Ten easy ways to feel confident on competition day
Walking into the venue on competition day can be intimidating. The hall is big, amazing dancers surround you, and there is a buzz in the air that can instantly zap you of any and all confidence. After months of hard work and preparation, it can all go awry on competition day because you get inside your own head and psyche yourself out. Confidence is the key to a great performance, and having the right tools can make all the difference.
According to Sport Psychologist and Mental Performance Coach Talese Fernbach, “An athlete can’t start to feel confident until they realize what they aren’t feeling confident about.” Fernbach goes on to explain, “Three of the major ‘thoughts’ and/or feelings that steal confidence away from an athlete are: Previous poor performances, feelings of inadequacy, and fear of embarrassment. An athlete needs to identify why they’re not feeling confident and address and counter attack the thoughts and feelings that are sapping their confidence. An athlete wants to close the door on those thoughts and feelings so they can live in a place of quiet, humble confidence.”
Being able to recognise when your confidence is under fire is the first step to managing it. Fernbach advises, “Once you feel self-doubt start to creep in on competition day, you need to recognize those thoughts and feelings. As an athlete, you have to be prepared for when those moments of self-doubt creep up. You need to have a mental toolbox to replace and shut out those thoughts of self-doubt. This is done by having tools in your arsenal that can be used, under pressure, to combat the self-doubt.”
Fernbach has ten things you can call upon when those feelings of self-doubt arise.
• Develop a logical conversation with yourself on why you CAN do it! Focus on the CANS of your performance
• Write down three previous performance moments (defining moments) when you felt invincible
• Write down what strengths you bring to your performance
• Make note of why your coach likes coaching you
• Think about what makes you unique as a performer
• List five things/skills that you do or execute well in your performance/sport
• Write down five positive statements, mantras, or quotes to motivate you
• Give yourself five compliments
• Write down why you value yourself as an athlete and have the right to “shine” in your performance
• Develop a breathing exercise of 5 breathes in through the nose and slow release out through the mouth
Fernbach points out “Any of the above suggestions, which should be reviewed prior to your performance, will leave you focused on the positive. They will keep your head filled with thoughts of the ‘possible’, so the self-doubt has no room to invade your head. They will help you feel capable and release your ability to believe in yourself.”
Whether you attempt one or all of the above in an effort to keep your confidence boosted, Fernbach has this advice, “Build on your little successes to foster an exceptional and mentally confident mind. If you focus on the work, dedication, and enjoyment of the sport, you will usually get your desired outcome. As an athlete, you can always find something positive from which to build that valuable commodity of confidence in yourself. See the progress and improvement. The learning, growing, and confidence building is found in the details of the practice and competition, not the outcome of the score.” Indeed. Your number one competitor should always be yourself.
Does your confidence get shaken on feis day? Do you have any routines or rituals to help you stay focused? Share them in the comments below, or join the conversation on our Facebook page.