that provide benefits to your game. 

So what is mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is really being in the here and now without judgement. It’s allowing yourself to be fully present in the moment. It is going through the present moment with purpose and intention, by focusing on your thought processes and how you are perceiving the world around you. 

Mindfulness can be a simple practice that you implement within your day such as: 

  • Expressing gratitude
  • Stretching your body
  • Taking a few deep breaths
  • Paying attention to your senses (savoring the taste of food when eating, paying attention as you brush your teeth) 
  • Looking around and noticing your surroundings 
  • Turning off your phone for an hour

You may be thinking, “Okay and how does being mindful apply to me as an athlete?”.

Mindfulness helps you to get out of your head and in the game. It allows you to focus on what is important in each moment, rather than a past mistake or things outside of your control. Mindfulness helps to ease performance anxiety, by slowing down your thoughts and letting go of detrimental thinking. It also helps you process difficult emotions and become less reactive when emotions like anger and frustration arise within a game. It can also help you be more positive and optimistic about your circumstances.

After a game have you ever thought to yourself, “I was in the zone today.”? Most likely you were out of your head and playing present. You were allowing yourself to be fully immersed in the game from moment to moment. That is a result of being mindful and being in the present moment. If you have not experienced this or do not experience it enough, try implementing some of these mindfulness practices into your routine. 

Here are some of my favorite mindfulness techniques for athletes to implement into their routines in order to help them play more present.

  1. Deep breathing. Take a few deep breaths, focus on filling your belly with air as you breath in through your nose, then slowly breathe out through your mouth. As you breathe in, say “In”, and as you breathe out, say “Out”. This can be done anytime; at practice, during a game, at home. Deep breathing allows you to slow down and focus your attention on the action of breathing in that exact moment. 
  2. Stretch. Take time to stretch your body, and notice where you feel tight. Then, observe that tension being released throughout the process. Focus on one area of your body at a time and feel your body getting loose as you go through this process. 
  3. Gratitude. Write down 5 things you are grateful for each day. Gratitude allows you to remain in a positive mindset by appreciating what you have on your way towards what you want. 
  4. Journal. Write down your accomplishments, what you are doing well, what you could improve on, a lesson you learned. Or use journaling to get your thoughts out of your head and on paper. Journaling helps you to get you in the present by letting go of thoughts and negativity that can cloud your mind. 
  5. Turn off your devices. Give yourself some time away from social media, the tv or texting. Allow yourself to use that time away from technology to be more present. Go watch the sunset, have a conversation with someone and listen intently, find other forms of entertainment (read, play a board game, do a puzzle). 

If you would like to talk about mindfulness and how it can help you get your mind to work for you rather than against you, schedule a free mini session today.

Why You Should Work With a Mental Performance Coach

Think of a time when you had competed at your best. Now think of a time when you competed at your worst. 

What do you truthfully think the difference was between those two performances? 

Most likely it was your mindset! It’s not that you weren’t in great shape or that you didn’t practice enough. Somehow, when the pressure was on you couldn’t rise to the occasion. You tried to tell yourself to focus but what does focus even really mean? How do you focus when your nerves are taking over and physically affecting your body? How do you quickly tap in and harness your confidence to perform just as well as you normally do in practice? 

With the help of mental training you can strengthen your mind so that you are able to perform under these high pressure situations just as well as you do in practice.

Let’s just acknowledge the stigma within sport psychology and working with a performance coach right off the bat. This idea that sport psychology is just “therapy for athletes” is completely false. While sessions themselves can be therapeutic, that’s not the point of mental training. Training your mind is just like training your body and physical skills. Mental Performance Coaches work just like your regular coach by coaching you through mental reps of different psychological techniques, drills, situations, and scenarios. We provide tools for you to utilize at different points of your games or competitions. We help your mental performance on and off the field so that come game time all you gotta do is trust in your training and compete.

Having a strong mental game is the difference between being good and being great! Mental training teaches you to think clearly and use your mind effectively in game time situations and difficult workouts. Just as you learned not to swing at bad pitches, mental training helps you learn not to chase your bad thoughts. We help you turn your negative inner critic into a positive helpful coach! We’ll work on skills that help you recognize competition as a challenge to rise up to rather than a threat to back down from. 

Think of your brain like a computer. It needs software to properly function. If you don’t have the right software then you just have a big, non-updated, non-properly working computer. So what’s the software then? Your mindset. The more you improve your mindset through practicing mental skills the better your software is and the more efficient your computer is! We know how powerful the brain is so why aren’t we training it just as much as we do our bodies? It’s time for athletes to take on a new approach and mindset in sports. We are finally shifting away from the old school thinking of sports as just being tough, gritty athletes that push through injuries and overwork until they reach mental and physical burnout. This new wave of athletes is understanding that the combination of being in prime physical shape and an unbreakable healthy mentality is what takes you to the elite level!

Remember that your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your competition. Train to be the most lethal athlete you can be.

If you are interested in mental training or learning more about what our specific training looks like please email me or sign up for a free mini session!

The Story of Your Season: How to Soak It All In

Championships, season changes, and soaking it all in. It’s that time of year for fall sport athletes. Time for re-dedication and sometimes re-direction to whatever comes next. Before you re-dedicate or re-direct, don’t skip the reflection.

What was the story of your season? Have you taken time to think about it?

Before the season started you probably spent a lot of time dreaming about how it would go. Your hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the season.

When it’s over, we sometimes get in that “okay, next one” mindset and jump to the next season without stopping to take it all in.

Soak It All In

You’ve probably been told by many former athletes to “soak it all in.” “You’ll look back on these days and wish you had really enjoyed it.” You may have dismissed this wise advice and mumbled something about “look who’s trying to re-live their glory days.” Maybe. That might be part of it. But maybe they’re onto something.

As a member of the former athlete club myself, here’s my advice: Before you say “okay next,” it really is a good idea to stop and “soak it all in.”

Now that the former athlete in me has given you sage advice, the sport psychologist in me will explain how to do this. Just like I wouldn’t tell you to FOCUS! without following it up with details, I won’t do that here either.

At Sterling Sport Mindset, we don’t just talk sport lingo, we break it down and make it doable. How does one “soak it all in?” Here you go.

The Story of Your Season

Set a timer for 30-60 minutes.

Find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be interrupted. This can also be done on a solo walk/run if that’s more your thing.

Close your eyes (if you’ve chosen the sitting option) and take yourself back…

The day before practice began:

  • What were your goals, hopes, fears, worries?
  • How was Day 1?
  • What was your mindset as you thought about the season ahead?
  • Where you excited, nervous, ambitious, focused, driven?

Early season:

  • What beginning of season message from your coach stuck with you?
  • What were those early competitions like?

Mid-season:

  • What funny moments did you have with your team?
  • How about the tough times?
  • Which memories will you never forget?
  • How did your goals shift?
  • How did the rivalry go? Was it your year or theirs?

End of season:

  • Did you achieve your goals? Crush them? Fall short?
  • How did that last competition feel? What emotions came up?
  • Think about the final whistle, the last play, the finish line.
  • What hit you in that moment?
  • What will you take away? Build on? Grow from?

Soak it all in.

When the timer goes off, jot down any insight you want to remember.

Take a mental snapshot or a highlight video of the season.

Breathe for a moment.

Then celebrate. Celebrate regardless of how the season turned out. You earned that season and the season deserves to be celebrated.

Tell your story. Soak it all in. Celebrate!

Reward yourself for your effort. Doesn’t have to be big, but it needs to be intentional. Here are a few idea that our clients have done recently.

  • Get your favorite Starbucks drink & savor it. Congratulate yourself with the first sip.
  • Spend an afternoon doing all of your favorite everyday-type things.
  • Buy a small item that represents this season and all of the effort you put in.
  • Print (yes, actually print–or order it online) and frame a photo that captures your fondest season memory.

However you choose to celebrate the story of your season, make sure to soak it all in.