The difference between mental toughness and weakness is one thing:
Why the ING?
Have you ever felt confident one moment and defeated the next?
Believing (AKA confidence) requires an ongoing renewing on a moment by moment basis because at any moment, someone or something or some situation will try to steal your believing.
If you can be confident for one moment, just one moment, you can be confident every moment. Confidence is a choice. At least for the mature athlete.
Lately with clients, I have been focusing on the concept of RUBBERIZING one’s confidence.
When you think of the properties of rubber, what comes to mind? Bouncy, durable, strong, dampens vibration, tear resistant, water resistant, cold resistant, flexible, expands, retracts.
Yes, rubber does indeed have its own setbacks too, like heat and oil.
But, for the sake of this example, my goal with clients has been to help them rubberize their confidence so that when adversity hits, they can bounce back quickly or let the setback(s) slide right off . . . like water on rubber.
If you were to hold a piece of rubber in one hand and a glass vase in the other and drop them, they would have very different outcomes.
Confidence can be rubber or it can be glass or somewhere in between. It’s up to you how fragile or strong your confidence is going to be.
Here’s an example of my work with a client in our efforts to rubberize her confidence.
First, I asked this athlete what are 3 current confidence killers:
Next, I shared with this athlete that these confidence killers are quite common, to reassure her that she are not alone in allowing her confidence to be hindered by these.
Then, we let the rubberizing begin by peeling back the layers on her confidence killers:
Confidence Killer #1: Tough Competition
I shared a story with this athlete about a time I was speaking to a middle school basketball team minutes before they were to compete verse a team they had lost to the previous week by a large margin.
The team I was speaking to was listening intently until the opposing team walked right behind me entering the gym. Eyeballs that were trained on me were now transfixed on the imposing competition that was clearly taller and stronger and had just ran up the score a week prior.
So, once I got the team’s attention back on me, I shared with them, “Those kids walking into the gym might be tall and might be strong, but, mentally who knows where they’re at. They might be mental ‘midgets’ (yes i know this isn’t PC these days but this was several years ago and at the time it was okay within the context). Anyways, it got the point across and a few laughs (which is a great sign of relaxation which leads to confidence).
Here’s what point I was trying to make:
We give our competition too much credit! THEY ARE HUMAN JUST LIKE US.
In order to rubberize our confidence, we need to understand that the opponent will make mistakes. They will think negative thoughts. They will get tired. They will feel pressure. They will doubt themselves. THEY ARE HUMAN!
Knowing this alone should build confidence. Next, we discussed how boring it would be to play competition way inferior to us. We talked about if we were in a gym and lifting weights that were way too light, it would not help us build muscle. Yet, if we were to challenge our bodies with a heavy weight . . . it would cause our muscles to grow.
Similarly, when we face competition at our ability level or a little better, it causes us to grow. It might be a bit scary, just like lifting heavier weights, but it shows us what the next progression looks like. It causes us to raise our game. So, crave better competition.
If the athlete truly wants to excel in their sport . . . they need to want to face better competition.
Confidence Killer #2: Coaches Opinions
With High School Spring Sports tryouts a month away (2020) I’ve been checking in with several athletes and they are pretty nervous because they don’t know what they’re coaches will think of them.
To that I tell them . . . “Are your coaches opinions in or outside your control? Outside. Are they within your influence? Yes. What would be more beneficial to focus on . . . what your coach thinks of you or how you can best stand out by focusing on your strengths?”
Most coaches aren’t going to openly discuss how they feel or think about a player. So, in order to rubberize your confidence in this area, I challenge you to stop allowing a coach’s opinion (which you truly don’t know anyway) to steal your focus from performing at your best in the moment.
If you want to influence his opinion, play to your strengths. If you are a great communicator, communicate on the field better than anyone. If you have above average speed, excel in those drills. That way, you give yourself the best chance of influencing the coaches opinion in a positive way.
I promise you, if you allow your focus to be stolen by what coach is thinking, you are likely only setting yourself up to fail and give the coach the opportunity to form a poor opinion of you.
Stay in your lane. Control what’s in your control.
Confidence Killer #3: Playing Time
This killer piggybacks on #2. Playing time is always a hot topic and my answer is three-fold
Playing time is within your influence . . . but many factors make it outside your control:
Older more established players in your position (seniority).
You aren’t as good as the athlete playing your position.
Coach doesn’t trust you enough yet (maybe hasn’t seen you play enough).
Politics (sadly, this does exist in some cases).
Your mission as the athlete is to control the things in your control like your attitude (instead of complaining to anyone who will listen), and learning from the athletes ahead of you to speed up your learning curve, and approach the coach regarding how you can earn playing time (you’re already not getting the amount of time you want . . . so what’s the worst that can happen?).
When you are clear on what you need to do to improve, then, attack it like it’s your job. Because it is your job. Then, . . .
Make the coach’s decision as difficult as possible every single day
Make every day a one-day contract where you earn your keep. Leave it all out there each time you step on the field.
Finally, one of my favorite nuggets: YOU ARE ONLY EVER ONE PLAY FROM BEING A STARTER. PREPARE LIKE ONE.
Be patient. Be hungry.
So, there are some ideas on how to flip the script on some confidence killers in order to rubberize your confidence rather than allow it to stay as fragile as glass.
Remember, the difference between the mentally tough and mentally weak is believing. One moment at a time. Anyone can believe in their abilities when things are going well. Can you do it when the rubber meets the road? Lame. I know.
Dedicated to your thought life . . .
Hey wait! Here are a few things to consider:
Click on the button below to check out some of my mental game books to prep for the upcoming season. I especially recommend the 21 Hours to mental power handbook to build awareness on every mental game topic under the sun.
SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, Feb 1st, 4-6PM @ Sequoia Christian Church in Redwood City, Ca.
I will be presenting on the mental game in prep for Spring Sports and Tryouts. Learn confidence building strategies to get the most out of your ability. Presentation will be from 4:30-5:30. Bring a notebook and a pen. I will also make several books available for purchase. Free for everyone.
SPRING SPORT MENTORSHIP PROGRAM! Runs from February through May as a way for athletes to have a mental check-in each week to maintain confidence, trouble-shoot adversity, vent frustrations and share the victories they are experiencing throughout the season. I started this program last year and it was an incredible experience for both myself and the athletes that participated.