The Confident Athlete by Tami Matheny is a great book for three main reasons:
- It focuses entirely on the topic of confidence, which is very important for athletes.
- It provides great knowledge and tools to help you build and maintain your self-confidence.
- It is very easy to understand and read. Even if you’re a slow reader, you can easily finish this book in less than a week.
If you want to learn how to build and maintain your confidence, then you need to read this book! Here are some of the most important tips and lessons I learned from this practical book:
When it comes to athletic success, one of the most important traits to have is confidence. With great confidence, you can unlock the hidden talent inside of you and reach your full potential. Not only is self-confidence a vital aspect of peak performance, but it’s also critical for sustaining motivation for the long term. Furthermore, self-confidence can help improve your mental health. Considering how important confidence is, you would think athletes and coaches would focus more on cultivating it. However, in my experience, most athletes and coaches don’t put enough emphasis on actively building and maintaining confidence. Instead of learning the art and science of improving confidence, they just leave it to chance. Even worse, some athletes and coaches don’t even believe that confidence can be learned and practiced. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Confidence can indeed be learned, practiced, and mastered. And the first step of mastering self-confidence is letting go of faulty beliefs about confidence. Here are five common confidence myths and mistakes that Matheny writes about in this book:
- Confidence is something you are either born with or without.
- If you are already confident, you don’t need to work at it.
- You don’t need to work on your confidence until you lose it.
- Confidence is mainly controlled by other people, things, and events.
- Confidence is just a temporary emotion.
After defeating these faulty beliefs and developing a growth mindset about confidence, you can then work towards building and maintaining your confidence.
Here are the four main ways to build and maintain confidence, according to Matheny:
1. Hard work and preparation. This is the foundation of self-confidence. It’s almost impossible to be a confident athlete if you don’t put in the time and effort to improve your skills and prepare for games. There are no shortcuts to self-confidence. You must do the work to become a better, more prepared athlete. And if you do this, self-confidence will come as a result. However, to truly build self-confidence, you can’t just work hard. You also have to work smart and prepare your body and mind in every way possible. This means you need to focus on the five components of preparation:
When you fully prepare yourself in all five of these areas, you’ll start to see great improvements in your self-confidence. However, just because hard work and smart preparation are the most important aspects of building confidence doesn’t mean they are the only ways to improve your confidence. If you truly want to maximize and sustain your self-confidence, you need to practice the other three confidence-building methods taught in this book.
2. Positive self-talk. Like I said above, hard work and smart preparation are not enough. Even if you are fully prepared for a game, your negative self-talk can hurt your confidence. This is why you need to train yourself to think more positively. Here are four ways to improve your self-talk:
- Learn to become more aware of your negative thoughts and replace them with more rational and productive thoughts.
- Use positive affirmations on a daily basis.
- Remember your past successes on a regular basis.
- Develop self-compassion and talk to yourself like you’d talk to your best friend.
- Come up with a “cue word” to increase your confidence in games.
3. Positive body language. As an athlete, your confidence isn’t just affected by your self-talk. It’s also affected by your body language. Whether you are aware of it or not, your body language sends messages to your brain. By standing strong and acting confident, you can actually improve your self-confidence. Furthermore, your body language sends a message to others. By projecting self-confidence, people will notice your confidence, which will make them trust you more, which will then further improve your own confidence! Here are four ways to use your body to improve your confidence:
- Improve your posture by sitting or standing straighter.
- Walk faster, straighter, and more confidently.
- Hold yourself in a “power pose” (like Superman with his hands on his hips).
- Use your arms to pound your chest or “pump up the crowd.”
- Control your face by relaxing it or smiling more.
4. Visualization. As an athlete, you can greatly improve your confidence by practicing visualization. As the author says, “seeing is believing!” Visualization is helpful for a variety of reasons. For one, it can send strong, positive messages to your subconscious mind, which helps ingrain confidence at a deeper level. Secondly, it is a way to practice “mental reps,” which can improve your skills. Lastly, it prepares your mind for future challenges. If you visualize yourself overcoming specific challenges in the future, you’ll be more prepared and confident once these challenges arrive. Here are a few tips for practicing visualization:
- Visualize yourself in great detail, incorporating as many senses as you can.
- Visualize yourself in a wide variety of situations, including playing at your best, overcoming adversity, practicing new skills, succeeding in the past, and celebrating future victories.
- Incorporate visualization into your training regimen, pregame routine, and also, if possible, your pre-shot routine (before free throws or serves, for example).
Overall, you need to use all four of these methods to build and maintain your confidence as best as possible. If you do this, you’ll notice that all four of these methods are highly interconnected. For example, by practicing positive self-talk, body language, and visualization, you can give yourself the confidence and motivation to work hard and prepare, which will then make it easier for you to think positive, maintain positive body language, and visualize success. As a result, your confidence will skyrocket!
The key is to practice all four of these methods on a regular basis, whether you are currently feeling confident or not. This is the only way to maximize your self-confidence and sustain it for the long term! This definitely isn’t easy to do, but it’s 100% worth it!
I highly recommend this book to all athletes and coaches!