In the dictionary, the best definition for the word Confidence in the context of sports performance is:
A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
Notice that the definition of Confidence has everything to do with you, and nothing to do with what other people think about your abilities.
You don’t have to be an athlete to experience loss of confidence because someone told you, “You will never get this right,” or ”when so and so was your age, they were doing all their triples.”
When you know you are in control of how confident you feel, you can take steps to maintain your confidence at a high level.
Here are some important steps you can take to prepare for competition.
- Have a training plan.
- Follow your training plan.
- Go into the competition with the intention of learning from the experience.
When you approach competition this way, you will learn what worked for you and what you need to tweak before the next competition. In other words, you create opportunities for you to grow and improve with each competition.
When speaking of confidence, the following are two of the most common challenges skaters share with me:
“I know what confidence is, I know I am in charge, but I am not sure how I can be confident.”
“I can be confident for a while, then something happens to throw me off (bad skate, injury, illness, change in routine) and I am back to square one, what is wrong with me?”
If you are nodding your head to this, it is important to realize that you are not the only one who struggles with building an maintaining confidence.
Next, understand that being confident is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. You start at one end and paint your way to the other end. By the time you get to the end, it’s time to start at the beginning again.
In other words, maintaining your confidence is a never ending task that needs constant attention and action.
Confidence is a mindset, and like anything to do with mindset, there are many things that contribute to your ability to build and maintain a high confidence level. At times it can be overwhelming with no clear starting point.
When anything is overwhelming, the first thing to do is to break it down into manageable pieces. You need to start somewhere.
Take care of one thing at a time, and before you know it, you will have a solid foundation on which to build your own confidence.
If you have no idea where to begin, I suggest you start with the list I created below. This is a list of a few very important things that can contribute to how firmly YOU believe in YOUR ability to execute a physical skill or perform a task such as an element or a program in competition.
You can create your own list. Go through the items in the lists below and take the ones that apply to you. Add things that you do that are not on the list.
Preparing in advance will help minimize the chance of surprise distractions and allow you to focus your energy on skating your program. Being prepared is a key ingredient in feeling confident.
- Fitness level
- Mastery of on ice skills
- Mental Game Training
- Preparation (other than on the ice)
- Past experiences
Equipment: Includes skates, costume and any props
- Good shape (not broken down)
- New laces
- Duct tape (if you need it)
- Skate guards
Test your costume, hair and makeup before you get on the ice at competition.
- Make sure the costume fits, is fastened properly, and will stay on
Wear your costume for a trial run program on ice with enough time for alterations.
Make sure that costume will stay fresh as long as you need it including warm up if you get dressed early.
- Adding last minute crystals (stones) can add a ton of weight to your costume. Make sure you get used to the extra weight before you have to jump and skate your program in competition.
- Hair-make sure it will stay where it needs to when you spin and whip your head around.
Hairpins are secure.
Make-up-you know what to do, and how long it will take to get everything on.
Your Fitness Level
How prepared are you physically to do your program:
- Injury free
- Restrictions on movement
- Muscle strength
- Altitude ready? (if applicable)
- Sports diet and nutrition
- Hydration (have you drunk enough water?)
- Preventative body maintenance-massage, stretching, cryo, etc.
This includes training details directly related to your on ice performance.
- Coaching-if you have confidence in your coaching team, that it is the best quality coaching for you
- Facility-enough ice time for your needs, environment for growth
- Your practice habits-practicing with purpose and maximizing your time on the ice
- Program choreography-the best choreography for your level, practicing and improving what your coaches bring to your attention
Do you have these in place, and are you working diligently on improving your physical fitness?
- Dryland – skating specific conditioning
- Strength and endurance conditioning
- Dance or other supporting classes
Mastery over skills on the ice
In order to feel confident, you must be able to execute your elements.
Here’s an extreme example: If you have never landed the jump in practice, then how can you be confident you will land it when you are in competition? You can’t.
Executing a skill around 85% is usually considered mastery, and most coaches will put the element in at this point. Anything below this we will consider a skill still in the developmental stage.
So what can you do to remain confident if you are less than 85% on a skill in your program?
Adjust your goals so that you can go into the competition with confidence
Be realistic. Often you will have elements that are less than 85% in your program. That shouldn’t stop you from doing your best to execute them.
Make sure you have goals for these elements that reflect the stage you are in.
For example: “Rotate triple flip.” Commit to doing my 3A.”
Mental Game Training
Having these things in place can help increase your confidence level:
- Warm up routine
- Pre-competition routine
- Learning and growth mindset
- Process goals
- Plan for practice
- Your plan for the competition
- Strategies for maintaining focus, dealing with self doubts, dealing with mistakes
- Practiced under pressure
Preparation-(other than on the ice)
Things like schedules, time needed for commute to and from the rink, extra practice ice, spare competition clothing, emergency kit for competition.
Preparation-Pack extra dress, tights, undergarments, etc just in case.
Pack Have all the things
you need for skating and competing: Hairpins, bunga pads, tape, bandaids.
Extra music: newly burned CD with no scratches in the correct format, tested in the rink if possible.
- All of your past experience in competition
- Your years of skating and improving
- Adversity you have had to overcome
- Handling a variety of events, venues situations
If you have struggled with maintaining a high confidence level in the past, getting these things (above) in order will help you lay a strong foundation towards feeling confident in yourself.
Once you lay the foundation, you can spend more time on execution of your elements in your program, and building the necessary confidence through your practice plan.
Like learning a 3 Lutz, confidence will become more automatic the more you cultivate it. It is something that you need to practice until it becomes a natural part of the way you think .
Have someone point out when you start to veer down the path of self-doubt. This can help immensely. It can be a coach, parent, trusted friend, or an expert who specializes in mental game.
If you get stuck, instead of beating yourself up about your low confidence, consider turning to an expert for quick identification of your challenges and custom solutions.
Now that you have laid the foundation, it’s time to take your confidence to the next level.
Download the Bust Confidence Myths eBook, complements of ICE Mental Game, to continue your journey to bulletproof confidence.
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